NYC's Top Wellness Gurus Share Their Secrets To Success

Phebe Wahl | April 14, 2021 | Lifestyle Feature

Health is the new wealth as more and more people focus on what matters most. We polled NYC’s top experts for an inside look at how they stay in top form.

Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, founder of Melissa Wood Health PHOTO BY JEFF THIBODEAU/COURTESY OF MELISSA WOOD HEALTH
Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, founder of Melissa Wood Health

LINDA ALIXE THOMPSON

Founder, Biography

LINDA ALIXE THOMPSON PHOTO BY AMY LOMBARD/COURTESY OF BIOGRAPHY

“Biography is a collection of active face oils designed for people who are beautiful because they are storied,” explains the buzzy brand’s founder, Linda Alixe Thompson.

“One of my favorite things to take on a daily basis are Seed probiotics because they help with digestion and microbiome health. A few other things I love are Hydrant hydration packets, WelleCo protein powder and Care Of vitamins,” says Biography founder Linda Alixe Thompson
“One of my favorite things to take on a daily basis are Seed probiotics because they help with digestion and microbiome health. A few other things I love are Hydrant hydration packets, WelleCo protein powder and Care Of vitamins,” says Biography founder Linda Alixe Thompson

“Each formula is an elixir made up of fewer, more potent, sustainably sourced ingredients of the highest quality,” she says. “Biography is more than a skincare ritual; it’s an essence and pause for those who live a daring life. I have always been interested in healthy living, fitness and skincare,” says the Harvard Business School grad who hails from the iconic Bronfman family. “I got a special introduction to face oils while living in Paris, working for Cartier. I was seeking a moisturizer for my skin parched by a frigid Paris winter, and I popped into a local French pharmacy. The pharmacist whipped me up an ampule of oils that proved to be better than any moisturizer I had previously used,” she says. “I set out to create oils of my own with potent ingredients from countries around the world.”


“I like to wear Alo leggings, Koral tops and Nike Metcon 3 sneakers
“I like to wear Alo leggings, Koral tops and Nike Metcon 3 sneakers"

Thompson says that her brand is all about focusing on people’s experiences and stories, rather than what they look like. “Our name, Biography, shows our commitment to celebrating all types of people’s stories,” she says. “We are no longer interested in the ‘youthful’ and ‘anti-aging’ promise and product offering. Of course we want to treat our skin with love and high-quality products, but we do not believe that narrative should be the focus in your life—you have way more interesting things to do! Taking the limelight away from those surface-level things opens the floor to create an inspiring brand and community that people want to be a part of.”

“I love fresh ginger tea with raw honey, Daily Harvest smoothies and Haus and Ghia cocktails/mixers for a healthier drink.”
“I love fresh ginger tea with raw honey, Daily Harvest smoothies and Haus and Ghia cocktails/mixers for a healthier drink.”

ERICA HUSS & ZOË SAKOUTIS

Founders, Earth & Star

earth and star founders

“Earth & Star is dedicated to delivering the incredible benefits of adaptogens to you as deliciously and conveniently as possible,” explains Erica Huss, who co-founded the wellness brand with Zoë Sakoutis. “Lion’s mane, chaga, reishi and cordyceps are adaptogenic mushrooms that provide powerful immune support, focus, calm and stamina when consumed regularly,” she says.

“Since quarantine began, I have used Peloton’s app at least four days a week—their barre andstrength classes are by far the most encouraging and enjoyable [compared to] so many other home workouts,” says Huss PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“Since quarantine began, I have used Peloton’s app at least four days a week—their barre and strength classes are by far the most encouraging and enjoyable [compared to] so many other home workouts,” says Huss.

“So we’ve elevated your ritual by adding these extracts to your favorite daily habit in our line of organic plant-based lattes, nitro cold brew and dark chocolate bars.”


“Apple cider vinegar tinctures like Digest Start from Nue Co. are great—this is a great primer for your tummy before a meal,” says Huss. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“Apple cider vinegar tinctures like Digest Start from Nue Co. are great—this is a great primer for your tummy before a meal,” says Huss.

