I got lucky. Then I got super-lucky. I heard about the Clinton “Health Matters” Conference scheduled just prior to the Bob Hope Classic Golf Tournament (now called the Humana Challenge Golf Tournament) that was going to be taking place in Indian Wells, CA just a week before it was actually going to happen. Then I found out they were only giving out 200 tickets – yikes. Through a flurry of emails and phone calls, I was lucky enough to be able to attain one. Actually, it was two; I ended up attending with Deborah Szekely, founder of Rancho La Puerta and the Golden Door – my mentor and, in recent years, a very close friend. So we went together.
Oh yes, I should mention right up front, we did have a chance to chat with Clinton at the end of the day. Deborah gave him one of her Rancho La Puerta cookbooks which he loved, and I told him something that he could add to his story: that Bob Hope walked an hour a day and lived to be a 100. (Bob Hope also had a massage every day!)
There we were – Deborah almost 90 and the “godmother of the modern spa industry” – and me, feeling fortunate to have been part of the industry she ushered in for the past three decades. Both of us noticed that it wasn’t super well organized (they served a nice healthy buffet breakfast with fruit, eggs and such but provided exactly three tables with four chairs each to sit down). Very odd. However, we gave them a pass because it was their first health conference – a somewhat last minute idea I believe. Kudos for hosting the event however. They pulled in a slew of VIP’s:
- President Bill Clinton – personal health crisis, now vegan, has lost 20 lbs
- Chelsea Clinton – focus is childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes
- Dr. Nancy Snyderman – Today Show’s medical expert
- Jillian Michaels – former Biggest Loser drill sergeant
- David Satcher – former U.S. Surgeon General
- Billy Jean King – tennis legend
- Goldie Hawn – actress and advocate for Brain Health
- Notah Begay III – first Native American golfer to win a PGA title
- Dick Gephardt – Former House Democratic leader
- Reed Alexander – teenager and star of Nickelodeon’s iCarly
- Susan Dell – wellness advocate and “super-mom”
The audience that Deborah and I were a part of, which included Donna Karan and singer Barbara Streisand, was a very mixed bag: national school lunch program administrators, advocates for physical education in schools, non-profit organizations, medical folks from nearby hospital facilities, and sponsors such as Humana - a very large insurance company. What we all had in common was an understanding that there is a health crisis in the U.S. and that it is going to take involvement from a broad spectrum of people to affect the changes needed. The time to help people make lasting healthy lifestyle changes and spread the message of prevention (the one thing everyone seems to agree on as a solution) is NOW.
If you want to get an idea (well, actually more than an idea) of what took place at the conference, have a quick read through my twitter notes below. I tried to include the key points (keeping it short) from various speakers but throw in an occasional personal comment to keep people (and myself) awake. At the end I share five things I think the spa industry might consider as a result of what I learned at this one day conference.
Conclusions for our spa and wellness industry