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The Wellness Questionnaire With Kimberly Marshall, Host of Global Wellness Conversations and Co-Founder of S’Well The Agency

Discover the lessons this industry insider has learned to live her own best life

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Kimberly Marshall, host of the Global Wellness Conversations podcast and co-founder of S’Well The Agency, is certainly no stranger to the wellness industry. In 1995, she founded The Marshall Plan, a communications firm specializing in wellness, sustainability, and wellness tourism. Throughout the years, she has worked to promote properties such as the Golden Door, Rancho La Puerta, and Grand Wailea Resort, among others. As host of the podcast series from the Global Wellness Summit, she has interviewed some of the most impactful leaders in the industry on an array of topics, including trends, new innovations, mental wellness, and more. Here, Marshall shares some of the insights she has gleaned from her work in the industry.      

What does wellness mean to you?

Wellness is love. It’s about loving yourself, loving the earth, loving your family and friends. If you love someone, you will do try to do what’s best for them, which includes sharing knowledge and trying to set an example.  

What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?

One of my favorite things to do is walking. I started hiking when I moved to LA in 1995. A friend invited me to join a group that hiked the Santa Monica Mountains every Saturday morning, and that lasted 20 years. During the pandemic, instead of eating bon bons on the couch, I’m proud to say I hiked/walked a minimum of three miles a day. On normal weeks, I hit the local trails at least twice, and a neighbor and I do an after-dinner walk with our pooches about three times a week. I also joined a gym when I moved to LA and made it a habit to attend two stretch classes a week that combined yoga, Pilates, and often weight training. I haven’t rejoined the gym since the shut-down. Instead, I swim, hike, try to do a 15-minute online daily stretch session daily. If the morning gets away from me, I do a quick stretch before bed. 

Another way to stay healthy: Have animals in your life. Besides mandatory walks, my two pups give me so much love every time they look at me, not to mention their furry cuddles whenever they get near me. Who can argue with that kind of irresistible oxytocin?  

Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?  

As predictable as it may be—because it’s the fastest growing sport in the U.S.—over the past year, I’ve fallen in love with pickleball! It could be because when I was in school, girls weren’t encouraged to get involved in team sports. Maybe intramural volleyball during lunch, but that was it. I cannot believe the camaraderie—the mind games you play with yourself before a serve, what you learn about your fellow players, the improvement you can make in a short time, and how much fun it really is. Another thing I’ve noticed is that players range in age from 35 to 70. The people I play with every week seem rather ageless, precisely because of making time for sports in their lives. Many have played team sports, but they all seem so happy to participate in each other’s progress. I’m addicted to pickleball. In fact, I’ve declined many Zoom meeting time suggestions in lieu of planned pickleball games. 

What is your favorite healthy food, and do you have a favorite way of preparing it? 

My husband went plant based after seeing his spare tire in a video of him riding a camel in Petra last year, so it’s been fun following Dan Buettner’s advice and looking for ways to incorporate more beans and lentils into our diet. And it’s also delicious! My favorite new recipe is red lentil cacciatore – rich w/ carrots, red pepper, tons of fresh garlic, capers, fresh rosemary, tomatoes and, of course, red lentils. I dare any meat lover or fan of stew to try it. You can feel your cells glowing afterwards! (Find it on my favorite source for recipes: The New York Times cooking app.) 

What is your favorite healthy beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and do you have any insider tips for preparing it?

I love wine. Lately, I’m obsessed with canned bubbly rose. (I know silly of me.) But my true love is cabernet or red zinfandel. Happily for me, red wine has antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory, and as Paul told Timothy in the Bible: In moderation, it’s good for your constitution. Bubbly water is my go-to otherwise. After doing a cleanse last year, I am warming up to the idea that a protein drink in the morning will not make me fat but instead help me stay toned and lean.  

What is your greatest wellness achievement?

It would have to be coming up with the idea of doing a podcast for the Global Wellness Summit and Institute and executive producing and hosting it for the past four years, watching its audience grow around the world. Although I have always worked in communications and been a storyteller, I had absolutely no experience in podcasting, but I felt “belly sure” that I should bring this kind of podcast to fruition. During this stage of my life, having accumulated nearly three decades of experience in the wellness space, it is the exact right time to do it. 

