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With each new year, industries shift, fads come and go, technology advances, and new science and findings result in change. To stay on the forefront, we asked some of our Life Time experts to offer their predictions around what they think will command the health and wellness industry in 2022. Here’s what they see coming in six key categories: health and wellness, fitness, nutrition, beauty, decorating and home design, and mental wellness.

1. Health and Wellness

LT Expert: Courtney Helgoe, features editor at Experience Life magazine

Trend: Sober curiosity

“We wrote a piece in January 2021 on the sober curiosity movement, and not long after, I saw that a character on Issa Rae’s series, Insecure, had come back ‘Cali-sober’ for the fifth season — it was obvious that this trend was taking off,” says Helgoe. “This is such great news for our collective health, physically and mentally!

“We also featured non-alcoholic spirits in our Worthy Goods product page recently, and there’s huge creativity in this arena — why drink club soda when you can have, say, a dry non-alcoholic spirit infused with cardamom and allspice? It’s great to see more people exploring the pleasure of a wind-down drink without the buzz.”

Trend: The importance of social connections for health

“Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was already concerned about social isolation during his tenure in the Obama administration, such that he identified loneliness as a public-health crisis and wrote a book about it,” says Helgoe. “COVID-19 has only emphasized and broadened the truth of his finding — that chronic loneliness is as detrimental to our overall health as smoking. We cannot create thriving health alone. We need a community, even a small one, to be our most resilient selves.”

Trend: Kindness

“This may seem like less of a health trend than a pipe dream, but as we witness what feels like a crisis of bad behavior — in restaurants, on airplanes, on the freeways — we see how much unkindness literally harms our health,” says Helgoe. “It creates undue stress for service workers and can lead to actual physical injuries. The silver lining — if you can call it that — is that the necessity of empathy and mutual respect for our physical health has never been clearer. Without mutual kindness, we can’t thrive, and we’re all acutely aware of that now.”

2. Fitness

LT Expert: David Freeman, CPT, CCP, PES, national digital performer brand leader at Life Time, and co-host of the Life Time Talks podcast

Trend: Digital fitness growth

“Digital fitness will continue to have a strong presence and more gamification will come about in 2022,” says Freeman. “It will yield more connections across the world and get more people moving and being intentional about their health and fitness. I’m excited about this because the health and fitness industry is always evolving in ways that allow us to become more health conscious. And, the more people owning their own healthy way of life, the better.”

Trend: In-person training

“In conjunction with the presence of digital fitness, in-person training will come back to life in 2022,” Freeman predicts. “With restrictions being lifted around the world, people are craving getting back to in-person connections. Being involved with a community allows us to grow and evolve daily by being part of something bigger than ourselves. This excites me because I look forward to connecting with so many new faces, as well as maintaining the relationships I have accumulated over the years. I know this will present a nostalgic vibe and bring about happiness, which in return, yields positive mental gains.”

3. Nutrition

LT Expert: Paul Kriegler, RD, LD, CPT, director of nutritional product development at Life Time

Trend: More mainstream chatter about animal-based eating styles and regenerative agriculture

“Plant-based eating has had the spotlight in recent years for its health and environmental ‘benefits,’ but more people are realizing that eating nothing but plants — with more of those food options being highly processed, fake versions of animal proteins such as veggie burgers, plant-based sausages, and egg-free ‘eggs’ — is not that easy,” Kriegler says. “And those foods might not even be good for the environment after all.”

“On the other hand, regeneratively raised, animal-based food — and the systems that produce them, when done properly — are incredibly nutrient-dense and can create environmental benefits that haven’t been replicated by modern agriculture,” says Kriegler. “Properly managed regenerative livestock agriculture is one of the best ways to regenerate the health and nutrient density of topsoil and can help sequester huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. This in turn can help regenerate grasslands where other crops can’t be grown.”

Kriegler continues, “As a species, we’re at a crossroads where we need radical improvements in our health, and we need to achieve that while restoring the health of our ecosystems. If we switch over entirely to plant-based nutrition, we won’t do either and will likely end up in a worse position than if we changed nothing. Of course, we can’t really afford to let our health or environment decline much further, so there needs to be some big changes with how we eat and how we raise our food.”

“There are some loud messages coming out of either extreme — carnivores or vegans — thinking their ‘way’ is the ‘right way,’ and I think 2022 will be a year where the middle ground between the two can be discussed more openly. The solution isn’t clear, but the most helpful system is probably somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. We all need to shift to higher-quality, in-season foods of all types from sources produced closer to where we live.”

4. Beauty

LT Experts: Erin Hickey, licensed cosmetologist and LifeSpa category manager; Nikki Gnatzig, LifeSpa artist at Life Time in Brookfield, Wis.; Tarra Kruper, master color and educator for Wella Professional, who provides education to LifeSpa artists

Trend: Natural hair — accentuated

“People are really embracing their natural texture and enhancing it instead of changing it.” says Kruper. “Healthy hair is a big focus. People are seeking smooth, touchable, polished looks with tons of shine, and styles with body and fullness.

