7 of the biggest fitness and wellness trends for 2021

Rosie Fitzmaurice
·9-min read
 (Unsplash)
(Unsplash)

Each year we predict the biggest health, fitness and wellness trends for the year ahead - and as we’re still dealing with the ricocheting effect of 2020, we’re all in need of a good dose of self-care right now.

From the new gut health buzzword to cycle syncing your fitness and skincare for your scalp, here are the wellness trends to have on your radar in 2021.

‘Rewild’ your workout

The fitness world is finally moving away from emphases on calorie burn and weight loss and a new wave of trainers are offering a refreshing take on movement which instead focuses on things like mobility and mental health. One such is Animal Flow, a ground-based, bodyweight workout that’s popular in the States and combines primal animal movements like the “ape”, “beast” and “crab” (which in practice, look a bit like a cross between yoga, Brazilian capoeira and breakdancing) to improve mobility and strength, make you feel more grounded and less stressed. Sound good?

This side of the pond, Miranda (MK) Fox (@thebodyweightbitch), a primal movement and bodyweight coach, teaches primal flows via her female-only fitness community, The Bitch Clinic, and her online classes are a steal starting from just £1. It’s a back to basics approach, says MK: "Primal movement gets your mind and body connecting in a really intense way - it's a powerful form of expression and a way of tuning into your inner self, whilst also getting your body feeling incredibly strong."

The ‘mindful’ drinks trolley

Caleño’s Medellin mule mocktail Caleño
Caleño’s Medellin mule mocktail Caleño

The 5pm "quarantini" was no doubt one of the defining rituals of 2020, but many of us are increasingly making more conscious choices when it comes to a clocking off tipple, according to Alcohol Change UK this year an estimated 6.5 million Brits are expected to commit to Dry January – up from an estimated 3.9 million last year.

Whether you’re cutting back or abstaining completely, Ellie Webb, founder of no-alcohol spirit brand Caleño argues it doesn’t mean you should deny yourself enjoying the occasion of a nice drink at the end of a long old day WFH, and livening up the drinks trolley with some low or no alternatives is a good place to start. Caleño’s Dark & Spicy spirit (£18), is a tropical blend of pineapple, coconut, ginger and kola nut that’s perfect for rum lovers, or try Maria & Craig’s distilled CBD botanical spirit, for a booze free take on a G&T, with not-too-sweet earthy flavours of fresh sage and juniper and an added dose of zen (£22.99). Just want some balance with your booze? Dalston’s canned 4% ABV Hard Seltzers , blended with rhubarb or grapefruit-flavoured sparkling water, offer a low calorie sensible swap to your usual glass of wine or beer. For more mindful drinking motivation snap up The Sober Curious Reset (£11.99), the latest title from Ruby Warrington, who coined the term “Sober Curious” in her bestseller of the same name.

Soil health and regenerative eating

What’s it all about? Abby Rose, farmer and co-founder of Farmerama Radio, a podcast that’s dedicated to the voices of the UK’s regenerative agriculture movement says: “The day-to-day decisions that farmers make affect us all, the way a farmer grazes their animals affects everything from how much carbon is sequestered (absorbed) on a farm to how nutrient-dense the food is.”

In practice, regenerative eating is about being more conscious about where your food comes from. “It’s buying meat that’s 100 per cent grass-fed from producers, like Pipers Farm , and buying local produce which has been harvested in a way that promotes soil health and feeds biodiversity, resulting in more nutrient-rich food, thriving communities, cleaner water, cleaner air, and more carbon captured from the atmosphere," Rose says. Why should we care about the health of our soil? “We are becoming more and more aware of the microbiome in our gut, but what we’re talking about is the microbiome of the earth, and many people are investigating the relationship between the earth biome and our gut biome, it’s an exciting area of research.” Keen to learn more? Plug into Farmerama’s latest series Who Feeds Us?

Cycle-syncing your self-care

Unsplash
Unsplash

You may have already heard of the term “cycle syncing” thanks to Alisa Vitti, author of In the Flow, who coined and trademarked the term. Vitti, along with authors like Maisie Hill, who wrote the bestseller Period Power (look out for her new title Perimenopause Power in the new year) believe in tailoring your daily life, including everything from diet to activity, to be more in line with the fluctuations in hormone and energy levels that happen over the course of your menstrual cycle - and it’s gaining particular traction in the context of fitness. Research into the area is still limited, but Vitti, who also runs the floliving.com blog and My Flo app, argues that each of the four stages of your cycle is better suited to certain forms of exercise and exertion. The benefits of being in sync? You’ll avoid exercise-induced burnout, help to prevent injury and see the results you’re after faster, she says.

