Hope Floats

While most spa therapies are trying to engage the senses, flotation therapy actually works to soothe them. Considered by some to be a shortcut to meditation, floating in a warm saltwater pod allows the brain and body to rest and recover. As more and more research emerges about its many mind-body benefits, flotation therapy is growing in popularity and proving to be an effective treatment for those looking to go beyond mere relaxation.

According to David Berv, DC, co-owner of The Float Zone (Richmond, VA) and a passionate floater himself, floating has come a long way from when it was first considered merely a form of sensory deprivation. “In this era, flotation is now more aptly described as R.E.S.T., or restricted environmental stimulus therapy,” he says. Although a mouthful, the therapy has caught on thanks to today’s lack of downtime. “I think flotation is emerging as a trend due to the fact that we are a stressed out, 24/7 electronically connected and influenced society that is hungry for any lifestyle hacks that benefit sleep, stress, anxiety, and pain,” says Berv. With the importance of mindfulness, meditation, and sleep all taking center stage, people are looking for ways to truly disconnect. Inviting flotation pods make it easier than ever. “The float tank manufacturing industry has been instrumental in developing better technology with tank design, filtration, and bells and whistles,” says Berv. Gone are the days of claustrophobic tanks that were anything but inviting. Instead, the new and improved tanks are roomy and feature light and music, making them a calm and comfortable experience.

The benefits, which include reducing anxiety, improving sleep, sparking creativity, lowering heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, promoting mindfulness, aiding in muscle recovery, helping with depression, and more, are just some of the reasons float centers are popping up around the country. Just  Float (Pasadena, CA), one of the largest floating destinations, features 11 tanks that were designed and built specifically for the center to create the ideal float experience. True Rest Float Spa (Tempe, AZ), which debuted in 2009, has since spawned a successful franchise operation. “We have sold more than 50 franchises across the U.S., and we currently have 15 spas open and operating,” says Jim Rowe, CEO of True Rest Franchising. This year, the company will have more than 20 spas under construction. “We have seen the general public become more and more attracted to natural and holistic methods for the mind and body, and frankly, everyone needs more personal time, and floating provides a euphoric environment for that,” says Rowe. 

Spas and wellness centers are also incorporating this relaxing therapy into their offerings. Q Flatiron (New York City), for example, offers Infinity Float, in addition to a host of alternative therapies. “Our medical intuitive and owner of the space, Noran Malouf, experienced the benefits of R.E.S.T. himself and would refer a lot of his clients to other float centers,” says office manager Uzuri Guridi. “It was the perfect addition to our wellness center, given our mission of providing a safe sanctuary that encourages discovery and transformation.”

A personal experience with floating after suffering a painful back injury was what led Berv to team up with Christopher “Woody” Cheuk to open The Float Zone. “It was clear to me that this therapy had some far-reaching mind and body effects,” says Berv. It’s certainly one way for folks to stay afloat in these stressed-out times.