At 10:15 a.m. Saturday, a line had already begun to form on the Galleria level of the Westin Boston Waterfront as people waited in anticipation for the opening of Be Healthy Boston’s Marketplace. A place for the 500 attendees to experience the offerings of local health and wellness businesses, the Marketplace was part of Be Healthy Boston’s urban wellness retreat, two days of workshops and keynote sessions, which was reportedly the first of its kind in the Boston area.
According to Brett Blumenthal, founder of the consumer show Be Healthy Boston, the goal of the Marketplace was to create an atmosphere of play that felt personalized and intimate, unlike a fair or expo. “The Marketplace allows [attendees] to find and experience all of the …companies that can support them in their path to wellness." Attendees, she said, left "feeling educated, inspired, and empowered to continue on a path of wellness.”
Within the Marketplace, Blumenthal’s “path to wellness” consisted of four stops—vendor areas, the fitness corner, the kitchen, and the book nook. In the vendor areas, attendees could visit the tables of the more than 50 participating businesses and test-run their services, including a botanical mini-facial from Aveda, a stress relief treatment from Bella Acupuncture, a makeover from BABOR make-up, and a chair massage from Massage Envy Spa.
For those wanting to heat up before cooling down in the vendor areas, the fitness corner offered 16 types of exercise classes to sample, from Pilates and yoga to new, less well-known options like Gyrokinesis, a technique based on spinal movement, and the Bar Method, a ballet barre-based exercise.
Sponsored by Whole Foods and Viking Kitchens, the kitchen provided cooking demonstrations from local chefs, including Kate Quigley of Olivia’s Organics, Jody Adams of Rialto, and Frederick Rubin for CasCal. Dishes were chosen based on their healthfulness and were often healthier versions of classic comfort foods, including chef Rubin’s CasCal crisp white cheese fondue.
The book nook, sponsored by Trident Booksellers and Café on Newbury Street, provided fiction and nonfiction works on health-related topics for attendees to browse and purchase. Throughout the weekend, workshop leaders, keynote speakers, and panelists were available in the book nook to sign their latest publications.
To section off these various areas within the sprawling 20,000 square feet of the Marketplace, designers Boston Green Building, Clevergreen Cabinets, GaiamTV.com, and ZeroEnergy Design used art installations and natural materials to divide spaces. Hundreds of slim metal pipes, topped with empty, upside-down wine bottles, formed an incongruous wave pattern in a long base, separating the vendor area from the kitchen. Natural unfinished wood boxes served as vases for stalks of wheat grass and delicate branches.
After attendees had listened to the keynote speakers, participated in the workshops, and explored the Marketplace, they had the opportunity to bid in a silent auction to support the Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies. Auction packages included a Yoga Starter Kit from Lululemon Athletica, Wellness Treatments from Newton Chiropractic and Wellness Centre, and a Blue Marble Brands gift basket.
With more than $3,000 raised for Zakim and the challenge of pulling off an inaugural event behind her, Blumenthal said she looks forward to what’s next. “[Attendees and vendors] loved the programming and sessions, and they truly loved the experiential component of the event. They want more, and I’m excited about next year's event and what's to come for 2012 from the Be Healthy Boston network.”