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Global Wellness Summit 2017 Highlights

The Global Wellness Summit celebrated its 11th summit this year, held at The Breakers, West Palm Beach. This family owned and operated hotel has been wellness-focused for the benefit of its staff and guests for over 12 years. Now, in the 122nd year of business, it is one of the only US family run businesses over 100 years old and still in the hands of its original owners who take great care of their staff, suppliers and guests. This high level of employee engagement has led to employee retention and guest satisfaction, and set the scene perfectly for our fast-paced, high-level, wellness focused conference.

Reach for the stars
Well, the moon at least! The Global Wellness Institute launched a ‘Wellness Moonshot’. The destination: a world free of preventable disease. Susie Ellis stated, “this moonshot will require not one, but many incremental steps forward for humankind.” Ellis was joined by Dr. Richard H. Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States and current Chief of Health Innovation, Canyon Ranch, in announcing the Wellness Moonshot, “The world is increasingly plagued by largely preventable chronic diseases, and the crippling economic burden that comes with them. This call to action is absolutely critical, refocusing on humankind’s most pressing need,” said Dr. Carmona. Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, Professor of Surgery, Columbia University, and host of The Dr. Oz Show, reminded delegates, “We have to be brave enough to take on this moonshot.” Dr. Dean Ornish, Founder and President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, said, “I salute this moonshot and project. It is a much needed, organized way to create transformation…it’s the right idea at the right time.” Dr. Andrew Weil, a key Wellness Moonshot supporter, posed the question: “How can we encourage people to live a more healthy life? Fashion is powerful; if we can recruit celebrities to promote a wellness lifestyle this can encourage positive change.”

Ice & Water
Wim Hof has gained his nickname “The Iceman” due to his accomplishments which include swimming long distances under ice, sustaining 90-minutes up to his neck in iced water, climbing Everest wearing only shorts and running a half marathon barefoot above the Arctic circle. The Wim Hof Method combines cold therapy, breathing and commitment. Cold therapy builds up brown adipose tissue (good fat), reduces inflammation, improves sleep quality and increases production of endorphins. Breathing techniques amplify oxygen levels, increase energy, reduce stress and strengthen the immune system. Commitment, focus and determination allow you to master both body and mind. A “dropout from school” Hof explains that he learned from nature. “The autonomic nervous system is outside of our will.” However through exposure to cold he has repeatedly witnessed the activation of the innate immune system to the level of the autonomic nervous system. Those who took part in the breakout session with Hof learned how tap into this control and hold their breath for two minutes.

Justin Brice Guariglia uses visual art to exhibit causes of planetary concern. “If you want to change the world you have to change the way people see the world.” says Guariglia. The app, After Ice, projects the water level of your location, wherever you are, by the year 2080, bringing information to the public in a very relatable way.

Dr. Marc Cohen, Professor, RMIT University, Australia, shared his expertise on water, wellness and wealth. Water should be everyone’s concern; without water, we all die, all life dies. Water in liquid state is extremely rare in the universe and only exists in certain circumstances. All fresh water on earth is fed by hot springs, which feed phytoplankton creating oxygen and supporting the entire food chain. Bathing in thermal mineral water can be profoundly therapeutic.; people relax and find balance, improving their mental resilience and focus, reducing pain and inflammation. Dr. Cohen also taught us how to do the ‘Cold Shower Hokey Pokey”!

Plant based diets can cure illness
Dr. Dean Ornish presented the transformative power of lifestyle medicine. Lifestyle medicine acts to reverse disease. A plant-based diet low in fats and refined carbohydrates is part of a lifestyle including four elements: eat well, move more, stress less, love more. This can reverse conditions such as heart disease and eliminate the need for medication. The lifestyle encourages the cancer-causing genes to be switched off, and an increase in telomere length, which relates to longevity. The same diet and lifestyle was found to be suitable for all diseases studied. The diet is sustainable because it’s fun and enjoyable, not fear based. Adherence was 85-90por ciento after a year, showing substantial cost savings within the same time period.

This is hugely important for wellness retreats and resorts offering wellness programs. They can rely on robust data and evidence-based studies to show the role of a plant-based diet in disease reversal. This is something parts of the medical community have been reluctant to accept.

Connection is Key
Agapi Stassinopoulos, who was with us at GWS2016 in Mexico City, joins us again delivering a message of fulfillment and leading with the heart. Her keynote:
Living a Well Life Begins & Ends with Your Heart, explains that business may be flourishing but if stress is overtaking life, this cannot be classified as success. Instead of B2B, let’s think of H2H: heart to heart. Connect to your heart and your purpose. Find your calm at the heart of the storm; find your being, in the moment.