You might recognize the power pair from their days as the founders of wellness industry game changer BluePrint Cleanse. “We go waaaaay back in the wellness world—before ‘wellness’ was a word!” shares Sakoutis. “We have both adhered to a plant-based diet and lifestyle for 20-plus years, after experimenting for ourselves to find out what worked for us to heal, recover and prevent illness. With our first company, BluePrint Cleanse, we essentially created the cold-pressed green juice category as you know it today because we wanted to share the incredible healing benefits of adding more plants to your diet as easily as possible. And now we’re doing the same for the fungi kingdom.”

“I cannot do without magnesium glycinate before bed—the benefits are endless (look it up!), but it’s great for troubled sleepers. And adaptogenic mushrooms. Every. Damn. Day,” says Sakoutis PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“I cannot do without magnesium glycinate before bed—the benefits are endless (look it up!), but it’s great for troubled sleepers. And adaptogenic mushrooms. Every. Damn. Day,” says Sakoutis.

And just like their perfect timing with the juice craze, mushrooms are certainly having a moment. “We’re thrilled that the functional mushroom category is just starting to work its way into mainstream culture—the benefits are immense, and there is really something for everyone. But we felt that the current landscape is full of products that are a hassle to use—messy powders, packets that require preparation, and even more pills to add into your daily routine. Plus, the end results are generally not that tasty,” says Huss. “You can only reap the benefits of functional mushrooms if you consume them regularly, so we needed to find a way to encourage a new habit.”

TARA CRUZ

Senior Director of Spa & Wellness, Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown

TARA CRUZ PHOTO BY JOE THOMAS/COURTESY OF FOUR SEASONS HOTEL NEW YORK DOWNTOWN

“We’ve developed integrative wellness programs designed mindfully and with clear intention,” explains Tara Cruz, senior director of spa and wellness at the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown. Cruz and her talented team developed a Resident Healer Program to offer bespoke wellness rituals that are tailored to each guest’s individual needs.

“My newest obsession is Omorovicza Peachy micellar cleansing pads, soaked in a natural micellar solution. In one sweep, each disc removes all impurities and makeup (including waterproof mascara, which saves time during my evening skincare rituals).” PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“My newest obsession is Omorovicza Peachy micellar cleansing pads, soaked in a natural micellar solution. In one sweep, each disc removes all impurities and makeup (including waterproof mascara, which saves time during my evening skincare rituals).”

“Our desire is to have guests depart our space with a greater sense of self-understanding or awareness,” she says. “Our Resident Healer Program is led by intuition and purposeful connection for those seeking change, transformation and insight. The program can be a very personal journey with the goal to cultivate a relationship with your highest, most vulnerable self.”

“The RE.LEASE silk sleep mask is craft ed from pure mulberry silk, which offers all the benefits of silk, and a virtually weightless insert infused with a blend of 16 powerful crystals to enhance your sleep naturally” PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“The RE.LEASE silk sleep mask is crafted from pure mulberry silk, which offers all the benefits of silk, and a virtually weightless insert infused with a blend of 16 powerful crystals to enhance your sleep naturally.”

Started in 2018 with three healers (Dr. Deganit Nuur, Snow Shimazu and Rashia Bell), the program has expanded to now include Michelle Pirret, Mama Medicine and the most recent additions of Rebecca Gordon and Nicole Hernandez. During the pandemic, the spa pivoted to offer Self- Healing Immersions as either at-home or in-room experiences. A sleep ritual includes several bespoke healing oils to support optimal sleep; a crystal eye sleep mask from RE.VITYL by Rashia Bell; audio meditation by Liza Colpa; virtual hypnosis by resident healer Nicole Hernandez; a Maison de Papillon silk pajama set; a Kin Euphorics nightcap; and an option to purchase a Four Seasons bedding and linen set.

“Pursoma Hot Tub is perfect for when you’re feeling run down from seasonal symptoms like runny nose, chest congestion, body aches and fatigue. There is something special about pouring this massive bag of salts and herbs into your tub” PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“Pursoma Hot Tub is perfect for when you’re feeling run down from seasonal symptoms like runny nose, chest congestion, body aches and fatigue. There is something special about pouring this massive bag of salts and herbs into your tub”.

