25 Sep 2022 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2022 issue 6

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Leisure Management - Rainer Usselmann

HCM People

Rainer Usselmann

Digital therapeutics could offer digital-first wellness ‘prescriptions’, digital ‘treatments’ and curated content to alter mood and improve wellbeing

Photo: Wund Holdings
Usselmann is redefining immersive experiences Photo: Happy Finish
The aim is for immersive wellness to make guests see and feel in new ways Photo: Wund Holdings
Two million guests currently visit Wund’s wellness destinations each year Photo: Therme Group
Photo: Wund Holdings
Customers will become partners in striving for attainable wellness, says Usselmann Photo: Wund Holdings
Germany’s largest wellbeing resort, in Bad Vilbel, will open in 2023 Photo: Therme Group

What trends do you see driving change in the fitness and wellness sector?
Wellness is undergoing a momentous digital transformation – from the music industry pivoting to ‘wellness’ music to new technologies that capture our biometric data to create personalised, healing breathwork. We’re entering the era of adaptive, personalised digital wellbeing solutions.

You’re working with Thermengruppe Josef Wund to create new services – what will these look like?
It’s all about immersive wellness. We’re developing a number of different technologies such as instructor-led or self-guided classes against changing, spectacular backdrops. These are delivered on room-sized curved screens in immersive, biophilic environments and also multisensory chroma yoga, enabled with motion tracking-based feedback.

The aim is for immersive wellness to make guests see, feel and experience in a new and multisensory way.

Tell us more about Thermengruppe Josef Wund
It’s a German company, that designs, develops and operates wellness resorts that combine the ancient tradition of thermal baths with the thrills of a modern waterpark, with a wide range of health and wellbeing options, such as yoga classes and workouts available and healthy food options.

These are all set within very large, architecturally spectacular, light-filled, biophilic spaces full of real vegetation and hundreds of giant palm trees. The resorts offer guests a unique wellbeing proposition, a refuge from the stresses of daily life and a holiday destination that’s just a short commute away.

How did the partnership come about?
When Thermengruppe Josef Wund approached us in early 2019, it was initially to develop a collaboration for our Virtual Reality SkySlide product, that we’d launched on the viewing platform of the Shard in London two years before (www.spabusiness.com/skyslide).

However, during the course of our initial conversations, it quickly became clear that there was an opportunity to extend our collaboration beyond a single VR project, and look at ways of widening Wund’s core proposition beyond the physical and into the metaverse.

How did the partnership develop?
Under the working title ‘Therme in your pocket’, we began a series of work-streams to establish and define how a digital ‘experiential’ layer could be added to their customer journey to meaningfully extend what was on offer in bricks and mortar; how we could enable digital and physical services for enhanced wellbeing, on site, on the go, at home and at work.

At the discovery phase, we researched the market for digitally-enabled wellbeing services from blockbuster Apps such as Calm, as well as trends – for example, the quantified/optimised self and health metrics. What became clear, very quickly, was the need to differentiate the new offer, and the vision of the service that Wund would bring to the market from more generic wellbeing propositions.

What direction did you head in?
We had to be clear about the specific and evolving needs and expectations of Wund’s core audience. Supported by a process of user and stakeholder interviews, we arrived at a few key considerations. While the general wellness market has seen exponential growth, particularly in the shape of global, self-serve wellness apps, either VC-funded, or from tech incumbents, we wanted to ensure that Wund’s offer was more authentic, more connected with their physical sites and services and their local and regional audiences.

How are you making it different?
With two million guests visiting Wund resorts annually, there’s a real gap for products and services that can meaningfully extend the company’s service offer and brand.

This presents a unique opportunity for a credible presence built on a well-established ecosystem within an otherwise increasingly crowded and generic wellness market.

The need for heightened focus on health and wellbeing has never been more acute. The pandemic has pushed narratives centre-stage that had been on the margins before, such as mental health, burnout, work-life balance, nutrition and so on.

What will the new services look like?
Digital therapeutics could offer digital-first wellness ‘prescriptions’, digital ‘treatments’ and curated content to alter mood and improve wellbeing. Our roadmap for Wund’s on-site and off-site programming will follow two key principles:
1. Immersive Wellness Solutions
These will deliver evidence-based wellness, combined with immersive technology to create interactive installations, experiential relaxation programmes and products.
2. The importance of community
We want to support Wund’s community to transform anxiety, support healthier lifestyles, and improve productivity. This will happen by building a community around wellness and technology, supporting a transition from a transactional proposition to the consumer becoming partners in striving for attainable wellness.

And what effects will they have?
These emerging ‘digital nutrition’ tools categorise content based on its proven ability to evoke six core emotions or mood groups: calm, confidence, connection, energy, focus and happiness. These moods are linked to the activity of neurotransmitters and hormones, such as GABA, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, acetylcholine, and serotonin.

How do you see the future of digital wellness?
Wellbeing needs redefining now that being digital has become a ‘thing’. We’re excited to be part of the redefinition of how meaningful immersive experiences can add value and a sense of wellbeing to people, whether they’re at home, at work, on the go or at play. We think of it as wellbeing remixed for the age of the metaverse.

Originally published in Health Club Management 2022 issue 6

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