This piece originally appeared in our sister publication Jing Meta. Sign up for the Jing Meta newsletter here.

Having gone from buzzword to the backbone of daily routines across the globe, thanks to the stress of grueling work schedules, the pandemic and its related lockdowns, and financial woes, wellness is now going virtual.

It’s an exciting new era, as the $1.5 trillion market (as of 2021, according to McKinsey & Co) is entering a new growth phase, centered on Web3.

“The metaverse offers the opportunity to extend digital experiences further with a fuller sensory experience for users,” Cat Turner, CCO and Co-founder of creative agency Cult and Metaverse Beauty Week tells Jing Daily. “In a market that is constantly being driven by innovation, the wellness industry has much to gain from imprinting unique experiences and practices onto an otherwise busy and frantic environment.”

From physical exercise and nutrition to mindfulness and journaling, which have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, thanks to platforms like TikTok, wellness practices have become a non-negotiable resource for millions, helping them improve their health.

Approximately 200-500 million people now engage in meditation alone worldwide, with mindfulness and meditation app market revenue forecast to reach $2.6 billion by 2028.

The Sweatcoin platform has become one of Web3’s most popular ecosystems that rewards people for movement. Photo: Sweatcoin

Nataliya Grimberg, Metaverse Strategist at virtual reality company Somnium Space believes that a bigger focus on wellness in Web3 would create “a more positive and harmonious digital space.”

“It’s a great way to counter some of the not-so-healthy habits that can come with online gaming, like endless gaming sessions, too much sitting around, and feeling isolated,” she says.

The company recently introduced its own weekly meditation sessions to help ground employees and foster a sense of interconnectedness, and motivate them to pay more attention to their mental wellbeing.

The Global Wellness Institute, a global non-profit organization specializing in empowering wellness worldwide, also recently launched its own Web3 initiative.

It aims to focus on the intersection of wellness economy and major web-related developments through extensive research into the virtual realm, exploring what decentralized technologies can bring to the wellness sector and how they can impact the holistic health of internet users.

Initiatives like these may seem far-fetched to those unfamiliar with the new iteration of the internet, but they’re rapidly becoming a pillar of Web3’s survival.

Move-to-earn health and fitness app Stepn collaborated with Asics on a co-branded NFT sneaker collection in 2022. Photo: Stepn

Making wellness mainstream

Wellness activities may be popular, but their presence in the digital landscape is nascent. To date, Web3-native startups are leading wellness’ expansion in the virtual realm.

But Turner believes all types of brands should put wellness on their radar. “The pay off is an ever-growing global community that prioritizes a mindful approach to their technology use, which leads to strong brand affinity,” she says.

Founded in 2016, move-to-earn cryptocurrency application Sweatcoin converts its users’ daily steps into tokens to spend on products from its dedicated marketplace, or donate to charity. Built on the concept of promoting physical fitness by incentivizing movement, the free app had reportedly attracted 110 million users in more than 60 countries by September 2022, with over 25 billion sweatcoins having been created.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine also found that Sweatcoin users had increased their daily step count by 20%, on average, in the six months after downloading the app. Initiatives like these encourage Web3 users to go offline and participate in daily exercise through placing a value on movement.

Similarly, sleep-to-earn programs are also growing in popularity, encouraging participants to improve their downtime and sleeping habits. The Sleep app enables users to put their device’s status into modes such as “sleeping” and “mental health and rest” to earn $ZZZ, the platform’s native currency coin, which members can use to purchase non-fungible token (NFT) assets. With over 72,000 followers on Twitter, it’s already attracted a willing target audience.

But for the movement to truly take off, it will need the backing of the industry’s giants. Currently, only a few mainstream labels are moving into the space.

Users can earn the application’s native currency by taking time off their phone to rest and improve their sleep habits. Photo:

Over the past 12 months, LA-based athleisure label Alo Yoga has integrated its health community into Web3 through schemes such as online meditation sessions and token-gated memberships.

The brand has accumulated over 1 million users of its “Alo Sanctuary” Roblox experience alone, in which visitors take part in guided meditation and yoga classes, explore soothing sound baths, and move to earn exclusive Alo Yoga products.

It’s all part of the label’s ambitions to create a “mindful metaverse ecosystem.”

“The benefit is that you can focus on your mindful movement or your mental health, no matter where you are,” Angelic Vendette, the brand’s global head of marketing tells Jing Daily. “If you are spending time in the metaverse, you’re able to take a moment from your day, as well as use the space to remind you to make time for breath work and to ground yourself.”

Alo Yoga’s digital success is rooted in both its early adoption and its popularity among the Gen Z crowd — the demographic set to embrace and benefit most from Web3 as a result of its openness to adopting new technologies and health-consciousness.

Combatting consumer reticence towards Web3

Companies and Gen Z consumers may be bullish about the movement, but a wide range of prospective users are yet to be convinced.

Observers struggle to see the concept as anything but paradoxical. With internet addiction now identified as one of the leading causes of depression, how is mindfulness in the online world possible?

“A lot of folks in the wellness space will say that yoga and meditation are all about being here and being present; so, how can it be that you’re inciting mindfulness online? What I say is if we are going to truly live holistically well in an integrated and meaningful manner, then it most certainly also needs to be present in the metaverse and benefit our community in that realm,” Vendette says.

The athleisure label is investing heavily into bringing better wellness practices into the metaverse, and it’s paying off. Photo: Roblox / Alo Yoga

Turner echoes this sentiment. “Wellness and technology have always been uncomfortable bedfellows as the traditional holistic practices of wellness therapies are often at odds with the speed and tempo that technology offers,” she says. “However, over recent years, we’ve seen more and more consumption of tech-based wellness apps and platforms – such as Headspace and Calm – transform the lives of users through daily practices.”

To overcome reticence, enthusiasts and companies alike must prove how Web3 can further enhance the concept of wellness, rather than hinder it.

The future of wellness-meets-Web3

For the movement to truly take off, more traditional influencers (like Alo Yoga) and emerging disruptors need to jump on board.

Also, the balance between users taking accountability for their own wellness routines such as time away from screens and regular movement, and companies encouraging participants needs to be just right.

Jackaline Tang, Gaming Partnerships Manager at Brand New Vision believes that netizens have a responsibility for cultivating a healthy relationship with Web3, and that building a supportive community is a mindfulness practice in itself.

“Fundamentally it is up to the users {to take accountability for their own wellbeing in Web3}, but that’s also why communities are great. Not only can community managers and moderators help monitor behaviors and language, but they can also ban if necessary,” Tang explains.

The rise in companies acknowledging the need for better health initiatives in Web3 is a promising step forward.

Grimberg is also optimistic that new advancements like artificial intelligence will help propel Web3, and positively impact the health of the community. “As software development keeps pushing boundaries, these experiences will become even more immersive,” she says. “But it doesn’t stop there. Hardware evolution and, hopefully, democratization, mean wellness in the metaverse will become accessible to more people.”

Over time, wellness in Web3 will become less a niche, and more an indispensable part of our experience in the digital world.


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