Want to give it a go? Evgenia Koroleva, founder of ONE LDN has just launched, The Curve, an eight-week strength and cardio fitness programme for women that’s entirely based on training around the monthly cycle, she argues that female athletes use knowledge about their cycles to enhance performance and recovery, so why shouldn’t you? "The hormone fluctuations have powerful effects on female bodies throughout the menstrual cycle which directly affects energy levels, muscle and joint function, metabolism, vulnerability to injuries, appetite, sleep quality, and even skin health. However, hardly any women look at it this as part of their regular exercise programming,” she says. "Our bodies are smart so living in tune with them is a kinder and a more enjoyable way to live."

Postbiotics for gut health

By now you know all about probiotics, live cultures or “good bacteria” found in fermented foods like “live” natural yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and some supplements, and prebiotics, the food for probiotics - with potent amounts found in foods like garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus and chicory - both support a healthy gut microbiome. Now, everyone’s talking about postbiotics - keep up, guys - which are “waste or byproducts of beneficial gut microbes produced after the process of fermentation that are also present in some fermented foods,” explains nutritionist Eve Kalinik, author of Happy Gut, Happy Mind. "These substances are important for our health and wellbeing including managing inflammation and supporting the immune system".

Because postbiotics are not “alive”, it may be easier to incorporate them into more products and supplements. Research, however, is still preliminary, Kalinik warns, adding that rather than popping pills, the best and simplest way to look after your gut is by "giving your gut microbes the necessary fuel to do the job," i.e. by ensuring your diet is varied and full of diverse dietary fibre sources and eating plenty of colourful plates of food.

Given the skincare industry has already latched onto the powers of pre and probiotics to support the skin’s microbiome, some beauty brands have already begun experimenting with postbiotics. Gallinée has launched Skin & Microbiome Supplements (£30), which blends pre, pro and postbiotics designed to soothe sensitive skin from within. Watch this space.

Skincare for your scalp

Didn't know you needed hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and retinol in your haircare armoury? You do now. Last summer, British brand The Inkey List, known for its no-frills single-ingredient formulations, launched an entire range of skingredients for your hair and scalp and we’re going to be seeing plenty more of this come 2021.

It’s all about getting to the root of the problem when it comes to lacklustre locks. On the luxury side of things, Monpure has launched a Follicle Boost Hair Density Serum (£72), which is basically a gentle retinol for your scalp that’s designed to supercharge cell renewal by spurring on the exfoliation process, increasing blood flow and decongesting hair follicles, thus promoting stronger tresses. Ever noticed that a shampoo delivers amazing results in the first few washes, but then the effects seem to wane? London hairdresser Larry King says you need three different shampoos to support the needs of your ends, so he has launched The Wash Cycle, a trio of products to swap between requirements, be it replenishment, detoxing or va va voom. Scalp need a total overhaul? Hydrafacial’s Keravive treatment, which is designed to deeply cleanse, stimulate and hydrate the scalp by infusing follicles with skin proteins, should be on your wishlist once we’re allowed to pamper ourselves in-salon, though it’ll come at a cost (around £450).

Unplugged, slow travel

Wild swimming retreat in CornwallSt Michael’s Resort
Wild swimming retreat in CornwallSt Michael’s Resort

Finally, we leave you with some wanderlust. We all know that one of the positives to come out of the pandemic is our renewed appreciation of the great outdoors and this is set to influence how we travel this year, with wild swimming retreats, self-guided cycling holidays and digital detox retreats all on the rise.

There’s been a boom in wild swimming - and for good reason, a recent study found icy dips may help to stave off dementia, while others suggest cold water therapy may help to improve your response to stress - but experts will tell you there’s a lot to learn about doing it safely on your own. St Michaels Resort in Falmouth is gearing up to host a series of wild swimming retreats for groups of up to 10 who will enjoy guided swims and lessons on technique in the stunning Cornish waters come the spring. Meanwhile, if you were one of the thousands to get into cycling during the pandemic, head to the Highlands where Wilderness Scotland is offering six-day self-guided cycling tours of the Cairngorms National Park for groups of up to four. Excess screen time driving you loopy? Book in for a digital detox at Unplugged, a three-day private retreat an hour’s drive from London. You’ll stay in a two-person off-grid cabin, where your phone will be locked safely away, and you’ll be given a map for exploring the surrounding picturesque Essex countryside. Just what the doctor ordered.

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