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Dwyane Wade on Being an “Aging Athlete,” Wellness and Keeping His Edge

Dwyane Wade on Being an “Aging Athlete,” Wellness and Keeping His Edge featured image
Thorne

Maybe it was written in the stars when Dwyane Wade was still perfecting his foul shot as a kid on the South Side of Chicago: Whether it was in sports or health and wellness, this was going to be a man with an advantage. “As an athlete, it was always about having an edge,” says the 41-year-old former professional basketball player—he’s also a philanthropist, entrepreneur and, to us beauty folks, the husband of Gabrielle Union—over Zoom to discuss his latest partnership with science-driven wellness company Thorne and its “Build to Last” campaign. “How can I become great? Get that edge! I still look for an edge even now. Sure, it may not be as sexy to say, ‘Hey, I take these supplements, and that is my edge.’ But that’s the truth and that’s what I’m doing.”

The world of wellness can be tricky, so can supplements. What made you decide to partner with Thorne?

It’s a good gang over there at Thorne. Look, at this point in my life, I’ve had a lot of partnerships and sponsorships over my 20 years in the game. Now that I’m older, I look for partnerships that are equal…because a lot of times, they are lopsided. Besides trying to build a business and all those things, since retiring, the most important thing to me is my damn health.

Since retiring, the most important thing to me is my damn health.

When you’re playing in the NBA for 16 years, you put your body through a lot. It takes a lot to get on that court every night. It’s a lot of pills, it’s a lot of shots, it’s a lot of things…and you can’t keep that up as you get older. It’s not healthy for your liver, it’s not healthy for your kidneys, and it’s not healthy for your bones and joints. And forget about trying to find the right information through it all.

A couple of years ago, Thorne became an option for my family. We started going down the journey of saying, “Let’s try this and see what it is all about.” I was always the person who looked at these brands and supplements and couldn’t commit. I can’t take all those pills. I’m pretty disciplined, but I can’t take all the things. Thorne made me realize, “If I take this pill, then I’m getting 28 pills in one.” You know what I mean? Simplicity. I just started to learn and ask myself: “What does my body need? What am I feeling? What do my joints and my bones need today?”

I’m an aging athlete, but I’m still an athlete.

And I take it they offer that?

They offer a lot, and they make it simple. My big thing is this: I’m an aging athlete, but I’m still an athlete. It’s who I am, and it’s incredibly important to me. I entered the partnership because it is authentic, and it was great timing for me. It also allowed my son [Wade’s son Zaire partnered with him on the campaign] and me to create something together and show men what’s important. It’s not our golf scores, it’s not all the other things we stress about. It’s how damn healthy we are, how long we’re going to be around, and understanding and knowing our bodies.”

What does wellness look like now, in your day-to-day?

Well, let’s take this morning. First move is I get up, I walk and I get a cup of coffee. I’m on the road right now at a conference, but it’s key for me to just get up and get going before the day really starts. Wellness definitely looks different to me since I retired. Do I train? Yes, I get my butt up and I work. Do I meditate? Damn right, I meditate! I need moments for myself. Sometimes, that involves just going outside, getting some air, walking, grabbing some coffee and walking back. And that is wellness.

Wellness can be a whole lot of things—whatever you need to feel like you’re going to perform your very best that day and make your life better overall. That’s what I look for; I’m just trying to be better every day. What’s my edge? As an athlete, it was always about having an edge. How can I become great? Get that edge! I still look for an edge even now. Sure, it may not be as sexy to say, “Hey, I take these supplements, and that is my edge.” But that’s the truth and that’s what I’m doing. It’s the thing that allows me to be better. Wellness can look any way that you want it to. It’s just about bettering yourself.

Have you always cared about self-care and wellness, or did you get more into it as you’ve gotten older?

Life isn’t about money or the final score—it’s about how healthy we are and how long we’re going to be around.

I’ve gotten smarter. And there’s more information being put out there every day. In my community, wellness isn’t really something we ever talked about. And we still don’t do a great job talking about our health in general. You just know that some things come up. Your mom, your auntie, or somebody got diabetes and now you know what it is. No one really gets into details about what they’re going through.

I have a great relationship with my father at this point in life. It’s so great. My father is 66 and we talk about prostate cancer. We talk about the process of what the doctors need to do to check for it and how they do it—it is amazing to be able to communicate like that. I didn’t have that in my 20s, but my son has that in me and my dad as well. It’s very important to really know all the ins and outs. A lot of us take care of the outside, but we don’t always take care of what’s inside, which isn’t great, because that’s what’s most important. That’s a big part of my journey now: How can I be as healthy as I can be and what does that look like for me?

Thorne

I know your family is a big part of everything you do. What does the world of self-care look like for both you and your wife?

Wellness is a lot of things, but it’s definitely something that makes the moments of your life better.

We do all of it! For the most part, I’m getting facials every two weeks; I’m getting a mani-pedi every two weeks. To me, self-care doesn’t create some kind of “stop” in who I am. It’s not like, “Oh, I can do one thing, but I shouldn’t do the other thing because that’s going to lead to this whole breakdown of what my masculinity is supposed to look like.” I’m O.K. with being very masculine in myself, but also wanting to feel good and look good. And I’m O.K. with doing that in any way that I want.

My wife and I share all of it—we get acupuncture, we do physical therapy work once a week, we get massages once a week. This is a lifestyle for us. My wife was the first one to use Thorne in our house. She is 50 years old, and she started looking for things a little earlier than I did to help her still be the beauty that she is. It takes more than just facials and it takes more than just working out. It takes a lot of what’s inside of you, because what’s inside of you is going to come out anyway. If it’s ugly, then we going to see that. It’s just been so important for us to be able to do it as a family. Like I said, now that my son is 21, we also have him on this journey. We have him talking to the doctors at Thorne asking, “What do you feel like your body needs? What can they help you with to give you an edge?” It’s a family journey.

What are you excited about as we close out July? Are you going to take any time off?

It’s a busy summer for me. I’m really excited to be able to experience something that I’ve worked my ass off for my whole life—getting inducted into the Hall of Fame with my family. That’s coming up in August, and I really need to start writing my speech; I have a pen in my hand right now, so let’s hope that’s the start. My wife and I are going to try to take a trip away. We always try to schedule a few days to reconnect—whether that means reconnecting with our family or reconnecting with our friends or reconnecting with each other. We would love to take a nice trip to Europe this summer if time allows. I’ve been to Africa this year; I’ve been to Paris, too. I try to go to these places to have these moments…and I try to go get cultured and I try to learn something new and different than what I’m used to. I think that’s important. That’s the point of travel. A lot of us are so stuck in what we see every day, and we think that that’s the way that the world works, and it’s just not. There’s so much other there. There’s always more to learn.

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