From exercise classes set to live music to digital health services, hybrid workouts and more, here’s what’s set to be huge

Wellness can mean different things to different people. After all, at its essence, it’s someone's roadmap for feeling their best from the inside out - and it can’t get more personal than that.

It’s layered and multifaceted and has taken on increasing significance in a COVID-19 world, with many of us seeking out new ways to maintain our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing in the midst of extremely trying times.

In 2022, health looks likely to continue to be a priority for many people, especially when it comes to fitness. “We’ve had a year of being away from friends and family, and for those who like to exercise, no gyms or classes,” comments personal trainer and founder of TwentyTwo Training, Dalton Wong. He’s started to see a shift in mindset in those he trains. “They have a more dedicated focus on their goals - whether it’s getting back to pre-pandemic fitness levels or aiming to improve their stress management, clients are seeking to maximise their time spent on health.”

Rather wonderfully, fun and flexibility seem to be major influences on all things wellness this year. What are the trends to have on your radar? Here’s what 2022 has in store.

Fun fitness

When we read that ‘enjoyment everywhere’ was a central trend highlighted in Mintel’s 2022 Global Consumer Trends Report, we couldn’t help but smile. Much-needed after the events of 2020 and 2021, analysts have noted that consumers are eager to break out of their confines and explore, play and embrace novel experiences, both virtually and in the ‘real’, physical world. This approach looks primed to influence the way that we workout too, evident from the timetables of some of our favourite fitness studios.

Take for example Gymbox, which has just introduced a Watch My Wheels class into its Farringdon club, a studio-based beginner’s roller-skating eight-week crash course to help you to break a sweat while also learning a new hobby. Each class features specific exercises to build confidence, strength and balance (as well as teaching you how to fall safely!). Set to a playlist of 70s classics to hip hop and house, the music is certain to act as a motivator too.

On the subject of which, music, specifically live music, is set to be a big point of focus for one our favourite studios, Psycle, to help members reach their fitness goals. Think Yoga classes to the soundtrack of a cellist, Barre classes with a live DJ set and Ride classes in total darkness, except for drums which light up to match the rhythm that’s being played. Gemma Soul, who’s Head of Yoga at Psycle has witnessed that, “Sometimes during a class, the connection to the music, along with increased blood flow around the body can help you to let go of any held emotions and provide a release of endorphins, which can act as a massive stress reliever!” We can’t wait to book in.

Workouts that work for you

Following in the footsteps of hybrid working, hybrid working out will continue to be big this year with IRL and virtual options providing people with greater flexibility when it comes to their exercise routine.

“COVID-19 forced so many people to workout online when they had never considered it before,” notes Sian Marshall, founder and owner of U-Pilates. “This enabled many fitness instructors to teach people all over the world for the first time and many, such as myself, launched new workout apps to help achieve this. Now that people have found access to training remotely, I think many will continue working out with their favourite teachers online as location is no longer a barrier to train.”

That said, people are likely to embrace the camaraderie that comes with working out with others. “As a Pilates studio owner, I know that a lot of people are more appreciative than ever of being able to attend live classes,” says Sian. “The classes in my own studio have never been busier or buzzier.”

The increased choice also helps take some of the pressure off if you’re starting something new. If you’re comfortable working out at home and you’re looking to get into yoga come January, you’ll be glad to hear that Movement for Modern Life launched a brand new ‘Yoga for Beginners’ course on 3 January designed to encourage their community to create a bespoke practice and explore how to personalise a yoga practice through listening to what your body needs most.

At-home workouts from the likes of Peloton, The Body Coach, Les Mills and more are certain to continue to be popular though with searches for at-home fitness equipment likely to follow suit. Looking for inspo? Check out Davina McCall’s new fitness range that’s just launched at Boots. From skipping ropes to dumbbells, ankle weights and weighted gloves, it has something for every fitness level and exercise preference. Looking to create an at-home gym to rival the real thing? Primal Strength Equipment is launching into 45 Boots shops in retail park locations across the country.

Wearable tech 2.0

Around one in five of us now counts our steps using an app or a device, according to Mintel statistics. And the demand shows no signs of slowing down as we look for more ways to measure our daily health metrics for a more personalised experience.

One such example is the rise of the Fitbit. The brand’s extensive range of fitness trackers and smartwatches do more than just provide a dose of fitness motivation (although, that’s very much welcome in the dark days of winter). Take the Fitbit Charge 5 (£169.99) for example, that’s just launched into Boots which includes a built-in GPS feature to track your runs, an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor and heart health notifications. Another new addition is the Fitbit Luxe (£129.99) with its sleek platinum stainless steel case and wrist bands offering up both style and substance as well as a wealth of fitness stats at your fingertips.