With a deep emphasis on wellness education, the team also offers a variety of workshops for the small set ranging from crystal classes and mindfulness to malamaking.

“The Theragun mini is the most agile massage device that goes wherever you do—it lives in mysuitcase and workout bag, plus it’s super chic and easy to use.” PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“The Theragun mini is the most agile massage device that goes wherever you do—it lives in my suitcase and workout bag, plus it’s super chic and easy to use.”

“Next-gen wellness comes from the belief that if we start the next generation on a path of health and wellness when they’re young, it will set them up for success in the future,” says Cruz.

EMILY HOCHMAN

CEO & Founder, Wellory

EMILY HOCHMAN PHOTO COURTESY OF WELLORY

“Building Wellory came from personal experience,” explains the brand’s CEO and founder, Emily Hochman. “When I was in college, I was terrified of gaining the freshman 15,” she says. “So I did what mass media told me to do, and went on a diet (in fact, many diets!). Unfortunately, none of the diets I tried worked. Instead, I found nutrition to be my cure. When I shared my experience with family, friends and colleagues, I learned that everyone had their own relationship with food, too, and yet no one knew where to turn. I soon became obsessed with bringing healthy eating to the forefront of conversation and the forefront of our everyday lives.”

For skincare I love Drunk Elephant, Glossier and Odacité”; PRODUCT PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
"For skincare I love Drunk Elephant, Glossier and Odacité.”

Fast-forward to today, and Hochman is offering education and support through Wellory nutrition coaches, which includes certified health coaches, licensed nutritionists and registered dietitians. “It’s pretty simple: Diets don’t work; experts do,” she says. “We’re reinventing diet culture to prioritize what we put in our bodies instead of prioritizing the number on a scale. As a nation, we’re slowly moving away from the fast fixes and quick solutions and toward healthier lifestyles—and that’s where Wellory comes in.”

MELISSA WOOD HEALTH PHOTO BY JEFF THIBODEAU/COURTESY OF MELISSA WOOD HEALTH
"My workout is Melissa Wood Health.”

And Hochman’s goals extend way beyond mere waistlines. She hopes to significantly lower both the nation’s healthcare costs and the amount of people who get sick every single year from dietrelated disease—the number-one cause of mortality in the U.S. “By combining sciencebased evidence and behavioral psychology with human expertise and technology, we’re able to help people make real behavior change… we’re innovating on diet culture to help customers actually have a healthy relationship with food that lasts.”

JACKIE GOMEZ

Founder, Welleum

JACKIE GOMEZ PHOTO COURTESY OF JACKIE GOMEZ

“Eastern medicine suffers from bad marketing,” suggests Welleum founder Jackie Gomez. “No one has properly translated the practices into a way that Westerners can understand and deploy within the context of their modern lives,” she explains. “Unfortunately, this means that many aren’t utilizing options that could help them live happier and healthier. Both thousands of years of history and scientifically supported empirical evidence show that Eastern medicine can bring about great benefits for users, but many people aren’t aware of this.” Gomez offers a solution with Welleum. “We’re translating the practices into terms Westerners can understand and supporting with Western science so that we can inform and inspire people to try this in their lives.”

“I love my yoga wheel. I’ve been a yogi for a decade, and while I love the practice in its most pure form, theyoga wheel takes my practice to Cirque du Soleil levels” PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“I love my yoga wheel. I’ve been a yogi for a decade, and while I love the practice in its most pure form, the yoga wheel takes my practice to Cirque du Soleil levels.”

Gomez found her way to wellness through her own personal journey seeking a more balanced lifestyle as a stressed-out, working single parent. “Little by little, I learned that wellness was far more than being fit and eating well. It’s about keeping balance among your mind, body and spirit in an ever-changing world—a continual evolution and iterative adjustments.” Later, Gomez sought more holistic healing methods for her daughter’s Crohn’s disease and soon found the ancient traditions of Eastern medicine as the answer. “That experience really shaped my vision for Welleum to become the source of all things Eastern medicine,” she says. “We are on a mission to demystify the ancient practices for Westerners, prioritizing health and wellness in a proactive, natural, comprehensive way. They both inform and inspire Westerners to redefine wellness as a balanced, happy state of being in all aspects of life through incorporating Eastern medicine into everyday life."

