Exploring Wellness in LA


By Tina Takhmazyan


Los Angeles, land of the green juices and free-trial yoga classes. Walking on a busy street in Atwater Village with friends, I noticed a common word scattered throughout the city. Wellness shots, wellness yoga, wellness supplements and a book of wellness mantras.

What exactly is wellness? Being healthy? Why is Los Angeles the health nut nirvana? Why do we consume so much kale and green juice?

As a regular consumer of both, I wasn’t sure so I asked someone who I know would be: my grandmother.

Instead of the traditional chocolate chip cookie, my grandmother makes me a smoothie every time I visit. She’s a vegan and does yoga on a daily basis. She’s also the happiest person I know. So I decided to ask her.

“I do yoga because it’s unity. It’s a higher concept than health. It’s wellness for the mind and soul,” she said.

“And I think green juices are great! I think it’s good that people are drinking them more,” she said, laughing. “Wellness to me is in the mind, body and soul. It’s a combination of all three, to be well. It’s especially popular [in Los Angeles]. I’m not sure why. But who doesn’t want to be well?”

Right on, grandma.

Juices have become more than a simple pick me up. It’s like a badge of honor into an exclusive club. A Gwenyth Paltrow approved, $12 conversation starter. You’re on a juice cleanse too? Oh my gosh, me too! My skin is glowing and I’ve already lost five pounds! Have you tried the new triple green goddess?

But wellness culture is more than juices. It’s becoming a lifestyle, and one that is rapidly increasing in popularity.

For instance, Whole Foods isn’t just a grocery store. Their endless aisles of organic sunscreen and sustainably made cotton totes sell a lifestyle. A lifestyle that no one is quite cool for.

All of this makes me think about my bottle of cucumber and kale concoction sitting in my fridge, probably expired. After I finished my overpriced salad, my mind couldn’t help but wander to a different idea.

Maybe this entire health trap is just that, a trap with deep, stiff roots set in capitalism. Maybe green isn’t so great. Maybe this idea is persuading us to buy magical crystals that “heal”, when they don’t actually do anything at all. Maybe we’re not getting any younger or more beautiful. Maybe wellness is a destination that we’ll never reach.

Seeing my grandmother overjoyed at a new vegan cookie recipe, I wasn’t sure if I cared.  Wellness is in the eye of the beholder. We all want to be “well”, even if we don’t exactly know what that means. So let’s cheer to wellness. Spinach shots anyone?