From psychoactive drugs to silent spas: 2018's weirdest wellness trends

From psychoactive drugs to silent spas: 2018's weirdest wellness trends

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Classes streamed into your living room

“Like Netflix, but for spin classes” might seem an obvious pitch, but it’s taken a while for the perfect storm of rapidly improving tech and outrageously priced real-life classes to kick in, making at-home training an increasingly preferable prospect. Why, after all, should you drop a purple note to be yelled at for 45 minutes in a darkened room, when for half that a month you can subscribe to Peloton’s on-demand service and be yelled at 24/7 in the comfort of your living room – and without having to queue for the showers afterwards?

Anna Kaiser



Anna Kaiser.

Other services trade off celebrity appeal – AKT In Motion, for instance, gives you on-demand access to Shakira’s trainer Anna Kaiser – and many offer live streaming or optional accessories, ranging from stretch bands to £1,000 spin bikes. Oh, and in case you’re worried about feedback, some offer the added “bonus” that their trainers can use your webcam to critique your form. Yes, like at the start of 1984.

Silence please: the rise of the off-grid retreat

Those passive-aggressive “Talk to people!” chalkboards in cafes with no free wifi? The thin end of the wedge. Expect social media fatigue to peak over the next 12 months, with more Trump-weary tweeters committing to digital detoxes, and more pubs and cafes actively discouraging mobile phones. If you’re looking to get off the grid more ostentatiously, the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas is the first in the chain to offer a Digital Wellness escape, complete with a silence ceremony at check-in and in-room Himalayan salt lamps “to absorb electromagnetic fields”. Closer to home, digital detox brand Time To Log Off offers a four-day retreat in a wifi-free Somerset cottage based around nature walks, yoga and “creative activities” – none of which, presumably, you’ll be allowed to use as Instagram fodder. Also set to be big: silent spas, where you haven’t even got the friendly badinage of your manicurist to distract you from your lack of reception.

Pop a super-charged vitamin pill

“Smart” drugs have been an established thing with stressed-out concert violinists and medical students for a while, but they’re getting more ambitious and (maybe) less side-effect riddled, with the likes of the US-based HVMN offering blends claiming to “provide immediate clarity, [and] long-term enhancement of brain and body”. Typical ingredients range from omega-3s (though you can get enough from eggs and fish) and vitamin D1 (available in spray form, or via summer sun) to “Ayurvedic herbs” and caffeine. Could you get similar effects from eggs royale and a double espresso? Probably.

Get out of your mind (or into an isolation tank)

With tech billionaires recruiting via Burning Man – Larry Page and Sergey Brin took Eric Schmidt along for the weekend before hiring him as CEO of Google – and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs preaching the virtues of ayahuasca, expect to see self-styled disruptors and digital nomads everywhere toting copies of Alexander Shulgin’s pharmacological recipe book PiHKAL and waxing lyrical about the benefits of taking micro-doses of LSD.

To be fair, there is some interesting research being conducted on the value of psychedelics for creative or therapeutic purposes, but if hiking to a Peruvian sweatlodge – or, indeed, hanging out in the desert with Elon Musk – doesn’t appeal, then brain stimulation, adventure sport and isolation tanks offer more entry-level options. Steven Kotler’s new book Stealing Fire is a good primer on the available options – and pretty open about the risk-reward ratios of everything from psychoactive drugs to extreme skiing.

Forage your own kombucha

Expect this gut-friendly fizzy drink – made from fermented black or green tea – to go fully mainstream this year, with the serious soft-drink players jumping aboard the bandwagon to make up for declining sales of their more sugar-heavy offerings. This, of course, means that serious “buch-bros” will need to establish their credentials by going weird: perhaps by visiting Europe’s first kombucha tap room at JARR in London, or getting on the non-collins (that’s bucha, sugar syrup and melon juice) at the Pig hotel near Bath, or brewing their own out of nettles and dandelions.

Track your own transcendence (or get a robot trainer)

You’re already (probably) tracking steps, stairs climbed and your own sleep patterns, but the next generation of wearables promises to bring metrics to – well, basically everything else. Fitbit and Apple are starting to offer breathing features aimed at helping with stress, while pricier options track heart-rate variability (HRV), a measure of small fluctuations between your heart’s beats that might give an indication of how ready you are to handle tough workouts, unpleasant interactions or other sources of stress. Most out-there of all? EEG tracking, which self-styled bio-hackers hope can cut out all the tedious years of mindful humility Tibetan monks have to go through to master meditative states. By watching your brainwaves on-screen in real time, the theory goes, you can deliberately alter them via guided “neurofeedback” to reach transcendence in record time. Too much? Try a robot personal trainer: the Vi AI trainer will never let you miss a step.

Grab a glass of tiger nut milk

tiger nut milk


Yes, it’s a thing. No, it isn’t made from… you know. Yellow nutsedge – as it’s also known – has been cultivated in Egypt since the time of the pharaohs, and is a solid source of probiotics, potassium and magnesium. Still ordering your turmeric latte with almond milk? Get your head out of 2017.

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