Nowadays, many people don’t only go see a doctor when they’re sick. In addition to traditional medicine, they also seek complementary remedies.
This hasn’t always been the case. When Jeannette Savard started the Wellness Show in Vancouver in 1992, visiting a naturopath or a chiropractor wasn’t common. She recalls that a lot of people didn’t believe in alternative cures.
“They thought it was more, what I would say, woo-woo,” Savard told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
Although a number of people were leery of these therapies, Savard said, there was a budding interest in holistic health practices and products at the time, so much so that when the Wellness Show entered its second year, the trade show almost doubled in size. It had debuted with 65 exhibitors in a small hall at the then Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The Wellness Show has since grown to become the biggest healthy-living trade show in Western Canada. For a quarter-century, the exhibition has provided people the opportunity to learn about ways to live a well-balanced life through proper nutrition, exercise, and emotional comfort.
“I can’t believe 25 years have gone by so quickly,” Savard said. “And I’m still very excited about the show and bringing information to the public about wellness, and, you know, I learn something every year as well.”
According to Savard, the Wellness Show has evolved through the years. Citing just one example, she recalled that in its first year, the trade show had a fitness stage that featured high-impact exercises.
From jumping up and down 25 years ago, this year’s Wellness Show stage for fitness will be mainly about meditation and yoga. In this digital age, when many are wedded to their phones and the Internet, Savard said, it’s important to disconnect and “be very mindful about the present and now” through meditation.
“We live such fast, busy lives that we really need time to connect in a different way with ourselves and others,” she said.
Savard recalled that when she started the Wellness Show, yoga was not popular.
“Back then, it wasn’t even discussed. You know, friends get together, you go to a gym or you go for a run or you go for a walk, but you wouldn’t talk about going to a yoga class.”
This year’s Wellness Show, which runs from March 3 to 5 at the West Building of the Vancouver Convention Centre, has a new feature: an activity area for children.
“Again going back to the digital age, kids aren’t out playing and running around like we did,” Savard said.
A Wellness Show feature that has been well liked since the start is the cooking demonstrations, according to Savard. This year, celebrity chefs like Hidekazu Tojo, executive chef and owner of Tojo’s Restaurant in Vancouver, will take to the cooking stage.
Savard also related that over the years, she has seen more people use berries, seeds, and other nutrient-packed foods in their diet: “Superfoods have gone a long way. It used to just be vitamins, but now you’re looking at incorporating a lot of those health supplements in your smoothies.”
More than 250 exhibitors are presenting in the Wellness Show. Many have been with the trade show for many years.
Jassal Chiropractic is a returning exhibitor. The Vancouver chiropractic clinic is marking its 10th anniversary this year, which coincides with its decade-long participation in the show. Founder Avtar Jassal recalled that he opened his clinic in 2007, a day after he presented at the Wellness Show.
“What I see at the Wellness Show is that more and more people are looking for alternatives to drugs and surgery,” Jassal told the Straight in a phone interview.
When people visit the Jassal Chiropractic booth, they can learn about what’s happening with their spine and nervous system through tests on-site.
“The goal of chiropractic care is to see how the spine is affecting the nervous system,” Jassal explained. “It’s the nervous system that controls and coordinates the function of every cell in the body. If the spine is affecting the nervous system, it affects the body as well.”
Bremner Foods Ltd., a farm and natural-juice producer in Delta, has been with the show for 17 years.
Much like Jassal Chiropractic, Bremner Foods got its start in the Wellness Show, selling its first premium blueberry juice at the trade show. That got the company introduced to grocery stores, and Bremner now has different juice lines as well as frozen and dried fruits.
Wellness has always been a personal interest for trade show founder Savard. She had previously done promotions work with different events, and one day she thought it would be great to bring information to the public about holistic health.
As a mother, Savard said, having the show allowed her to better help her children lead healthy lives. “Part of it is my own journey in trying to maintain a well-balanced life,” she added.
With the Wellness Show going strong after 25 years, Savard said that she certainly would like to continue on.