“I’m a fan of the Girlfriend Collective. They’re fair-trade, making everything from recycled water bottles and, most importantly, their product is amazing.” PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“I’m a fan of the Girlfriend Collective. They’re fair-trade, making everything from recycled water bottles and, most importantly, their product is amazing.”

“Welleum is bringing Eastern medicine to the modern Western world,” explains Gomez. “Even before the global pandemic, the rise in everything from pollution and stress to chronic health conditions was motivating Westerners to search for ways to improve their health and alleviate their conditions,” she says. “With a shift toward preventative care, comprehensive wellness and natural options, Westerners are now looking for Eastern medicinal options, even if they don’t realize it. While Eastern medicine has been practiced for thousands of years by millions of people, the information gap fueled by language and cultural differences has deterred most Americans from finding useful Eastern medicine resources to help them on their journey. Welleum is filling this gap with research-based educational articles, relatable and inspirational content, and a highly curated marketplace of best-in-class products.”

TATA HARPER

Founder & CEO, Tata Harper

TATA HARPER PHOTO COURTESY OF TATA HARPER SKINCARE

“For us, sustainability isn’t about marketing; it’s just the way we’ve always done business,” explains beauty industry icon Tata Harper of her eponymous natural and sustainable skincare line.

sun potion high res

“I use the He Shou Wu rejuvenating tonic from Sun Potion. This is an herb that works to nourish the blood, hair, skin and nervous system—while also boosting my immune system and antioxidant activity.”

“You can’t be a green company without a green product, and that means everything from ingredients to manufacturing to packaging needs to take the planet into account.” While Harper applauds all efforts, she says the industry needs to think bigger when it comes to environmental responsibility.

modestahigh res

“I am a huge fan of Wolven, a sustainable and thoughtful athleticwear brand that creates clothing from postconsumer recycled plastic”

Harper’s journey to clean beauty came as the result of her stepfather’s cancer diagnosis. “I couldn’t find any natural products without synthetic chemicals that gave me the results and the luxury experience I was looking for. Looking behind the curtains of the products, I was disappointed to learn that many products used the same formulas, but the brands just added fillers to put their name on it. This inspired me to create my own line that was safe, natural and sustainable without compromising luxury and results.”

superkind mositurizer

“I believe that more is more when it comes to my skincare, and I use a multitude of our products every day, twice a day.”

Harper continues to set the standard with her new Super Kind collection developed for sensitive skin, launching this spring. ”We are always looking for the newest, innovative green technology out there and the most powerful ingredients available,” says Harper.

whey bath product

“I love to take daily baths at night... mixing a lot of magnesium baths with Susanne Kaufmann´s herbal whey bath and Kneipp herbal bath oils.”

“We’re going to continue to launch product refills, like our Water- Lock moisturizer that will reduce overall waste, so our clients can join the movement of living a more sustainable, waste-free life.”

MELISSA WOOD-TEPPERBERG

Founder & Creator, Melissa Wood Health

MELISSA WOOD - TEPPER BERG PHOTO BY MICHELLE ROSE SULCOV

“My interest in wellness was sparked, quite literally, when I got well,” shares Melissa Wood-Tepperberg. The model-turned-mommy mogul and mindful master says her wellness journey started when she acknowledged that she needed to make a lasting change rather than overly harsh diets or punishing workouts. “For the first time in my life, I felt good in my own skin, and I wanted to start sharing my story and the practice that got me here in the hope that I could help those going through the same struggles,” says the founder of Melissa Wood Health.

“These high-quality vitamin packets cover all your daily supplemental needs,” Wood-Tepperberg says of Sakara Rx The Foundation
“These high-quality vitamin packets cover all your daily supplemental needs,” Wood-Tepperberg says of Sakara Rx The Foundation.

