Several years ago, I flew to the Richmond Nua Spa, the first destination spa in Turkey, to speak on a panel about Global Wellness Day at one of the first Global Wellness Day gatherings in the world.
Global Wellness Day (GWD) is the brainchild of Turkish-born Belgin Aksoy—also founder of Richmond Nua Wellness-Spa in Lake Sapanca. Aksoy turned her life around after a bout with thyroid cancer 10 years ago, and she has been determined to share the importance of health and wellness ever since.
Aksoy began with a simple idea: to create a day (the second Saturday in June) devoted to a celebration of wellness and healthy living around the world. This year, on June 11, GWD will be celebrated in 3,000 different locations on seven continents in 100 countries with the participation of more than 250,000 people.
Many resorts, hotels and spas are featuring special events for Global Wellness Day (see below), so make sure and check in on your favorites to see what is on the schedule.
Here is a recent conversation I had with Aksoy about Global Wellness Day 2016.
Belgin, when you came up with the idea for Global Wellness Day, did you imagine it would grow so big so quickly? What do you think it is about Global Wellness Day that resonates with so many people?
BA: The world’s societies are suffering from similar health problems because human experiences are similar everywhere. We get sad or happy for the same reasons. We face the same global problems such as racism, gender inequalities, terrorism and wars. We suffer from the same diseases.
According to the research, the most common disease throughout the world and the greatest danger facing mankind is depression, also known as unhappiness. Unhappiness leads to sleep deprivation, stress, poor nutrition, inactivity, obesity and heart disease.
But solving this problem that darkens our future is not as difficult as you might think. If you occasionally fall into indecision, the only thing you need to do is to look in the mirror and become more aware. Because the solution is standing right in front of you. It is Global Wellness Day.
Global Wellness Day is an entirely not-for-profit social project without any commercial purpose. All activities carried out under Global Wellness Day are free and open to the public. Our goal on this day is to create awareness and motivation to ensure that people make changes that will impact their well-being on the other 364 days of the year.
I have always believed that the idea of living well is almost the entire world’s shared dream. With Global Wellness Day, we have turned this shared dream into reality and people from all around the world have embraced the project.
Since 2012, Global Wellness Day has been growing fast and organically. Each day, at least 10 people from different countries reach out to the GWD Administrative Center in Istanbul to become an Ambassador and celebrate Global Wellness Day in their own country.
Another international development I would like to mention is that over the past two years, Global Wellness Day has received the support of Hollywood stars such as Ving Rhames, Josh Charles, Ty Burrell, Jessie Taylor Ferguson, Mayim Bialik, Joe Morton; authors such as Deepak Chopra and Agapi Stassinopoulos; sports stars such as Venus Williams and Rainbeau Mars; and leaders of the business world including Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson; co-creator of SKYPE, Jonas Kjellberg; and Wendy Kopp, CEO/Co-founder of Teach for All.
The project also has gained the attention of international media since 2012. The news of GWD has been published in Huffington Post, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, European Spa Magazine, Blue Wings Magazine, Cabines France, Vanity Fair, Insider’s Guide, Direto de Forte, Spa & Wellness Magazine, La Depeche, Women’s Health Magazine, Spa Business, World Travel Magazine, Turisticki Svet, and been broadcast on CNBC-E, RTBF, TVCOM, CNN-TURK, FOX, PHYSIQUE TV.
What are some of the highlights planned around the world for Global Wellness Day?
Constance Hotels and Resorts, ROYAT, Talise Spa (group of Jumierah Hotels & Resorts), LUX Hotels & Resorts Group, GRACE Hotels of America, GOCO Spas & GOCO Retreats, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, SIX SENSES, Marriott Spas, Thalasso & Spa Serge Blanco, St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, SENSE SPA, Kurotel, Divani Apollon Palace, Best Alpine Wellness Hotels, WTS International, HILTON Group, Red Door Spas, OBEROI Spas, Chuan Spas, Shangri-la Bosphorus Istanbul, Swiss Hotel, have confirmed their participation in Global Wellness Day with wellness activities including yoga, zumba, pilates, dance and healthy eating and nutrition seminars.
This year, you've dedicated the day to the memory of the lovely Charlene Florian, chief creative officer, Kerstin Florian International, who passed away not long ago. How would you like people to remember her? What did Global Wellness Day mean to her?
Throughout her life, Charlene Florian, chief creative officer, Kerstin Florian International, was always an ambassador of wellness, leaving an indelible footprint on the industry and giving her full support to Global Wellness Day from the very beginning. To honor and commemorate her memory, we have dedicated Global Wellness Day 2016 to Charlene Florian’s legacy.
Charlene has always been a nature lover and one of her passions was to make the world a better place. As a first step to honor Charlene’s memory, we have started the cooperation with TEMA (Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats) by planting 2,000 trees in Turkey to help green the lands with ‘Charlene Florian Forest’.
I have invited all GWD country Ambassadors to carry out the same practice for Charlene with the similar Foundations in their countries.