I’m so honored to contribute to mindbodygreen as a writer and teacher, and I’m happy to introduce the couple behind the popular health and wellness site. Jason Wachob founded mbg when a back injury led him to yoga and sparked a passion for wellness. A few years later, his wife Colleen Wachob joined the company full time as its chief brand officer. I recently chatted with Jason and Colleen about what it’s like to work with your partner, their workout routines, and the trends they’re seeing on the health-and-wellness horizon.
Sadie Lincoln: What drove you to start mindbodygreen?
Jason Wachob: I played college basketball at Columbia, where in the off-season I did weight training and cardio for an hour a day. I stuck with this routine until I was 35. I used to think that if you were fit you were healthy, but I’ve since come to believe that health is more nuanced than that.
In my mid-thirties (I’m 41 now), I was running a company and trying to raise capital when I discovered I had two extruded discs in my lower back pressing on my sciatic nerve. I could barely walk and almost had back surgery. Looking back, it was probably related to stress combined with the fact that I was flying over 100,000 miles a year. Being 6’7″ and scrunched into airline seats didn’t help.
One doctor offhandedly mentioned that yoga might be a way to avoid surgery. I started practicing daily, and was very surprised that I loved it. From there, I got interested in a more holistic lifestyle. I ate organic and ditched toxic household products. I began to meditate. I started a gratitude practice. And after just a few months, I completely healed my back—without surgery.
It was a real awakening for me. I realized that health wasn’t about weight loss or looking good—it was a blend of how we treated our minds, bodies, and the environment. It was also the inspiration for starting mindbodygreen.
Colleen, in Jason’s book, Wellth (which I loved!), he talks about your accomplished career prior to joining him full time at mbg. When did you decide to go all in?
Colleen Wachob: I didn’t join mbg full time until 2013, when we were just starting to monetize the business. I had a full-time job (and salary and benefits) when Jason was starting mbg, which enabled mbg to grow slowly and methodically. I helped out at night and on the weekends, but gradually easing into being full time at mbg made the already stressful early stages of starting a company much more manageable, since one of us had a stable paycheck and benefits.
As business partners who are married, what are your strategies for maintaining work-life balance? What’s the best part about working together? What’s challenging?
Jason: It’s difficult! We are both so passionate about wellness that work and life tend to blend into one. Some of our best friends are also people who write for the site or are our business partners. I think when this happens and you’re able to share such a deep passion with your spouse as well as close friends, life and work can be pretty amazing. BUT, we have to consciously find time to disconnect and not talk about work! Shiatsu a few times a month is something that I love and definitely helps me disconnect.
Colleen: The best part is that we get to spend a lot of time together. We are often able to travel together for business, which makes being away from home more manageable and sometimes even fun. We travel a lot, which means that we get to keep up with our friends and members of the mbg community who are in the midwest or on the west coast.
What’s challenging is that it can really difficult to turn off work. There’s so much overlap between our work life and our personal life that we are always working in some capacity.
The most effective ways for me to turn off are acupuncture at Element Healing, walking or running along Brooklyn Bridge Park, and diving into novels that are totally outside of the wellness world and can get the creativity flowing more than non-fiction reads. I’ve recently read Sweetbitter and Modern Lovers, which were both great.
Jason, you talk about your meditation practice in your book, Wellth. How has cultivating a mindfulness practice helped you? Do you have any advice for people who are new to meditation?
Jason: I literally feel like a mental fog lifts from my brain after each meditation session. I feel more relaxed. I’m calmer. I’m more in tune with my inner sense of knowing than ever before. I experience more coincidences. I also feel more intensely. If I’m happy, I feel almost ecstatic, or if I’m eating one of my favorite dishes, it seems to taste even better than I remembered.
Since I got serious about maintaining a daily meditation practice, it’s as if my life went from experiencing it through a black-and-white TV to HDTV with satellite—sharper, with color, and more channels! It’s my new favorite tool in my ever-growing health and happiness tool kit, and it’s something I hope everyone tries.
What is the most important quality of a leader?
Jason: Someone who leads by example.
Colleen: Passion for the mission is key, and someone who has a strong work ethic, takes ownership, and is a team player.
What’s your favorite way to exercise? Any tips for busy people who struggle to stick with their workouts?
Jason: Yoga! I practice at home every weekend. I love a relaxing 15-20 minute Vinyasa flow. Recently I’ve gone back to the bodyweight basics. I’ll do push-ups to failure, combined with dips and situps a few times a week. It takes me less than 10 minutes and seems to do the trick.
If you’re struggling, just pick something that you love to do and that you can commit to. This will make it easier to stick with. The best exercise is the one you actually do!
Colleen: I’m more of a fitness omnivore in that I love trying new things. I tend to always go back to my staples, which are running, yoga, and going on long walks in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Where are your favorite places to eat in NYC?
Jason: I love the Australian invasion that’s happening right now: Two Hands, Bluestone Lane, Sweatshop, and Five Leaves are all delicious and healthy. I also love Gran Electrica in Dumbo and their delicious ramp quesadilla.
What are you working on right now that you’re most excited about?
Jason: Our invite-only revitalize event, which will take place September 16-18 in Arizona!
Colleen: Ditto that!
What are the top three wellness trends today? What are your predictions for top wellness trends in 2017?
Jason: Just three? There are lots of exciting trends to watch today that will roll into 2017. I actually wrote a piece about trends to watch in 2016 about six months ago.
But if i had to watch just three, i think athleisure is going through an interesting change right now. Wellness centers are cropping up everywhere. And nitro coffee is interesting—Starbucks just made an announcement there.
Colleen: here are so many exciting trends in the wellness world. I’m excited about how natural beauty products have moved to the mainstream, with stores like Target carrying many great brands like W3ll People and S.W. Basics. I think we are going to see more Traditional Chinese Medicine practices, like cupping, incorporated into natural beauty routines. I’m excited to see more healing herbs, adaptogens, and Ayurveda being incorporated into beauty and wellness too.
From a food-trends perspective, we are going to see more food innovators using what has typically been considered food waste (avocado pits, leaves and stems from broccoli,and the whole fennel) as part of the meal. And who couldn’t be excited about aquafaba going mainstream?
Is mindbodygreen on your list of favorite sites? What articles and courses have inspired you? Tell us in the comments! And if you’re not already a fan of mbg, check it out.