Looking back, I’m amazed at how it unfolded. In 2018, we visited the breathtaking Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, Italy, after the Global Wellness Summit at Technogym Village. The spa director encouraged me to meet with Lucca, their limbic system expert. I had no idea what to expect, but the first thing Lucca asked me to do was smell eight essential oils and tell him what each one smelled like. I knew enough about sensory treatments to just go with the first thought that came to my head for each. He then proceeded to translate the descriptions of those smells into the next phase of my career. “You are bored with what you’ve done,” he said. “It’s time for you to—like Prometheus with the spear—take your message of wellness to the top of the mountain for the world to hear.” I asked how that was going to happen, and he simply tapped his fingers on the table and said, “It’s just waiting there for you to do it. It’s ready to go.” Who knew that a year later the idea for a worldwide platform for approachable conversations about wellness would be born? 

What person in wellness do you most admire and why?  

There are far too many to choose just one, and with the podcast, I get to know so many leaders in the space. But most recently, Sophie Howe, the world’s first minister of the future from Wales really stands out to me. She started in a governmental position at age 21. She was a police chief, she has five children, she has worked to address the root causes of problems like domestic abuse and environmental issues at a community level, and she inhabited a governmental position for one of the smallest countries in the world, one that is now influencing other countries and even the United Nations. 

What is the best piece of wellness advice you have ever received and from whom?  

I was a chubby gal from the Midwest, and my family’s hobby was sitting—sit in the living room, sit in the kitchen, sit on the porch and watch the traffic go by, and if it really got exciting, you went to sit at the neighbors. Deborah Szekely hired me for my second job in the wellness industry doing public relations for Rancho La Puerta and The Golden Door. It became clear that the simple basics of her philosophy were, “Drink water and walk to keep your chi moving!” Other things could be done, but if that foundation remained, you would be alright. It changed my life, and as an added bonus, I went down three dress sizes. I’ve held onto and practiced that philosophy ever since, and funnily enough, my dress size has never changed again. 

What is your idea of balanced healthy happiness? 

Great friends; fulfilling your passion; always, always being curious, constantly learning; keeping movement in your life; keeping spirituality at your core; making travel for discovery a priority and hanging out with people of all ages and cultures.  

What do you think is the most overused word or words in wellness? 

Wellness and wellbeing 

Do you have a secret health or wellness tip you would like to share?  

It’s not a secret—it’s just so simple and effective. I learned it at Well Defined’s Women in Leadership Summit a few years back. Nutritionist and best-selling author Kimberly Snyder spoke and convinced the audience that one new habit would help change their microbiome for the better. She recommended that every morning they take the time to squeeze a piece of fresh lemon in hot water and drink it before their morning coffee. Since I was a baby, I’ve had sluggish digestion, and this simple new wellness habit has absolutely changed my life! 

What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape? 

I think the most bang for your buck comes from a hot springs vacation. We work with The Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs, CO, where the world’s deepest geothermal spring feeds 25 soaking pools terraced along the San Juan River.  But the more I find out about hot springs around the world—from onsens in Japan to entire European cities built around a spring or the destination hot springs resorts with live music and mud baths in Australia—it makes me want to experience Mother Nature’s warm embrace by taking a hot springs tour around the world. The benefits, like mineralization, detoxing, lymphatic stimulation, and more, always seem to outnumber the cost. And it seems like so many are going beyond their rustic origins and really upping their hospitality and wellness offerings. I’ve honestly never felt or slept better than when I’m at a hot springs. 

What aspect of your wellbeing do you struggle with the most, or would most like to improve?

Doing weight-bearing exercises. It is so uber important, but it bores me to tears. Just going into the gym and doing reps or pulls on repeat makes me want to cry. I do believe I should stick to my yoga planks and savasanas.

How do you celebrate small victories?  

I share the story with others via a funny or ironic anecdote during a hike or over a glass of wine, or both.  

What brings you joy?

Kids, animals, friends, nature, faith, work, and clients who I love. 

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.