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The Year In Unique—And Downright Kooky—Health And Wellness Trends

From goat yoga and the Ruth Bader Ginsburg workout to penis pills for millennials, we look back at the year that was in health, fitness, and wellness.

The Year In Unique—And Downright Kooky—Health And Wellness Trends
[Photos: Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States”/Wikimedia Commons; JJ Harrison/Wikimedia Commons; Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Health and wellness are such vast categories, from the practical (a bath) to the head-scratching (leech therapy), that it’s hard to keep track of all the latest trends. As the sectors rapidly grew in the last few years—ballooning to a $3.7 trillion global industry—plenty of new and fascinating players have emerged.

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There are still your SoulCycles and Headspaces, but there are also your Bulletproof Coffees and Gwyneth Paltrows making a bigger dent in how people come to view self-care.  Even Tina Fey, some could say, became a wellness guru when she introduced America to “sheet caking”—the practice of consuming an entire tray of frosted cake—as a way to cope with the current political climate. As we  look back at the craziness that was 2017, let’s ponder the industry’s more interesting developments.

[Photo: courtesy of Hotel del Coronado]

Train Like A Mermaid

Have you ever wanted to work out with your legs melded together? Live out your under-the-sea fantasies with the Mermaid Fitness class at San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado. You can strap on a colorful tail for a 45-minute fusion class of swimming, cardio, and strength training in a luxury outdoor pool. The class is meant to help one “embody their inner mermaid,” but it sounds more like a grueling way to experience life as a children’s party entertainer.

Kidding Around

In what can only be best described as pure Instagram bait, fitness enthusiasts have upped the ante on their workouts by adding live animals. Goat yoga is exactly what it sounds like: throwing goats into your yoga class. A studio in Willamette Valley, Oregon, is one such place that incorporated the free-range livestock because “it’s impossible to be sad and depressed when there’s baby goats jumping around,” explains owner Lainey Morse.

The class has attendees attempting downward dogs and warrior poses as eight goats climb all over them and lick their face. It’s become a so-called “fitness craze” with hundreds of animal-lovers waiting for their chance to be trampled on.

Scream And Shout

If you need to yell, shout, or just get vocal about the year in politics–while, of course, burning calories–take The Class with Taryn Toomey. Billed as an “emotional workout,” the fast-paced session incorporates elements of yoga, Pilates, and cardio, all while letting yourself voice whatever your body is feeling at that moment. You will break a sweat while simultaneously releasing all that tension, whatever or whomever it’s geared at [insert name of the latest sexual predator to be outed].

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“We’re right at this moment where a lot of people are fed up and frustrated and scared and strong and brave and all of these dualities of things,” says founder Taryn Toomey. “This is a safe space.”

Get Experimental

Imagine a wonderland of Goop-esque wellness activities; a place where you inject yourself with IV nutrients, plunge into a below-freezing cryotherapy chamber, and test machines that “massage cells from the inside out” (whatever that means).

From the creators of Bulletproof Coffee comes Bulletproof Labs, described as a “human upgrade center” where for a pretty penny you can try out all the new buzzed-about technology out there. Does it work? There’s still no consensus on that, but it sure is an entertaining way to supposedly, as founder Dave Asprey says, “cheat fitness.”

Train Like A Justice

Embrace your inner Supreme Court badass with the Ruth Bader Ginsburg workout. The beloved judge’s trainer, Bryant Johnson, compiled Ginsburg’s exercise routine–and it is not for the faint-hearted. There are push-ups, squats, planks, and more tough moves to strengthen one for life on the bench. The illustrated book explains how to complete all the exercises at home, along with insider snippets about the 84-year-old icon:

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“During a recent workout, Justice Ginsburg upped the ante by doing her front plank in a full push-up position, with her hands on the floor, without even realizing she had slipped into this more difficult variation,” writes Johnson.

Pump That Quartz

Do you ever lift weights and think: if only they were, well, prettier? Swap out your dumbbells for nature’s homegrown weights–crystals. As Well+Good points out, working out with trendy rocks offers the same benefits of a traditional weight-lifting session, but with the added bonus of potential good vibes. Crystal guru Luke Simon recommends taking a chunk of clear quartz and working one’s biceps into a sweat.