“I went from being obsessive with my food, obsessive with my weight, obsessive with my workouts and just obsessive in general to letting go and listening to my body and what truly made me thrive. That to me is wellness— being in tune with yourself and what works best for you,” she says.

sedd symboinac
“Seed Synbiotic is a prebiotic and probiotic in one and amazing for gut health”

“The MWH Method—low-impact movements that have a big effect—was created during a time in my life (the birth of my son) when I realized slowing down was a strength. I believe in consistency and showing up for yourself every day, no matter what that looks like for you,” says Wood-Tepperberg, who just launched the workout-wherever MWH Prop Kit (which includes a 6-inch ball, 1-pound ankle weights and a band).

superfood cleanser

“Youth To The People superfood cleanser is very gentle but also removes all the makeup from the day beautifully”

“My practice goes so much deeper than just seeing results from a workout; it instills this lasting shift in your mind and how you move about your day. The idea is to move with more ease... taking the way you feel on your mat and bringing that forward into everything you do. That mental shift to me is what it’s all about.”


“Great to help you debloat,” she says of Arrae Bloat. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRANDS
“Great to help you debloat,” she says of Arrae Bloat.

KIM ROSS

Founder & CEO, ORA

KIM ROSS PHOTO BY PHOEBE CHEONG

“ORA is elevating acupuncture to be a routine luxury—no matter where you are in your healing journey,” says Kim Ross, the Noho-based brand’s founder and CEO. “We want to make the luxury of acupuncture and [traditional Chinese medicine] lifestyle accessible to everyone, and pre-pandemic, our lives and schedules were cluttered with seemingly no time to heal,” she explains.

chill house soho

“I’ve been loving Chillhouse’s clean nail polish, which is free of major toxins so I never feel guilty giving myself a manicure.”

After being diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes at a young age, Ross found relief in acupuncture and came up with the concept for ORA while at Harvard Business School.

campo diffuser

“I love the CAMPO diffuser. It satisfies two needs at once: aromatherapy benefits and acts as a chic desk accessory!”

“We’re innovating our industry by making this practice accessible to everyone. While we encourage those who have access to our space to come in for an acupuncture session, we realize that 2020 made people rely on alternative methods for balancing the body and maintaining a healthy qi, thus living an ‘acu-lifestyle’ beyond an acupuncture session,” she says. “We offer virtual sessions for acupressure, breathwork and more.” This summer, ORA will offer in-home treatments in the Hamptons.

hilma product

“I’m a big fan of Hilma. It’s female-founded, science-backed and uses natural ingredients.”

When asked how she hopes to bring about change, Ross’ answer is simple: “Two words: accessible healing.” Sounds like a positive prescription to us.

Melissa wood health

“Melissa Wood Health’s app is amazing. I love that her workouts can be done from anywhere—literally, she has posted workouts from behind her living room chair before.”



Photography by: FROM TOP: PHOTO BY JEFF THIBODEAU/COURTESY OF MELISSA WOOD HEALTH; LINDA ALIXE THOMPSON PHOTO BY AMY LOMBARD/COURTESY OF BIOGRAPHY; THOMPSON PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS; ERICA HUSS & ZOË SAKOUTIS PHOTO COURTESY OF EARTH & STAR; EARTH & STAR PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS; TARA CRUZ PHOTO BY JOE THOMAS/COURTESY OF FOUR SEASONS HOTEL NEW YORK DOWNTOWN; TARA CRUZ PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS; EMILY HOCHMAN PHOTO COURTESY OF WELLORY; MELISSA WOOD HEALTH PHOTO BY JEFF THIBODEAU/COURTESY OF MELISSA WOOD HEALTH; HOCHMAN PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS; JACKIE GOMEZ PHOTO COURTESY OF JACKIE GOMEZ; GOMEZ PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS; TATA HARPER PHOTO COURTESY OF TATA HARPER SKINCARE; HARPER PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS; MELISSA WOOD-TEPPERBERG PHOTO BY MICHELLE ROSE SULCOV; WOOD-TEPPERBERG PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS; KIM ROSS PHOTO BY PHOEBE CHEONG; ROSS PRODUCT PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDS

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