World Wellness Weekend

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz proclaims Sept. 21-22 World Wellness Weekend in Athens. 

Widespread interest in, marketing of and engagement with the wellness industry can often make the priorities and practices of physical health hard to navigate. On the weekend of Sept. 21-22, local Athens health-related businesses will provide opportunities for consumers to test its services without charge in recognition of World Wellness Weekend.

World Wellness Weekend is a wide-spread marketing campaign for wellness industry franchises such as spas, gyms, yoga studios and salons. Over 2,000 vendors in 100 countries will participate in World Wellness Weekend according to its website.

The weekend was founded by Jean-Guy de Gabriac, who also founded Tip Touch, a consulting firm and educational resource for spas. In order to participate in the weekend, businesses are encouraged to register online and organize free “wellness activities” for consumers.

Once registered, businesses appear on the World Wellness Map. The site advises local franchise and business owners to be as “fun and creative” as possible to “catch the eye of the media” and the general public.

In Athens, Massage Envy, a spa chain that offers massages and skincare services, will participate in the wellness weekend. Massage Envy will provide a free skincare analysis with a free skincare product sample, or free trials of Rapid Tension Relief, a specialty massage which incorporates a mechanical massager called a Hypervolt, or a total body stretch, according to a press release.

Other local businesses like Pure Barre Athens, Burn Boot Camp, Fuel Hot Yoga, Tilt Cycling, Center City Ballet & Movement Arts, Georgia Strength, Ericksen PND and Club Pilates will also participate.

Free activities include a yin class at Fuel Hot Yoga, as well as a 60-minute hip-hop pilates class at Center City Ballet & Movement Arts.

“The thought of people finding joy through exercise is something that fuels us,” Pure Barre Athens franchise owner Connie Popwell said.

Wellness in Athens

Massage Envy Athens franchise owner Danielle Benson said the CEO of Massage Envy and official wellness ambassador for the U.S., Joe Magnacca, encouraged franchises all over the U.S. to participate in the weekend.

“We want to get our communities thinking about getting our bodies moving and overall health and wellness,” Benson said.

Benson said Magnacca asked her to be the wellness ambassador for the state of Georgia.

“I reached out to our governor, our locally-elected legislator as well as our state-elected legislators,” Benson said. “I shared what the event was and asked for help promoting health and wellness.”

Health in Georgia

Active people generally live longer and are at less risk for serious health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers, according to the CDC. Physical activity can also help people with chronic illnesses manage their symptoms.

In an effort to enact state-wide efforts to prevent heart disease, the Georgia Department of Public Health encourages Georgia residents to enact practices such as exercising for 30 minutes daily, managing diabetes, knowing cholesterol levels, eating fruits and vegetables, reducing sodium intake, avoiding smoking and drinking and maintaining a healthy weight.

Mayor Kelly Girtz said encouraging, growing and cultivating fresh foods is an important resource each Athens resident should be able to access.

“We in municipal policy-making and management have a responsibility to do everything we can to set some of the underlying groundwork to ensure good health outcomes,” Girtz said.

A study which measured the leading causes of death in Georgia found that the top three causes of death in the state are heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases, according to the Office of Health Indicators for Planning (OHIP) of the Georgia Department of Public Health. From 2013 to 2017, 86,942 Georgia residents died of heart disease and 83,671 people died of cancer according to the National Centers for Health Statistics (NCHS).

GDOPH contextualizes these statistics by revealing that the top three “actual” causes of death in Georgia are tobacco, diet, physical inactivity and alcohol.

Other social factors that impact public health include poverty, unemployment, education level and accessibility to health insurance. In Athens-Clarke County, 34.4% of the population is living in poverty and 16.2% is living without health insurance.

“If you look at the region, and examine national health outcomes data, we are part of the country that has a ways to go,” Girtz said.

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