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 Post Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:48 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:44 am
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WE LIVE IN THE age of wellness: wellness programs at work, wellness influencers, and wellness foods that were probably just as good for you before being labeled well. And it’s big business. Just look at all of the CBD products promising overall wellness that have yet to be scientifically studied. Or, I don’t know, Goop. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness is a more than $3.7 trillion market and the biggest future trend is mental wellness Private Mental Health Retreats.

Whether you blame it on toxic living environments or our consumerist need to buy anything that promises to fill the holes in our unsatisfied lives, wellness is an unavoidable topic in the year of our internet overlords 2019. Which is why, for the subset of people who can afford it, escaping to a wellness retreat is the ultimate vacation (and Instagram post).

The quest for wellness is what brought me to Horse Shoe Farm near Asheville, North Carolina, one afternoon in early April. Specifically, it was a quest to see how much good a wellness trip could do for a food-and-drink-focused writer whose health could best be described as not not well. I did, after all, start the sojourn with a lukewarm Wendy’s chicken sandwich at the all-too-horrid Newark International Airport.

Less than five hours after my flight from New York City landed, I was in Horse Shoe Farm’s chicken and goat pen with two newborn goats that looked like they might trip on their umbilical cords with every attempt at a step toward their mom, Bobby Marley. If wellness is forgetting a growing pile of deadlines and a bottomless pit of emails, it did not take long for me to find it.

The science behind wellness retreats
There’s a class of people very familiar with wellness. You can usually pick these people out because they mention wellness shortly after meeting them. Then there are the normies who chug along, drowning in the anxieties of modern life, maybe not even knowing they are unwell. There’s a middle ground in there somewhere, but you’d be hard pressed to find it in many of the bustling cities in the US.

A growing number of wellness retreats and wellness-focused destinations are here to fix the ailments of the latter two categories of people, as well as bolster the wellness cred of the former. They’re idyllic, relaxing, and usually surrounded by beautiful nature. Horse Shoe Farm is one of these. It’s a short (and cheap, with Allegiant flights at the time of writing going for around $100) flight away from the Big Apple.

Horse Shoe Farm is mental health-focused yet also very much a working farm — one guest’s dog managed to get ahold of a chicken named Tenders, and Tenders was turned into soup. It’s run by Jordan Turchin, who grew up in Miami and worked in the film industry in New York and Los Angeles. These days, the 33-year-old is most likely to be seen taking care of farm duties with his hair tied back and wearing his crystal necklace.

He’s helped co-workers bond and couples escape. Along with taking care of the goats, chickens, and ducks, he’ll set up yoga classes in the meditation room and massages in the converted horse stables. He’ll help you out at the morning juice bar and point the way to the best nearby hikes. Or not. The point of Horse Shoe Farm is to interpret wellness in a way that makes you actually well rather than stressed about ticking off some 12-step plan. When asked for an example of success, Turchin recalled a New York couple that came phones in hand, but before long he “could just see [them] melting back to the earth.”

“The people who are plugged in are really plugged in,” he told me as we talked about life in New York. “But then you release and you’re like, ‘did I need that?’”

An escape to a wellness farm certainly made me question why I needed my phone other than to take photos of baby goats. The science behind the feelings, though, is sparse. One of the first published studies on wellness retreats made it into the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine in 2017. It had the telling and wordy title, “Do Wellness Tourists Get Well? An Observational Study of Multiple Dimensions of Health and Well-Being After a Week-Long Retreat.” The study concluded that, while it had its limitations in terms of participant size, “retreat experiences can lead to substantial improvements in multiple dimensions of health and well-being that are maintained for 6 weeks.”

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