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The Rio Way

A new lifestyle approach to take the stigma out of holistic wellbeing
The Rio way, La Rio Cabriel

This article first appeared in our Earth Day issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 22 April 2024. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

When Alfie Ruffell’s father was diagnosed with a critical illness and traditional pharmaceutical options offered little hope, he turned to a natural alternative wellness plan.

Watching his dad’s remarkable recovery over the following five years ignited a passion to help others facing similar challenges.

‘I’ve always had an interest in health and wellbeing, but it became my driving passion after witnessing the transformative impact on my father’s life’, Alfie shares. ‘I set up Rio-Vitalise to provide holistic wellness solutions to individuals like my father, to foster vitality and resilience.’

A generation under pressure

For Alfie, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing are intimately connected – and under mounting pressure on all fronts.

In 2023, NHS England spent £217.5 million on medication to treat depression and anxiety, yet rising challenges – ranging from global conflicts and the climate crisis to the cost of living – continue to create new pressures and strains that require action at a deeper level.

‘In today’s tumultuous world, the need for authentic wellness and mental health support has never been more critical’, Alfie tells us. He has tragically seen this firsthand among people in his communities and networks.

‘My hometown, Portsmouth, has experienced a concerning rise in young male suicides, reflecting broader mental health struggles’, Alfie shares. ‘Individuals frequently reach out seeking wellness guidance, emphasising the pressing need for holistic support systems.’

A new wellness paradigm

Alfie feels the traditional wellness industry often prioritises profit over genuine healing, and relies heavily on pharmaceuticals and corporate interests.

He devised ‘The Rio Way’ as an alternative, holistic route to wellness that could redefine how society approaches personal and global wellbeing – and create a healthier, harmonious planet for us all.

The goal at Rio-Vitalise is to shift today’s wellness paradigm by empowering individuals to prevent and manage illness naturally, addressing root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.

‘The mission is to inspire, educate and motivate people on the path to wellness by offering products, tools, resources and experiences that foster mental, physical and spiritual harmony’, Alfie explains. ‘We’re promoting natural alternative medicines and therapies to help everyone embrace a balanced and healthy lifestyle.’

Skills for life

Rio-Vitalise is situated on the Valle del Cabriel Biosphere Reserve in Spain and named after La Rio Cabriel, the river that feeds all the natural and organic crops that go into its wellness products.

The business also operates in the USA and Uruguay, and Alfie is in the process of constructing wellness retreats at each location using eco-friendly materials like hemp and solar energy solutions.

Environmental sensitivity aligns with the holistic vision of ensuring all practices contribute positively to both personal and planetary health.

The retreats themselves will provide a broad menu of wellness experiences, ranging from meditation and boxercise classes to transformative learning and innovative psychedelic-assisted therapy programmes designed to address deep seated traumas.

‘What sets us apart is our holistic approach; we cater to individuals seeking profound healing and personal growth’, Alfie says.

For Alfie the supreme approach to wellness – ‘The Rio Way’ – means embracing a healthy, balanced lifestyle where equilibrium reigns supreme.

It’s about finding harmony in all aspects of life, and recognising that true wellbeing comes from nurturing both body and mind.

‘We encourage individuals to enjoy life’s pleasures while remaining steadfast in their commitment to self-care and wellness’, Alfie says.

But what does this look like at a practical level?

Wellness 101

For Alfie a healthy, balanced lifestyle involves regular exercise, a nutritious diet, inspiring content, social connections, a consistent sleep routine and practising mindfulness techniques such as meditation and breathwork.

This all sounds lovely, but is it only realistic to live like this if we drop out of society, leave responsibilities behind and go on retreat?

‘No, absolutely not’, Alfie assures us. ‘While retreats offer valuable teachings and immersive experiences, it’s entirely possible to cultivate a healthy lifestyle within the fabric of everyday society. Our retreats serve as catalysts for transformation, equipping guests with practical skills they can integrate seamlessly into their daily lives. They are designed to empower individuals with tangible tools and techniques that transcend the retreat experience, enhancing their wellbeing in all facets of life – including work, home and relationships.’

When it comes to practical tips, one quick win Alfie recommends is curating your social media environment.

‘Take a month to unfollow accounts that do not inspire or motivate you, even if they’re friends’, he advises. ‘Then, select individuals and content that uplift, educate and motivate you towards positive action and growth. This small adjustment can have a significant impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing.’

Destigmastising mindfulness

Lifestyle advice around digital content reflects Alfie’s determination to bring wellness to new audiences – arguably where it’s needed most.

‘Our aim is to destigmatise wellness retreats and make them accessible to a wider audience’, he shares. ‘By offering holistic approaches to healing, we hope to transform the perception of these retreats from exclusive getaways to inclusive spaces for genuine healing and growth.’

Alfie is determined to dispel the myths, stigma, misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding mindfulness, and plans to use education, media and influencer marketing to demonstrate the accessibility and efficacy of mindfulness practices when it comes to improving mental wellbeing.

‘Our connections within the hip-hop and urban communities offer a unique opportunity to challenge the stigma surrounding mindfulness’, Alfie says. ‘Artists, often hailed as cultural influencers, serve as relatable figures who have emerged from similar backgrounds as many of their fans. By leveraging these connections, we aim to engage our audience authentically, demonstrating that mindfulness is not only relevant but essential for holistic wellbeing.’

Rio-Vitalise has also partnered with spiritual leader Michel Pascal, whose profound expertise in mindfulness have demonstrated remarkable results – including reducing suicide rates in prisons.

‘His involvement lets us integrate proven mindfulness techniques into our programmes’, Alfie explains, ‘making them accessible to a broader audience.’

Screen-ready wellbeing

Operating across three continents offers Rio-Vitalise a unique advantage when it comes to connecting with the diverse global audience Alfie is determined to reach.

Recognising the power of storytelling, Alfie made the decision to document the Rio-Vitalise journey for an upcoming TV series in the hope of inspiring others to embrace wellness and live ‘The Rio Way’.

‘Through compelling content, we aspire to foster a community of like-minded individuals committed to prioritising their health and happiness’, he says.

A wellbeing movement

Rio-Vitalise is more than just a business; it’s a community-led wellbeing movement that welcomes individuals from all walks of life to become part of its growth story, facing challenges and celebrating triumphs together as a community.

‘We want to redefine wellbeing and create a world where everyone can thrive’, Alfie explains. ‘Personal wellness and global responsibility are interconnected. By prioritising our wellbeing, we become better equipped to contribute positively to broader societal and environmental challenges. It’s a symbiotic relationship, wherein individual empowerment fuels collective progress.’

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