The same goes for sleep. According to global management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, people will look beyond traditional sleep aids and reach for app-enabled sleep trackers instead. Many Fitbits come with free access to Fitbit Premium for a certain period, providing information on everything from analysis of your sleep duration, sleeping heart rate and restlessness to snore and noise detection. If you’re looking for a new year’s tech upgrade, check out our guide to finding which fitness tracker is right for you here

Sleep tech isn’t restricted to our wrists either with weighted blankets  making the leap from niche to mainstream to help the anxious sleeper. In fact, Naeo has just launched its 5.5kg weighted blanket (£35) into Boots, a soft and comfortable duvet upgrade that reduces restlessness and helps you to have a better night’s slumber.

Rituals over routines

Our beauty regimes are becoming increasingly holistic according to data from L’Oreal’s Life After Lockdown - 2021 Skincare Trend Report. In fact, for many of those surveyed, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water and relaxation were considered to be more important factors in caring for their appearance than using skincare products. Stress management has become the latest addition to our routines in the midst of navigating life through a pandemic.

That’s not to say that skincare itself hasn’t become a much-needed form of self-care. When it comes to the products we use, moments of mindfulness have permeated our routines to provide a pocket of escapism. The report found that online conversations around self-care and healthy skin had risen by sixty percent since pre-lockdown, while mentions of skin rollers and stones have seen an uptick too.

Through winter, and as we try and navigate the ‘new normal,’ we imagine that this will only continue with rituals such as facial massage and products with multi-sensory appeal (soft textures and calming scents) helping turn our bathrooms into much-needed sanctuaries to soothe both skin and stress levels. With Mintel highlighting that consumers are likely to crave a sense of control over their lives as we go into this year, it’s no surprise that many may seek out comfort and routine to provide some calm amidst the chaos.

Digital healthcare

A personalised approach when it comes to wellness seems to be a driving force behind many of 2022’s trends. Healthcare is no exception, with people looking for more choice and accessibility, particularly when they aren’t able to make a face-to-face appointment.

With the limitations of the last year, a range of digital services have sprung up to help provide greater flexibility. Take for example, Boots’ Health Hub, a handy database that allows you to search for health services in your area. Then there’s also Boots’ recently launched Online Doctor service, a new private health service that’s all about giving you convenient and confidential access to professional advice from the comfort of your own home.

From women’s health to sexual health, testing services, acne and skin services, contraceptive advice and more, it helps address a range of health needs. First, you’ll be asked to fill in a quick online consultation which will be assessed by a clinician. You’ll then receive advice on appropriate treatments within two to 24 hours. Where needed, the clinician can also prescribe medication for you to collect from your local Boots pharmacy or have delivered straight to your door. While charges apply for any treatments and test kits provided, rest assured that there’s no charge if no medication or products are provided.

Embracing simplicity

Even before COVID-19, burnout was a growing concern and it feels like the heightened level of stress that many of us experienced over the last couple of years has added further fuel to the fire. Analytics company GlobalData found that 81 percent of global consumers consider living a less complicated lifestyle important in creating a feeling of wellbeing and so it comes as no surprise that many of us may be looking for increased simplicity in these uncertain times.

A re-appreciation of balance may factor here, whether it’s surrounding our tech use or our fitness regime. “People went to either end of the extremes during COVID-19; quitting working out completely because they couldn’t get to their local gym, or spending more time than ever on getting fit as they had so much free time,” says Sian Marshall. “Neither option is sustainable or healthy now that life has gone back to a more normal balance.”

A ‘less is more’ approach and working out ‘smarter not harder’ are mantras she thinks people will gravitate more towards. “Shorter, less frequent and lower stress workouts are much easier to stick to than aiming to work out hard for long periods every day,” she says. “The benefits of working out regularly and consistently far out-way an extreme exercise programme that’s impossible to maintain.”

Go plant-based (on a budget)

According to the Vegan Society, one in five Brits reduced their meat consumption during the pandemic due to health, environmental or ethical concerns. And the plant-based boom is set to continue in 2022 on the heels of a range of vegan cookbooks hitting our shelves at the end of 2021 and in the new year.

One that’s caught our eye? BOSH! On a Budget by number one Sunday Times bestselling authors Henry Firth and Ian Theasby. Veganism often operates on the (unfair) pre-perception that it’s harsher on the bank balance, however, this guide helps to dispel that myth thanks to over 100 delicious recipes covering comfort food feasts to delicious brunches and tasty treats. It’s also packed with money-saving hacks and batch-cooking tips and tricks to help provide some valuable plant-based inspiration to take you from Veganuary to beyond.

Interested in cutting back on meat but don’t know where to start? Check out our beginner’s guide to going vegan.

All prices correct at time of publication