“Not only am I building up my muscles, [but] I’m flexing my core,” demonstrated Simon, who added the real icing on the cake: “I’m also tapping into ancient wisdom of lemurian Altantean consciousness from these crystals that were used back in the day.”

Put Your Kitchen In Therapy

Have you heard about “the kitchen healer?” As Goop brought to our attention, Jules Blaine Davis is a professional who specializes in soothing the psychological wounds women associate with their place of cooking. Did your mother fail to serve you mac ‘n’ cheese? Has a burnt Thanksgiving turkey loomed over your psyche? Does your Crockpot mock you? The kitchen healer can help!

“How we were nourished as children and what it looked and felt like to cook, to serve, to eat, begins a deep and wide conversation about who we are and what we hunger for inside our bodies and in our lives,” writes Davis. “When we become adults, we get to rewrite this story.”

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For a fee, she will come to your home and somehow explain how your kitchen is giving you anxiety–then teach you how to roast some vegetables.

Repackaging Penis Pills For Millennials

Roughly two-thirds of men suffer hair loss by age 35, and 40% of men experience some degree of erectile dysfunction by the age of 40. So why do commercials selling Viagra or Rogaine always feature senior citizens in white linen pants strolling the beach?

Hims is a new e-commerce site attempting to solve these issues for younger men–with just a dash of millennial pink style. (The brand’s precious photography looks more like an Allure spread, or as one of my Fast Company colleagues called it, “Glossier for the boys.”) There will also be a skincare line as well as products in the grooming, mouth, and body hygiene categories.

“These are all issues that my friends and I thought about or struggled with at some point in our lives,” says Hims founder Andrew Dudum. “Inevitably what happens is we Google search really scary stuff at 3 a.m., and the results are either WebMD or snake oil products.”

[Photo: courtesy of Laughter Online University]

Laugh Your Way To Nirvana

Laughter yoga combines the healing psychological benefits and breathing techniques of yoga with “prolonged voluntary laughter.” This means gurus gather groups together and tell them jokes, instruct them to act silly, or sometimes command them to laugh for no reason (a fake-it-till-you-make-it approach).

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“Its core premise is that your body can and knows how to laugh, regardless of what your mind has to say,” explains Laughter Online University. “Because it follows a body-mind approach to laughter, participants do not need to have a sense of humor, know jokes, or even be happy.”

Gym Couture

Athleisure sales totaled $97 billion last year, up 40% from 2010, according to Morgan Stanley. So it’s no surprise that companies are looking for any which way to cash in on the fitness trend—even in sectors you wouldn’t necessarily expect. This last year saw a flush of skincare and makeup brands release athleisure lines, i.e., products to wear specifically for working out. Tarte, Birchbox, and Clinique are just a few of the companies that now cater to women who want to look good in the gym or run on the beach.

“The active lifestyle and culture has changed—going to the gym, yoga, or Pilates class is much more than just working out. Now it’s a social experience,” says Rochelle Rae, founder of Rae Cosmetics, sweat-resistant makeup made for women. “You don’t just go quickly and quietly work out alone and leave. You meet friends, then have a coffee or snack, you might even meet a future date and hit happy hour on a patio . . . You meet more people at the gym than at a nightclub or grocery store. So you want to look your best.”

Bespoke Baby Food

Food delivery startups started simple, but have since grown to a full-blown industry catering to niche tastes–and that includes those of babies (and even pets).

Most baby food startups attempt to offer nutritious solutions for busy parents who don’t want to constantly mush bananas, albeit with a trendy twist: Think blueberry chia seed pudding mixed with quinoa, dates, and wheat germ oil, or puréed squash and kale with spirulina, nutritional yeast, and flax.

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Others take the specialty route. Serenity Kids, for example, sells meat purees that are essentially the world’s first Paleo Diet-inspired baby food. The so-called “caveman diet” is high in fat and protein, and lacks all forms of dairy, grains, soy, and legumes. You know, in case you need your little one to consume “100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef with organic sweet potato” or “pastured uncured bacon that has organic butternut squash and organic kale.”