From Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone to Alia Bhatt and Karan Johar, Bollywood’s A-list often gives itself a beauty break at the luxurious VivaMayr retreats in Austria, located in sprawling, postcard-worthy campuses. Famous for its exclusivity, and its weight loss, skincare and chronic disease programmes, VivaMayr’s philosophy is rooted in a mindful way of living, taking both physical and psychological health into account. They are known for their unique brand of modern diagnostics and medicine programmes, which involve both diet and lifestyle changes too, called Modern Mayr.
Seeing a rise in Indian clientele, VivaMayr has partnered with Vedary, a holistic health centre in Mumbai, whose philosophy is rooted in natural healing. As per the agreement, doctors from the Austrian centre will visit Mumbai’s Vedary in March, May, September and December 2019, to offer consultations and therapy to clients.
“We’re an Austrian company working internationally, and this partnership gives us great possibility, as we’re working in the same direction as Vedary—we both want to make the lives of our clients better,” says Dr Sepp Fegerl, a doctor from VivaMayr Altaussee regarded as a global expert on their philosophy of Modern Mayr medicine. “We believe that strengthening the base of the individual is important, and we unfold our programmes with training and exercise on one side, combining it with a holistic diet and medicine on the other.”
VivaMayr will send physicians to Mumbai four or five times a year. These physicians are also sports scientists, who, in addition to treating local clients, will organise lectures, trainings and workshops at Vedary. At Vedary, the treatments are focused on principles from Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, sound therapy and so on, and aim to bring balance to clients with bespoke programmes.
“Traditional European medicine has the same roots as Chinese and Ayurvedic therapy, in that what is most important is the observation of what makes a human successful, and what makes causes negative impact. Also, the observation that every human being is different and needs individual therapy and support. That’s the core at which we join with Vedary, and from there, we build possibilities of how to make our clients healthier,” adds Dr Fegerl.
An obvious challenge is that while VivaMayr’s original campus is an idyllic retreat, Vedary finds itself smack in the middle of the city. “That is a basic difference,” he says. “In Austria, we have clients who come to us and stay with us for weeks, months at a time. We can’t do that here, and if you are silent, you can hear the tempo of the city. It would be great if this tempo is translated immediately into muscle performance [laughs]. But what we offer here are follow up sessions for our Indian clients, second opinions, and small habits you can change to live a healthier life in the city.”
Indian clients face particular problems, say the doctors, which stem from the country’s diet and lifestyle choices. “India is a blessed subcontinent when it comes to vegetables, fruits, spices and grains. We love the way Indians treat their grains. But spice is a challenge, it’s sometimes an unnecessary addition to your food, and it costs you,” says Dr Fegerl.
Another challenge is the growing sedentary lifestyle, which is linked to an economy that allows you to outsource daily chores in India. “This is my fourth time in India, and while I have worked with many Indian clients, I didn’t know their background much,” says Michael Omann, head of sport science and exercise therapy at VivaMayr Altaussee. “Coming here is always eye opening. For a healthy lifestyle, every step counts, even if it’s just to get a glass of water. Here, it’s possible to avoid every single step, as you have help for simple chores too. A driver to take you places. An office where you sit for 10 hours. That’s very different from a European lifestyle, where there is more movement. You need the little things, and you can’t compensate them for 20 minutes on a treadmill after work.”
The key, says Omann, is to bring in small habit changes. “We often hear people here complain that they don’t have time for fitness. But, for instance, you don’t have to take a long phone call sitting down; you can move around while you do,” he says. “Do a few sitting stretches while you reply to e-mails. You could walk about 500 metres every day just getting glasses of water. Create your own wellness routine, and don’t limit yourself.”
“The bigger a city is, the hipper it is, and the more global it is, the quicker people want things,” adds Dr Fegerl. “People want exercise routines that will make them look like Shah Rukh Khan after the first day, but that doesn’t exist. Just like with a family or a business, you have to invest time, attention and love into your body if you want for it to love and support you over time.”
Breaking down the buzzwords
The wellness market has burgeoned and evolved rapidly over the past few years, and the customer has become more demanding. “They have access to a lot more information now, which makes them more knowledgeable, but very often, more confused,” he adds. “But they’re willing to question therapies. There’s a revolution that’s very exciting from a medical perspective, in which clients must realise that different things work for different people, unlike with the old days of allopathy.”
What’s important, he says, is to be as non-dogmatic as possible. “And also to be as serious as possible about your mission. You can make a lot of money just by selling something with a smile—like chia seeds! Or apple cider vinegar. These are super as a treatment for some people at the right moment. But it’s not a solution for everyone, and definitely not a substitute for an active lifestyle.”
An initial consultation session at Vedary begins at Rs 4,000.