09: Susie Ellis: Empowering Wellness World Wide

Susie Ellis grew up with an interest in health and wellness. As a gymnast, it was a regular part of her life. She’s built a career focused on helping others take care of themselves“I feel I have been called to help empower wellness worldwide,” says Ellis “and I’ve been doing that for four decades – even though that’s not what we called it at the time. People are recognizing the importance of their own personal health.”

Ellis is the chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), and leads the organization’s annual Global Wellness Summit. She also spearheaded the GWI initiative, WellnessEvidence.com, the first online portal that provides easy access to the universe of medical evidence that exists for the most common wellness approaches.

While she has made huge contributions to the field of wellness, her career in the field came about almost by accident. As a student at the University of Illinois, she was required to complete an internship before graduating. She headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico and secured work at Tom Young’s Health Spa.

“The reason I went to Albuquerque, and I would say this is very typical for young people, it had to do with a boyfriend. At that time, I wasn’t making a career decision, I was making a decision to be closer to this boyfriend.” Ellis recognized immediately that the spa industry was the right fit. “I decided ‘I like this!’ People were coming in and working out, and losing weight, and getting healthier.”

She went on to work at the famous Golden Door health spa under the direction of the spa’s founder, Deborah Szekely.

“I felt like I was home. It was a lot about health and fitness, but it was also about beauty and mental health,” says Ellis. “I worked there for many years, and Deborah Szekely became my mentor, and to this day, we’re still friends. She was considered the godmother of the spa industry and she’s often said that I’ve become the godmother of the wellness industry. The baton of spa to wellness, we’ve sort of passed that between us.”

A shift from spa to wellness

Wellness took over where the spa industry left off – making it more accessible to everyone. Although the public recognized the benefits offered by the wellness community, the medical community was less enthusiastic.

“When we first started in the 70s, the dream was that the medical world and spa world would come together and hold hands and work together – but that was not happening,” says Ellis. Instead the medical world was skeptical. “When they looked at what we were doing, they were not really fans.”

Susie has seen a shift in attitudes, which became obvious when she received a call from the Mayo Clinic expressing an interest in attending the Global Wellness Summit. Now, the medical world has embraced the preventative benefits of wellness. Wellness is widely accepted as a path to good health.

Tune in to the 40-minute podcast, to learn more about Ellis’ journey including

  • Getting a call from the Vatican and working with the pope on his new vision for health
  • Understanding the difference between well-being and wellness  
  • The progress that’s been made in the medical field
  • Insight into Global Wellness Summit

Be sure to follow Susie Ellis on LinkedIn and learn more about the Global Wellness Institute and Global Wellness Summit here. You can also contact her at susie@globalwellnesssummit.com

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