July 11, 2019 at 06:53AM by CWC
When the editors at Well+Good looked into our crystal balls last December in order to name what we were sure would be the white hot, can’t-stop-talking-about-it trends in wellness for 2019, a clear vision of “one-stop wellness” stood out from the haze. New establishments and beloved brands were putting all the elements that encompass “living well”—from exercising, to eating, to inspired co-working—under one roof. On Thursday, Lululemon proved that this trend is only gaining ground as we cruise into the back half of 2019 by opening its first “experiential” store in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.
Lululemon’s two-level, 20,000-square-foot store (its largest brick-and-mortar location to date) is, according to Celeste Burgoyne, Lululemon’s executive vice president of the Americas and global guest innovation, “the physical manifestation of Lululemon’s values.” “We’re excited to have [the store] open because we believe it expresses our DNA in such a beautiful way,” she says. “The ‘SweatLife’ is our overarching word for the belief that our full potential can be ignited when we take care of our bodies, take care of our minds, and create connection points.”
As Burgoyne points out, one-stop wellness fills the need for spaces where healthy living meets convenience. When all your go-tos share an address, you cut out the commute between barre class, meditation, and nutrition. “With so many different offerings in the health and wellness space, people find themselves running around town and often receiving conflicting advice, which can be both time-consuming and confusing,” says Rebecca Parekh, co-founder and CEO of The Well—a wellness “ecosystem” set to open in Manhattan later this summer. People just want to feel better—period.
Lululemon’s “SweatLife” philosophy helps make people feel better through three pillars: sweat (brought to life in the Lincoln Park location with six to 10 athletic and meditation classes offered in-store daily), grow (consisting of workshops and collaborative spaces), and connect (which takes the shape of a “Fuel Space”—aka restaurant—where nutrition and community collide). And, yes, it wouldn’t be Lululemon without row after row of ultra-technical apparel.
Athleisure vendors transforming their stores into holistic lifestyle hubs is something we saw emerging on the coasts last year: Athleta’s Wellness Collective—a collaboration with Well+Good—squeezes enlightening wellness conversations, healthy eating workshops, and sweat sessions into a monthly Saturday morning meet-up at the brand’s New York City flagship location. Alo Yoga operates hybrid retail-slash-studio-slash-refueling stations in New York and Santa Monica, California. Lululemon’s Midwest location signals that the trend is going national.
At Well+Good’s recent sold-out TALK on the topic of under-one-roof wellness, panelist Kate Flannery, head of community and partnerships at Athleta explained why people seek a 360-degree approach to a healthy lifestyle. “Fitness fuels us and it’s amazing and it’s incredible, but what we’re also realizing is there’s so much more to being healthy,” she said. “What we’ve heard from all our customers and what we’ve seen in our research is that women are hungry for [one-stop wellness], we need it. We crave it… but how do we find it? How do we make it accessible?”
By folding hands-on experiences into old-school business models, cutting-edge brands create a new status quo for how people interact with their wellness practices—and each other. But, as Flannery suggests, making all-in-one wellness experiences available to everyone isn’t something we can’t check off the to-do list just yet. A class at Lululemon’s newly minted store costs $25. And once you buy a coffee, a sports bra, and a mat towel—well, it ain’t cheap. Events held in the store are generally free to attend, however, providing ways to interact with the brand that don’t require a substantial budget.
Lululemon’s new store is meant to serve as a think tank to explore what modern day consumers are looking for in a destination that’s dedicated to self care, says Burgoyne. “What’s beautiful about Lincoln Park is it’s our opening point to going deeper into creating local connections, and really working even closer with our ambassadors,” she says. This rings true for all the similar spaces opening throughout the U.S. One-stop wellness has arrived, but how it will evolve is in the hands of the the folks who show up to buy yoga pants—and stick around for yoga class, meditation, and dinner, too.