Sydney is experiencing a surge in the number of wellness centres and bathhouses where guests can do the likes of ice bath, sauna and treatments, performed by a therapist or, in the case of a zero-gravity experience offered at Recoverie, a machine.
“We think this surge is due to the wider community recognising more than ever, the importance of holistic well-being,” says Eduardo Mendez, Chief Marketing Officer at Recoverie, which has locations in Coogee and Manly.
“With an increased awareness of the connection between mind and body, people are looking at health beyond traditional medicine,” he says. “The industry’s incorporation of diverse practices, including mindfulness, recovery, nutrition and fitness, is resonating with a broad audience eager to invest in their overall health and happiness.”
In addition to the zero-gravity experience, which removes external stimuli, instead surrounding you with coloured lights that mimic a starry sky and soothing sounds of your choice played through headphones, as you “float”, the studios also offer hot and cold therapy. You can do these with others in shared facilities or on your own in a room.
Tash Coggan opened Slow House on Bondi’s Curlewis Street after doing ice baths with her family in their home bathtub during COVID and discovering their benefits. She says the surge in wellness centres can be attributed to people increasingly seeking alternative solutions to manage stress, improve mental clarity and find moments of peace.
“We are finding, more recently, this shift is further fuelled by the growing ‘sober curious’ movement, where individuals choose to reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption and explore alternative social experiences,” Coggan says.
Coggan says most guests on the weekend visit in groups of three or four, as the ice bath and sauna sessions can be a fun way to spend time with friends. People can catch up on each other’s lives in a relaxed setting, she says. At Recoverie, Mendez says bringing a friend or two for cold emersion can encourage friendly competition.
During the week, though, Coggan says she finds more of Slow House’s clientele usually come alone, escaping a busy household or home office to switch off. She sees wellness centres and bathhouses as focused on cultivating a healthy lifestyle.
“Regular attendance helps assist in a routine, rather than a ‘treat’, which spas offer,” she says. “Spas provide a temporary escape for relaxation and pampering.”
Samantha Appel is a skin-needling specialist and founder of The Bath House in Rozelle, which opened earlier this year. She says one of the reasons for the wellness space boom is that the neuroscience and results behind the therapies they offer are significant.
We’re seeing social influence from top neuroscientists, as well as from celebrities who are endorsing the treatments. This includes Chris Hemsworth, who starred in a series exploring wellness treatments called ‘Limitless’.
“Post-COVID, there’s also a general shift in people’s mindsets towards having a greater focus on their health and wellness,” she says. “This combined with Sydneysiders’ general health-centric approach to their lifestyle. We’re finding people on Hinge dates, Friday night hangs and friends just catching up is more and more popular.”
The latest new wellness space to open in Sydney focuses on a practice not often associated with “wellness”: dental care. Sage Space in Darlinghurst by dentist Corbin Barry flips the idea that all dental offices have to have a clinical feel on its head.
Instead, it offers customers a bright and airy space by Bandit Design Group and Strutt Studios with designer homewares and pops of colour. Customers will hear a curated playlist in the reception and smell fragrances by Maison Balzac.
“Dental appointments are often seen as a chore or non-essential, but Sage Space focuses on taking each person on a journey, highlighting the importance of prevention and helping guide them to make the mundane task of dental appointments an act of deep self-care,” says Barry.
The aim of Sage Space, he says, is to highlight to the community that with prevention, including regular check-ups, cleans, screening and management of issues around jaw pain, you can possibly avoid treatments like fillings, root canals and crowns.
“I think there is a transition to society becoming more honest with themselves, and actually loving themselves,” he says. “There are so many external pressures we have faced over the past few years and so many people are wanting to understand how they fit into the world and how they can look after themselves more holistically.”
“Beauty and self-care aren’t just on the outer surface, it’s deeper than that, and we’re beginning to see a definite transition to whole-person care.”