South Beach rollerbladers notwithstanding, Miami is known more for its Latin rhythms than its lymphatic facials. Yet The Standard Spa Miami Beach has established itself as a bastion of wellness and relaxation in the midst of this hard partying metropolis. The retreat’s Spa Director, Mina Gough, brings her own relationship to health and fitness to the massage table. Here, the wellness expert dishes about how, post-skiing accident, she discovered meditation, individualization and a holistic approach to health and pampering.
Live The Process: What's your wellness story?
Mina Gough: I grew up in Stockholm, Sweden on the water, so that’s part of my DNA. My family always embraced a wellness and fitness-based lifestyle. Spa, health and travel have always been part of my work too. I love to share what I love, so I love working in the industry. It’s always been a natural fit for me.
Before coming to The Standard Miami Beach in 2009, I worked for Lindblad Expeditions, creating spa and travel concepts for their National Geographic adventure cruises and land programs. The idea was to incorporate nature into feeling good through exercise, nutrition and wellness. Then I’d design spa treatments to tie it all together. I would hire and design the staff and team to execute these transformative experiences in destinations from the Galapagos to Egypt.
I also lived in New York City, working as a consultant for spa or fitness facility openings at hotels or buildings, creating rituals and bath house concepts, among other things.
Now that the years have gone by, I see that the experiences have all kind of tied together; they have the same feel and integrity.
LTP: We're all seduced by the dark side sometimes: What's your biggest obstacle or temptation in staying healthy and maintaining your wellness path?
MG: I think it’s always exploring new things. Being in the industry, one week I get really excited about testing new juices or a new form of Pilates or new body treatments. The next week, it’s something else. The minute I’m totally obsessed with spinning, for example, I find something else that catches my eye and try the next thing. When it comes to achieving fitness, it’s [best to] create a routine that’s consistent and ongoing.
LTP: What tips would you offer people who aspire to live fuller, more holistic lives?
MG: Often people I meet are looking to relax or start a new lifestyle habit, whether it’s meditating or starting a yoga practice or really taking time for themselves. [The key] is finding ways to fit those elements into their lives in a way that suits them specifically, making it fun, playful, interactive and social. There’s not a one size fits all solution.
When possible, do [these activities] with your friends. At The Standard, we actually offer group meditations and acupuncture events.
Also, choose things you can do on the run from work or en route to dinner, that you can incorporate into everyday life instead of only in the mornings before you get dressed.
Be active in manifesting the things in your life that make you happy. The more you focus on the things you love, the more they grow.
LTP: What inspired you to change the way you live your life?
MG: I came from a sports background. I was fortunate to always be out in nature and around healthy foods. For me, becoming healthy was about adding the other components like transformative treatments, yoga and meditation. I think the shift was more about personal growth.
At one point, I had a really bad skiing accident with surgery and so forth and I realized, based on my own recovery, what it’s like to start new at something. It takes a certain shift [of perspective] and focus. That got me attracted to things that I hadn’t tried like nutrition, life coaching, Pilates and meditation.
There’s a beautiful silver lining when you have a turning point and find more balance. It gives you that empathy, for me about how much of a hurdle it can be to try new things.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
MG: For me, happiness is to have an awareness that extends beyond myself, to have gratitude and love. [Happiness is] to be open to all opportunities going forward, to be able to cherish what’s around us on a deeper level.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process" and how do you do that everyday?
MG: My quest has always been to live what I love. You share the things that you love through every part of the process—in your work, in the musings that you build into your life. You live what you love.