Over the past few months I have been pushing myself hard both physically and mentally, training for my first triathlon. As a result, I am always looking for new ways to recover, relax and recharge my batteries. Sports massages, long, hot baths, cryofit sessions, and regular visits to my chiropractor are my go-to methods, but recently my husband suggested I give “floating” a shot. At first I thought he was crazy. I am claustrophobic, suffer from mild to moderate anxiety, and have the attention span of a gnat, so submerging myself in a dark, silent, water-filled pod for an hour seemed like a recipe for disaster. I had concerns:
· What if I get bored?
· What if I freak out?
· What if I fall asleep and drown?
· Is this sanitary or or is it like sitting in someone else’s bath water?
After doing a little online research, I got most of my questions answered:
· You might, but if so that’s a sign that you probably need this.
· You control the light inside the chamber and you can get out at any time.
· You can’t—I mean you can fall asleep, but the 1200 pounds of Epsom salt keeps you afloat so drowning is pretty much impossible.
· The water is filtered four times and sanitized with UV lights between floats.
Furthermore, floating is said to help people relieve stress, recover from injuries, fight chronic pain and more. It increases both dopamine and endorphine levels, and provides you with what is described as the “ultimate relaxation.” Ultimate relaxation? Sign me up!
When I arrived at Float, I was struck by the Zen-like atmosphere. The girl at the front desk was reading Eckhart Tolle, (yes, really) and she patiently answered my most ridiculous questions in a calm and soothing manner. I could feel my blood pressure dropping already!
After changing into a robe and slippers, I relaxed in a massage chair that was the equivalent of having three massage therapists working on you at once. Heavenly! To add to the bliss, the ceiling of the massage room looks like the night sky, complete with twinkling stars. I could’ve stayed there all day!
When it was time to float, I was taken to a room with a shower on one side and what appeared to be a very large egg in the center. I was instructed to shower, put in the provided earplugs, get into the pod and close the lid. Calming music was piped in and a soft light glowed both inside and outside the chamber. However, after about five to ten minutes the music faded and the lights went out. There was nothing but silence, darkness, and weightlessness. I could feel myself getting a little panicky, so I turned the light on. But after just a couple of minutes, I calmed down and turned it off again. (I admit that I did keep my hand on the button almost the whole hour though—ya’ know, just to reassure myself.)
My first thought as I began to settle in is that this must've been what Lady Gaga felt like at the 2011 Grammy’s (remember the giant egg?). From there my thoughts went everywhere: What did I need from the grocery? Would I have enough time to get a swim workout in afterwards? Was my husband enjoying his float in the next room? Eventually, however, my brain stopped spinning and I began to relax and simply float. I even briefly let go of the light switch and let my arms just hang. And although I never fell asleep, I did find myself in a deep state of relaxation that I rarely achieve on my own. If you are someone who meditates—this is the ideal environment for you!
After an hour, the music gently piped back in, signaling the end of the float. I got out, showered again, (you are required to shower both before and after floating) and made my way to the relaxation area filled with beverages, coloring books, a zen board, and other goodies designed to encourage you to relax, hang out, and unwind—which I did with a cup of hot tea.
Overall, I highly recommend the experience—but it does take a little getting used to—especially if you, like me, are wound a little tight. But once you relax and let go, it’s really a blissful experience. Physically, my neck and shoulders were less tight than before I went in. Mentally, I was in a much calmer state that lasted all day, and I enjoyed a deep sleep that night. They say that the first float is the hardest, but that it becomes easier to relax and turn off your brain with each session. I can’t wait to find out!
You can find out too! Call 210-562-3310 and mention that you read this post on Body Architecture and get your first float for just $50 (regularly $69). Visit www.floatsa.com for more info.