Edie Weiner, President & CEO, The Future Hunters examined the crossroads of science and spirituality that we are facing. “We can now do three things: leave this planet, destroy this planet and hack the future” Weiner explained. She posed the question: “Is there life after death?” Around the year 2040, the technology should be available to download everything in our brains and to carry on ‘living’. The human brain is the most powerful electrical conductor in the universe. Time flows backwards and forward according to quantum physics, theoretically allowing for telepathy and clairvoyance between people, and even our former or future selves at different ages. If we live lives beyond our physical bodies, why would this life be so important to us? How important is memory to us in the end? The irony is that the mindfulness movement is here at a time where we are desperate to preserve memories in pictures rather than experiencing it in the moment. Will you experience the sunset or remember it as an image taken through a lens?

Jessica Jesse, CEO & Creative Director of BuDhaGirl, spoke about going ‘beyond the bangles’. The rituals of wellness, being present and using intention in daily ritual are the founding philosophies of BuDhaGirl bangles. Rituals make us who we are; they give us strength and insight and remind us of the impermanence of our situations. The importance of being present and remembering that ‘this too shall pass’ can influence our state of mind. Turn your routines into rituals.

Hooray for Happiness
Solve for Happy – Engineering Happiness: Mohammad (Mo) Gawdat invites us to think of the body and the brain as a machine and to look at ways to keep the system from crashing – much the same way as an engineer might. What makes you happy? Write your happy list so you know what to invite more of into your life! We are guided by our thoughts. Focusing on unhappy thoughts does not change anything in the real world. Happiness is a choice, make it! #OneBillionHappy

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, PhD, spoke about happiness at work. Having a job brings people a point higher on a happiness scale of 1-10. Does happiness affect performance? The relationship works both ways as happiness influences success and success influences happiness. Studies show that raising employee happiness raises productivity by 7 to 12por ciento.

The All Powerful Mind
Alia Crum PhD helped us to understand the positive implications of the placebo effect and how it demonstrates the power of our mind over our body. Placebo medication and even placebo surgeries can have real and measurable benefits. How can we harness these benefits? The effect of the treatment depends on the mindset of the patient or participant. Warmth and competence of the practitioner are also shown to amplify the effect. Knowing this, how can spas tap into this effect? If the expectation of visiting a spa is one of health, wellness and relaxation, the very real and measurable health benefits of spa treatments can be amplified by the placebo effect and the brain’s power over the body.

Jarrod Luca of Florida State University won the student challenge with his EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing device; applicable for sufferers of PTSD and anxiety disorders. Via a headset, users can experience the therapy, which helps to remove the emotional attachment to trauma.

Founders of Well + Good, Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula, showcase wellness and spa experiences via their website. Recently, they launched the ‘Good Travel’ category, their fastest growing content category so far. Wellness and fitness influencers who run retreats and classes are competing for spa dollars. Travel tastes are moving from properties to people. Large sectors of the primary wellness travel market will follow influencers rather than visit a branded or iconic spa. How can spas take advantage of this? Partner with influencers, hold wellness events and stays with visiting hosts that cater to your target market and capitalize on this trend or risk losing out. Tailor the experiences that you offer to your clientele.

Taking personalization even further, 150 delegates of the GWS participated in a DNA-based wellness assessment from Lifenome, along with a 23andme DNA kit. The secret to our predispositions lies in our genes and, while we all agree lifestyle can determine our health, wellness and longevity, knowing our genetic makeup can certainly help us identify patterns, behaviors and outcomes. Working with this knowledge can be key to achieving optimum wellness. This is something health and longevity retreats are already offering but, as technology improves and tests can be completed quicker, the potential is there for resort and day spas to also provide this.

The Global Wellness Summit presented the following awards:

Leader in Innovation: Steve Nygren, Serenbe
Award Sponsor: Sammy Gharieni, CEO & Founder, Gharieni Group, Germany

Leader in Sustainability: Neil Jacobs, Six Senses
Award Sponsor: Alberto Uggetti, Vice President & General Manager, UL Environment, U.S.

Leading Woman in Wellness: Julie Bach, Wellness for Cancer
Award Sponsor: Miriam Senft, President & CEO, Motivity Partnerships, Inc., U.S.

Leader in Workplace Wellness: Renee Moorfield, Wisdom Works
Award Sponsor: Josh McCarter, CEO, Booker Software, U.S.

Debra Simon Award for Leader in Furthering Mental Wellness: Louie Schwartzberg, Moving Art
Award Sponsor: Lauren Wright, President, Debra Simon Family Foundation & Daughter of Debra Simon, U.S.

Global Wellness Summit 2018 is to be held in Italy and sponsored by Technogym



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Sara Jones
Author: Sara Jones