I had been wanting to try a Float Spa for a while.
The appeal of it to me was that it’s like a forced time out. One where I really and truly was completely unreachable for an hour. Where it would be quiet and peaceful. Where there really is nothing else I can do but just rest and relax.
I found myself with an unexpected day off last week on a day when it was pouring down rain- the type of weather where people tend to stay inside unless they are forced out of the house, so I was able to get a last minute appointment at a local float spa.
Here’s my not-really-a-disclosure-because-I-don’t-have-to-dislcose disclosure: this was not a sponsored visit. I paid out of pocket and received the same experience any other paying customer would receive. I’m writing this only because I had a lot of questions after I said that I went and these are some of the fears I had before I tried it, so I thought I would share with you.
The float spa I went to offered hour-long sessions. If you have an option for a shorter session, I wouldn’t recommend it for your first visit. Go for the hour. I’ll explain why in a bit. But know that you’ll probably be there for closer to an hour and a half to two hours because there are things you need to do before and after your float.
As a first time visitor, there was a little bit of paperwork to fill out that asks about medical conditions and lets you know things like you shouldn’t float if you’ve had your hair colored in the past two weeks. And also that you’ll be responsible for the cleaning of the pod/pool if you pee in it. Ick. Do not do that.
Because it was my first visit, I was shown how everything worked, so that took a little time as well.
Before entering the pod, I had to take a shower. You need to rinse off any sort of lotions or make-up you have on. I went first thing in the morning and didn’t bother fixing my hair or putting on make-up because I knew I’d need to shower.
The attendant told me she’d give me 10 minutes before she started my time and I would know my time had started because she would turn off the jet that was cleaning the pod and it would get quiet.
I did go to a float spa where they have the pods. There are float spas where it’s more of a room with a pool in it, tall enough so you can stand. But this one was the pod, which is what I originally thought of when I heard about floating.
The attendant told me that the experience is really up to each person. There was a gentle purple light coming from the pod when I got there and the lights in the room were on. She said she definitely recommends turning out the room light because it will be harsh when you’re laying in the pod, but if you really want to leave it on, you can. There were controls inside the pod where you could control the light inside. Turn it off or even change the color. And that you can play around with it to figure out what you like, that you aren’t stuck with what you choose at the beginning.
The same goes for the sound: they had some relaxing music playing, but it could be turned off or you could use your own music.
Now, the part that surprised me- and you might laugh at me for thinking this- but you are also in control of the lid for the pod. You can close it all the way. Or have it open a bit. Or leave the lid wide open. For some reason, I had this impression that you’d get in and it would be sealed off for the duration and you couldn’t get out. But that’s not true at all. And maybe you already knew this, but in case you had the same fear I did, know that you are in control.
Inside the pod, there was a ring neck pillow that you could use or not; a spray bottle of water and a washcloth in the event that you needed to touch your face while you were in there, you could spray your hands first so you weren’t getting salt in your eyes; vaseline to cover any cuts you may have- I didn’t have any, but the attendant told me that if you do have any, you’ll quickly discover them when the salt water hits them but that you can spray them off with the water bottle, put vaseline on them, and you should be fine. There was also a call button for the main desk. If I pressed it, I could talk to her if I needed anything, but that she couldn’t hear me unless I did press that button.
Getting into the pod… okay, if you look at pics of people at a float spa, you may actually wonder what you should wear. Go naked. If you wear a bathing suit, the feel of the suit or it moving around can detract from the whole sensory deprivation experience you are supposed to be having. Eventually, since the water temperature is the same as your body temperature, it’s supposed to actually be a little hard to tell where your body ends and the water begins. But no one is posting naked pics in the advertisements for float spas, so you may have wondered. So naked- but with the provided earplugs.
I got in and closed the lid the whole way. I was still able to sit up in the water without hitting my head or even being close to hitting my head. Again, this is a weird preconception I had about these, but I imagined they were more like a coffin. So yeah, I thought that the lid would be right in my face and I wouldn’t be able to open it. I was so wrong.
Lay back and float. The salt in the water really will make this effortless. A tip I read before I went was that if you feel like you’re moving all around, to put your arms out and steady yourself on the sides for about 30 seconds and then let your arms drift back to your body and you’ll stay still.
I had the low purple light on, the music low, and the lid closed. I tried to figure out how to adjust the pillow but it was feeling really awkward. I ended up using it up closer to the crown of my head and that was better. But it was quite a bit of fidgeting. And then I thought I’d try total darkness, but that was a bit much for me. When I readjusted the light, it came on blue and I didn’t really care to cycle through colors, so I just left it on that.
I was still not feeling all that comfortable. At one point, I opened my eyes and it looked like the ceiling really was right in front of my face and I had a brief moment of panic, but once I focused, I realized that wasn’t true. Other than that moment, I was okay with the lid closed except for one little problem: I felt a little too warm.
The water is supposed to be heated to body temperature, but my non-sick body temperature is actually lower than the average. So maybe that was it or maybe it was just my discomfort coming through. So I cracked the lid just a bit to let in a little cooler air and I felt better.
The next thing I had to figure out was what to do with my arms. Most will say they should be gently resting at your sides, but I hate sleeping in that position so it wasn’t feeling much better in the tank. I decided to try something we do in yoga sometimes to try to relax: right hand resting on your heart, left hand resting on your belly, and really focusing on feeling your breath.
Once I had adjusted all of these things, the float spa actually felt like it was doing what I hoped it would. I was extremely relaxed. So much so that I actually fell asleep for a little while.
I have no idea exactly how long each of these things took because there’s no clock in there to look at. But this is why I’d recommend an hour for your first float, so you have some time to figure out what works for you. If I’d only tried a half hour, I probably would have left thinking that I’d never do that again. Next time, I’ll know right away what works for me and get to enjoy the full hour.
At the float spa I was at, they let you know your time is up by turning the jets back on. It’s a pretty gentle nudge back to reality. I was told to take my time getting out, not just jump out. I stretched, sat up slowly, and took my time.
Then it was time to take a shower. They had shampoo, conditioner, and body wash there, but you can bring your own. Once I’d showered and dressed, I went out to another area where there was a mirror and blow dryer(again: brought my own) and other things to help you get ready. I didn’t want to go out with sopping wet hair so I did take the time to dry it.
There was a relaxation room, too, where you could sit and have a cup of tea before leaving- another way to extend your quiet time.
After that, I headed out to reception to pay and leave.
I will definitely float again. I’m excited to go back and be able to get comfortable a lot sooner during my float. I really did feel relaxed and it was nice to have the forced time out.