To Float or Not to Float

So I went “floating” for the first time, and it was weird.

Floating is a growing trend in the health and wellness industry. It is viewed as being a sensory exclusive form of meditation, and is supposed to help you achieve the ultimate relaxation (lies I tell you, all lies). Floatation tanks are generally bathtub sized enclosed tanks and filled with body temperature water salted with magnesium sulphate. Supposedly, magnesium sulphate helps detoxify the body, reduces inflammation, and eases sore muscles, as well as stimulate the release of endorphins. Although I personally cannot attest to it having that result.

The whole thing sounds really good, you are just going to lie there as if floating in space. As someone who is a swimmer the concept both appealed to me and baffled me. Why would I pay $50 to float for an hour when I can do that at the pool? My curiosity won out on that logic, however. So, I talked about it with my friend, and we decided to do a two person float. We found a Groupon, which only made it that much more appealing, and thought we would give it a try.

The experience really began when we called to book our appointment. Me, having a fear of talking to people on the phone, left that responsibility to my friend. She called and asked for an appointment on a day we both don’t work and was promptly informed that the first available appointment was a mere 6 weeks away. Apparently we are not the only ones to have found this Groupon and were too enticed on not having to suffer the possibility of claustrophobia alone. We finally found a day that worked and proceeded to anxiously wait our turn.

Flash forward to our float day and little did we know about the experience in which we were about to embark. Safe to say, we were not prepared. We were greeted at the door and swiftly herded into a waiting area where there were many waiver forms to sign. After questioning certain things we were “agreeing” to (the spa not being responsible for any thoughts or ideations we had while floating?) and ultimately signing (we were here and we were going to float god dammit) we were ushered into the changing room area. We were then informed to take everything off including our underwear. This left us not only confused but slightly speechless. Being half-fish humans due to our aquatics based job, we only naturally assumed one would wear a bathing suit during their float experience. When our float tour guide left us to change, and more importantly after we controlled our laughter and securely pulled our bathing suits into place, we were ready to get our float-on. I think it is also important to note that this change room was VERY small. I am not a very large person. For me to say that everything was small means it was small. The toilet stall was so small you had to sit on it sideways because there was not enough space for your knees between the toilet and the door. I don’t know who they were catering to, but I am pretty sure that it was not children as it was a spa. In a nice hotel. In Coal Harbour. It made no sense.

So, we went to the room with the floating tank, they explained the process to us, and gave us some really great tea (which we mutually agreed was the best part of the experience). Since the tank needed to be big enough for two, it wasn’t enclosed and it looked more like a large shallow hot tub. We were definitely on board with this environment. I got in first. I was expecting it to be difficult to move around in the water, it was not. What I was NOT anticipating however, was the fact that the salt burned. It burned in places you don’t want to feel burning. So I just sat for a moment, allowing myself to become used to the salty water as my friend also got in. She immediately was quite alarmed as she experienced the same burning as I did. We sat and wondered if it was normal. Decided it probably was the reason you aren’t supposed to shave or exfoliate for 24 hours before a float, and so we carried on. (If you’re curious, the answer to did it stop burning is both yes and no. Periodically as we moved it got worse, and as we were still was a little better.) And so then we floated. And it was interesting. The water was a pleasant temperature, and you really do just float. I have always been a bit of a sinker, so floating right up on the surface was a pleasant experience. The water however, was not current-less. We were both floating around everywhere. Admittedly this wouldn’t be an issue if you were doing a solo float, but we were bumping into each other all over the place. This definitely took away from the relaxation of the experience. You’re relaxing relaxing relaxing, and all of a sudden one of us gives the other a shove and says “stay in your own lane!” Maybe not the best way to find a meditative state. The other thing we learned very quickly was that getting the water anywhere near your face was a MISTAKE. It burned your eyes and tasted like poison. Unfortunately it is not hard to get in your face unless you are COMPLETELY still. This also make it hard to be completely relaxed.

Overall, the 60 minutes passed by fairly quickly, although we were both pretty happy to get out and rinse off once we were done. Though it took a couple of days before we really felt that the itching (caused by the salt on our skin) completely stopped.

The end result for us was left as feeling salty as f*** (pun intended). I might consider trying it again, but give me a 60 minute massage as an alternative and I will choose it every single time.


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