By Leslie Price
May 21, 2019 @ 11:30 am

When the Gwyneth Paltrow-founded wellness empire goop launched its first-ever “In goop Health” brand summit, the event was met with a mixture of curiosity and derision. USA Today described it as “half great and half cray,” while Food & Wine said, “the whole thing is just so Goopy, it feels almost like self-parody.”

But today, with more than six In goop Healths under her G. Label belt, it’s safe to say that Gwyneth was on to something. In goop Health is an indisputable success. The woo-woo event, which has showcased reiki healers, crystal therapy, aura photography, and more, consistently sells out, despite the high ticket prices ($1,000 for a day pass, $4,500 for a weekend-long VIP experience). The series has expanded from Los Angeles to New York City to Vancouver, and will launch in London at the end of June (tickets are on sale now).

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If you’ve never been to an event, it’s an intense, immersion-type experience. 12 hours straight of “wellness” is a lot, even for straight-up goop stans such as myself. The agenda typically includes multiple panels (some hosted by Gwyneth herself), various sessions and workshops, as well as a veritable buffet of alt offerings in the main hall. In addition to Gwyneth, other celebrities usually attend. At the recently held Los Angeles summit, Paltrow was joined by Busy Philipps, Jessica Alba, Taraji P. Henson, and Olivia Wilde. In New York City, Elle Macpherson, Demi Moore, and Ariana Huffington spoke. (Apple and her mother, Blythe Danner, were also in attendance but did not appear on any panels.)

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The summit is essentially an experiential wellness sampler pack. You pay a flat fee to attend, and can pick and choose what you engage with, whether you want to listen to panels populated by Gwyneth-approved gurus (many who have also appeared on the goop site or podcast) or participate in experiences led by Gwyneth-approved healers. The atmosphere cultivated inside its walls is one of a certain type of safety for a very specific type of person. You know that there will be plenty of fancy water (Tetra Pak cartons of Flow Alkaline Spring Water, one of Paltrow’s newest partnerships, were stocked in fridges around the New York City space), that the decor will be neutral and soothing, that there will be a variety of healthful food and little to no refined sugar. No money changes hands unless you want to buy something in the carefully curated shop filled with goop-approved beauty products and inspiring books by many of the day’s presenters.

In many ways, the conversation around wellness has moved forward since Gwyneth’s first-ever summit. B12 shots and ear seeds festooned with Swarovski crystals (a form of acupressure known as auriculotherapy) don’t seem quite so shocking anymore, even though both were administered in public at the New York City summit. Because why not pull down your pants and get a B12 shot in your behind in front of the many beautiful, leggings-wearing blonde women milling about? Why not eat another chia-pudding breakfast bowl? You’ve paid your admission, you’re there all day — might as well experiment.

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Included in the cost of attendance is a swag bag, and here the goop team goes all out. The one I walked out with in New York must have weighed at least 30 pounds, and was absolutely stuffed to the brim with natural beauty and home products including lip balms, mascaras, moisturizers, deodorants, and soaps.

Gwyneth is not for everyone. That we know. That is a truth that has been discussed to death. Gwyneth herself has had to explain, multiple times over, why she thinks she is not for everyone. In goop Health, and the entire goop empire, is also not for everyone. But for those who don’t balk at the ticket prices and who have a passing to strong interest in all things wellness, it’s an appealing proposition. What’s more, Gwyneth’s there in person, a glowing physical embodiment of all that she preaches. If it works for her, it’ll certainly work for you, right? And just like that, she's hooked you.

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