Hickey agrees: “Super shiny and healthy hair will be at the forefront for hair trends in 2022. After a few years of the pandemic, and many people embracing some of their natural hair color, one thing that has remained is a love for hair that has a healthy shine. Glossing services take hair color to a whole other level with a gorgeous vibrance that showcases your hair’s health.”

Trend: Softer hair color

“Dimensional color and balayage that comes off as low maintenance will continue to be trending in 2022,” says Gnatzig, “Think of dimension in terms of a soft, seamless balayage, but also having those key placements for pops of contrast, especially around the face. These highlights allow for a glow and brightness around the face to accentuate your facial features. A dimensional balayage is very effortless, but still grabs your eye because it adds movement to the hair. Plus, it’s so versatile and is suited for anyone because it’s so customizable!”

Trend: Curtain bangs and layered cuts

“Next year, I’m predicting we’ll continue to see even more of what our LifeSpa artists have been recently providing to clients: long layers, modern shags, and what I think will really have their moment in 2022: side-sweeping curtain bangs,” says Hickey. “These are not the bangs of anyone’s childhood! These are full, sexy, and reminiscent of the 1970’s, but modernized. Our LifeSpa artists love curtain bangs because they can offer a modern cut that isn’t as intimidating as straight, short bangs.”

Trend: CBD services

“Once considered a trendy buzzword in the ingredients space, CBD is here to stay and will be even bigger in 2022,” says Hickey. “While the ingredient first received attention because of its derivation from the cannabis plant, it became clear that this non-psychoactive compound has its own rich properties for restoring and healing tired muscles and a busy mind.”

Hickey continues, “At LifeSpa, we are so excited to be starting off 2022 with our new services that combine beauty and wellness featuring this must-experience ingredient: the CBD pedicure and CBD manicure, which join the larger LifeSpa body massage CBD service menu.”

5. Decorating and Home Design

LT Expert: Elaine Van Someren, senior interior designer at Life Time.

Trend: Minimalism

“Humanity is becoming more earth conscious,” says Van Someren. “I believe reusing, recycling, thrifting, and upcycling will be big trends in our home décor in 2022.”

Trend: Deliberate home-office design

“Making a few intentional decisions when setting up your home office may increase your productivity throughout the day,” said Van Someren. “I suggest choosing a space with a lot of natural night, purchasing a supportive, adjustable desk chair, and investing in an adjustable height desk. Understanding ergonomics is so important for our health.”

Trend: Pet homes 

“Our faithful friends deserve the best. Creating a doghouse or pet house that compliments the aesthetic of your home or apartment is such a cute and fun conversation piece,” says Van Someran. “There are tons of great ideas online.”

Trend: Botanical design

“Plants purify our air and add pops of color to our spaces,” says Van Someren. “If you are tight on space, a wall mounted planter looks great. Mosses and succulents remain popular and low maintenance.”

6. Mental Wellness

LT Expert: Brie Vortherms, MA, LMFT, Mind Coach and director of Life Time Mind

Trend: Continued destigmatization around seeking support

“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen more people reach out for services both after realizing they are in need or as a preventative measure,” says Vortherms. “Further normalizing mental wellness is extremely important, and I am thrilled that more people are using services to increase their overall wellness.”

Vortherm adds, “I can also see, when referring to self-care, people expanding their view of what they might think it is to include more efforts to support their mental health, such as prioritizing mental fitness and mental workouts as part of their health and wellness routine.”

Trend: Technology-based wellness tools

“Technology has opened new doors for helping people gather data and increase their understanding of their own well-being,” says Vortherms. “Data is empowering and can take the guesswork out of how to support yourself. For example, using the MUSE meditation headband lets you know when your mind is active versus when it has entered into a calm, meditative state. That way, someone doesn’t have to guess whether they are ‘doing it right’ when trying to relax.”

Vortherms continues: “I predict the technology and data collection will appeal to a wider audience than just people seeking mental support, which is fantastic! More people are on their way to regulation and a sense of safety and well-being. These devices are typically very well-researched with a lot of scientific evidence supporting their efficacy. Another one I like is Apollo Neuro, a technology that uses low-frequency vibration (worn around the wrist) to increase the nervous system’s ability to respond to stress effectively. I predict we will see more wellness devices pop up as we turn a greater interest toward mental well-being.”

Trend: Sound healing

“While research is still out on if binaural beats are actually effective at a brain-based level, hypnosis has multiple studies showing that it changes the way the brain processes information,” says Vortherms. “I personally think it’s an underutilized resource and can be helpful with a range of concerns, including reducing anxiety, smoking cessation, and chronic-pain management. As more studies come out, I predict there will be an increased interest. There are great apps like Reveri and Harmony Hypnosis that have excellent content to explore. As for binaural beats, research proven or just a placebo, I personally have found a lot of relief using them, as have many of my clients.”

Trend: A more trauma-informed world

“After the murder of George Floyd, we saw at least some increase in the awareness of how relationally traumatic our culture and society can be,” says Vortherms. “We have a long way to go in terms of true systemic change, but resources such as Resmaa Menaken’s books and courses are a great place to start. My hope is that this isn’t just a trend, but a long-term committed effort.”

Callie Chase
Callie Fredrickson

Callie Fredrickson is a content editor at Life Time.

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