The first time I floated was in 1993. I was playing professional basketball in Israel and my parents visited me for two weeks in February. One of our tourist stops was the Dead Sea. Winters in Israel are usually mild with temperatures ranging from the high 60s to low 70s. During my time there, Israel experienced its coldest winter in 100 years. Sigh. I came from Indiana expecting a mild winter and froze my tail. I didn’t know if I would ever make it back, so after arriving at the Ein Gedi Spa, I decided to go all in. I donned my black polka-dot bikini, laced up my sneakers and ran to the end of the long sidewalk to plop myself into the Dead Sea for a few seconds. (The spa used to be right on the shore, but the sea has shrunk over the years.) My dad followed to take photos. Oh yeah – I also covered myself with Dead Sea mineral-rich mud. I ran back to shore, rinsed off in the outdoor shower, and then ran inside to sit in a hot tub with a bunch of older Israeli women, most of whom were naked and about half my height. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was still part of their local folklore – “Remember that giant woman in the bikini who sat in the hot tub at that spa?”
|I'm ready to go in, coach!|
|From cold sea to cold shower. Brrrr|
While listening to a friend’s podcast the other week, I learned about a new type of therapy that peaked my interest – flotation therapy. (If you have some time, check out Peter Shmock’s podcast at http://lifeathlete.com/podcast/ and pay special attention to #11 with Sean McCormick.)
What is flotation therapy? You float in 1,000 lbs. of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in a tub in a dark, quiet room. The salt is supposed to relieve inflammation and pain, and help regulate electrolytes. The actual floatation helps your body relax and lengthen as you float with no pressure. The silence gives your brain a break from the constant noise of life. Sounded good enough to give it a try.
After listening to the podcast, I searched for flotation therapy businesses in Indy. We currently have a few, with one being close to my office – A Place To Float. Their website offers a discounted first-time float, so I decided to take advantage. It’s regularly $59 and their special is $45. I quickly scheduled an appointment online for a 60-minute float.
There are two options for floating – you can choose a pod, which is enclosed, or you can choose a large tub. I had no idea what I was doing, so chose the pod. When I arrived, the woman at the front desk took one look at me and suggested I move to the tub. She didn’t think I would fit into the pod. Keep that in mind if you decide to give it a try. Regardless of height, some people may prefer the openness of the tub.
They gave me a quick tour of the facility – you have a private room (the door locks from the inside) complete with corner shower, shampoo, soap and towels. When you are finished there are nearby bathrooms with hairdryers, so you can ready yourself for your next stop.
In my little room I prepared for my first float. You can wear a bathing suit, but they recommend going “commando” so as not to be annoyed by any pulling fabric. You rinse off (and remove any makeup) and then get into the tub. There is a light switch on the wall, which dims the room lights. Once in the tub, there is a button on one side of the tub that you can press to make the room completely dark. There is also a button for you to communicate with the staff in case you need something. Or have a stroke. I assume they can also unlock the room if you fail to respond. That’s what I think about when preparing to float in a tub.
The water is the temperature of your body, and room air is warm as well. Even though you are partially out of the water, you don’t get cold. You don’t realize how warm it is until you get out and start sweating while getting dressed.
A few accessories are also provided – ear plugs to keep the water out of your ears. A thin foam donut to serve as a pillow. I found it difficult to keep my ears above the water while resting my head in the donut. I spent pretty much the entire time floating for a minute, and then adjusting my head and my ear plugs. Repeat. A state of fidgety relaxation. I liked the floating sensation and the quiet. I just had a hard time getting comfortable for a prolonged period of time.
Some people fall asleep, which is safe to do since you will float. I would think if you tried to turn over in your sleep you’d wake yourself up.
When your time is up, soft music plays. If that doesn’t “wake you”, the tub jets turn on after a minute more. You shower to rinse off the salt, then get dressed. I recommend not drinking a lot of liquids beforehand, as I had to pee really bad once I got out.
How did I feel? Somewhat relaxed. My skin felt soft. I liked the overall experience. As I checked out they told me I had one week of unlimited floats as a newbie. My first appointment was on a Monday, so I made a second appointment for the upcoming Friday. I might have gone more, but didn’t want to mess with re-doing my hair.
Giving new clients a week of unlimited floats is a great idea. If I had not gone a second time, I probably would never have gone again. The restlessness detracted from the relaxation. I also had a sore neck the first night from my head being in a weird position on the foam ring. Having had neck disc and nerve issues, that is the last thing I need.
My second float was a lot better. I asked for a second foam donut and it held my ears above water and my head/neck in a comfortable position the entire hour. Although I still didn’t fall asleep, the hour flew by and I floated with no fidgeting the entire time. Much more relaxing.
I highly recommend flotation therapy. I’m glad I was given a second chance and will definitely do it again in the future. One day I hope to return to float in the Dead Sea again. Until then, I’m stuck with a tub in the Midwest. Float on!