There have always been places in which people can go to meet wellness needs. As Robert Hammond, co-founder of the Highline and president and chief strategy officer for Therme North America, describes it to me, “In the old days, people used to go to boxes.” If you want to move your body, you go to the gym box. If you need to care for your skin, you go to the spa box. If you need a dose of greenery, you go to the park box. And now, these boxes all seem to be merging—creating something entirely of their own.
These new spaces that have opened up go well beyond just gyms, salons, workout studios, spas, spiritual centers, or mental health spots. They’re holistic social spaces that offer multiple modalities to pique any interest.
Take for example Therme, a leader in wellness who is bringing ancient thermal bathing practices back to urban areas all across the globe, with more on the way. These modern bathhouses combine thermal bathing, nature escapes, and entertainment—with a business model designed to keep the entrance price low. For another option focusing on bathing culture, Othership in Toronto combines the healing powers of breathwork, saunas, cold therapy, and more.
Other centers expand into classes, beauty services, and high-tech treatments. The Well has three locations (New York, Connecticut, and Costa Rica) that offer treatments, classes, and access to some of the most in-demand wellness experts around. Or New York’s recently opened Sage + Sound, which has lymphatic drainage massages, Tracie Martyn facials, acupuncture, a speaker series, and daily classes that range from poetry to meditation. Remedy Place is a bicoastal “self-care social club” that comes with a hefty price tag to join but boasts membership perks like unlimited cryotherapy and four breathwork ice baths a month.
And for the whole family, Lifetime describes itself as an “athletic country club” and offers fitness classes, spa services, sports leagues, and health and nutrition coaching. It has 161 locations across the U.S. Or for the spiritually minded, churches have even shaped themselves into wellness centers offering cafes and sports courts: Entrepreneur John Fio has dubbed it the “future of faith in America” and “SoHo house for those with a soul.”
These create opportunities where people can convene, share stories, be heard, and learn from one another. Wellness is a group project in which the success of one member can impact the rest.
“There are so many different ways to connect. It’s about creating accessibility—creating a comfortable home that lends itself to community,” says Lauren Zucker, co-founder of Sage + Sound. One of the space’s notable points is that it’s not membership-based, so you can drop into whatever services or classes work for you and maybe even introduce yourself to something new in the process.
Someone might go to a wellness center to get a facial but leave having learned a breathwork technique for stress management. Someone looking to better their meditation practice may leave with advice on acupressure and maybe even a fresh manicure. It’s about cross-pollination.