Julia Sutton has been at the forefront of the wellness space for the majority of her career. Following amazing success as spa director, building many spa programs nationwide, Sutton took her expertise to the next level. In 2002 Sutton founded one of the most pivotal wellness brands of our generation, Exhale Spa. Exhale created a unique approach to exercise and recovery and has partnered with many hotel brands across the country to bring Exhale into their spa program. In 2017 Exhale was acquired by Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, and has since become fully integrated into the World of Hyatt.
Sutton’s newest venture has brought her down to the Magic City, as she embarks on a new journey with Vitruvia as the Chief Growth Officer. Vitruvia has helped some of the world’s top athletes, musicians and CEOs take full advantage of their bodies through a natural approach to restore and repair tissues, coined the non-surgical pain treatment.
We caught up with Sutton to talk all about Exhale, Virtuvia, new wellness trends and more.
You’ve been involved in the wellness space for the majority of your career, what pulled you in?
I have been involved in sports my whole life and always enjoyed taking fitness classes and working out in the gym. When I attended university in New York City, I worked at The Peninsula Spa. This ended up being a great start to my career in wellness and it was there that I discovered my passion for the industry. I was attracted to the wellness space because I saw firsthand how it can positively affect each part of one’s life.
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What was your vision in combining spa treatments with physical activity at Exhale?
All rigorous exercise creates a need for recovery. Many people are injured due to insufficient recovery from intense exercise. I saw this as an opportunity to combine the recovery aspects that you would experience at a destination spa with exercise since they are both needed for optimal living. That is when we created this at Exhale and made it more approachable for clients to incorporate both of these practices into their daily lives and not just when on holiday.
How did your business model have to pivot during the last year in a half?
Our business, like many others in the wellness and hospitality space, was put under extreme pressure during this period. Our focus and priority was the wellbeing of our guests and our team. We focused on all necessary safety protocols for reopening and created digital experiences to ensure our community could continue to take care of their mental and physical health. Ultimately, it was crucial for us to invest more in the digital experience as the shift to the hybrid and remote working environments became more prevalent. That said, health and wellness as everyone now knows is more important than ever.
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Wellness routines are pretty daunting to many, what would you say to someone who wants to embark on a wellness journey but doesn’t know how or where to start?
Baby steps! Many believe that to start a wellness journey takes a huge amount of commitment and time. A wellness routine can start anywhere and at any time. It can be as simple as implementing one small practice that takes less than three minutes. For example, you could start by taking five deep breaths when we wake up as opposed to jumping right out of bed to answer emails.
What is your biggest piece of advice for someone struggling with work-life balance?
Often, the real struggle with work-life balance is to strengthen the “life” part of that balance. It’s important to remember we only have one life and we need to slow down often enough to fully appreciate what we have. Remember, work will always be there and is, of course, necessary.
Also, partner up and lean on your friends and family in times of need! Finding someone to hold you accountable and assist you in finding that balance, whether it’s a friend, family member, therapist or life coach is critical. It truly takes a village, but it only works if you’re willing to be vulnerable and seek help when you feel out of balance.
What do you predict to be the next health and wellness trend?
In general, I think natural medicine and self-healing is going to continue to trend upwards. I see an interesting potential with the human relationship with fungi. There is a whole network of fungi that lives under our feet, and it has amazing medicinal and healing capabilities. This, along with other natural medicine like the amniotic proteins we are using in the Vitruvia clinics, will become more popular in years to come.
How did your most recent opportunity with Vitruvia come to life?
From the moment I heard about the therapeutics they were performing, I was intrigued by the way they were able to transform lives. I was then introduced to the Vitruvia team and their cutting-edge therapies by the co-founder of Exhale, Annbeth Eschbach. After meeting the amazing, talented team, I was beyond excited for the opportunity to be a part of this movement.
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Where do you see both Exhale and Vitruvia in 5 years?
In five years, I see both of these brands continuing to push the boundaries in the health and wellness space. For Vitruvia specifically, I envision our team opening multiple locations throughout the country, allowing its life-changing treatments to become more accessible to the masses and putting a significant end to chronic pain. Vitruvia will change the way people approach their physical well-being, ultimately leading to improved mental wellbeing as well.
Vitruvia’s brick and mortar is located at 1900 Purdy Avenue in Miami Beach with an amazing roster of doctors and scientists.
Photography by: Courtesy Julia Sutton