Floatworks has just opened a shiny, new float centre in Vauxhall and invited me to have my very first floatation experience. I know it sounds like some kind of levitation witchcraft but I promise it’s not! Read on to find out more…
What is it?
Floatation, or float therapy, involves ‘floating’ in a tank half filled with super salty water (it’s the magnesium rich Epsom salt that makes you float instead of, you know, drown) and reaching a state of total relaxation. Both the air and the water in the tank are set to body temperature and it is pitch black and silent, and this creates the sensation of floating – you lose all senses. Research shows that, like meditation or yoga, regular floating can have a significant impact on your mood. Many athletes cite floating as a method for helping them to relax and clear their minds before a big game, or an aid to recovering from injuries; Michael Phelps, Shaquille O’Neal, Wayne Rooney and Carl Lewis to name a few!
Who is it for?
Floating is for everyone! Like yoga and meditation, it’s something that anyone can try and, for some, it will work while others might not be so into it. However, the benefits are especially suited to athletes, people with stressful jobs or lifestyles, those who want to enhance their creativity and anyone with an injury. People with stressful jobs – sounds like most young professionals in London, right? Even if you are sceptical about floating, it is definitely worth giving it a try.
What’s the 411?
Chris and his team welcomed me to the float centre, explained the whole process thoroughly and put my mind at ease. Each room has a shower and a floatation tank, which has a blue light in it. You first take a quick shower, then put some silicon ear plugs in, then hop in to the tank, closing the door as you go. Ideally, you should float fully in the buff, but if you’re uncomfortable with that you can wear a swimsuit. Lying back in the tank is quite a strange sensation – it takes a while to truly trust that it will hold your weight, and it’s especially hard to completely let your head fall back! Once I turned the light out and started to relax, it did feel pretty strange for a while. Having my eyes open in the dark freaked me out a bit so I decided to keep them closed 🙈
My mind was racing at first – I was trying so hard not to think that all I could do was think! But after a while (I have no idea how long, you completely lose sense of time in the tank), I did find myself really relaxing. Parts of my body that I thought were already relaxed went limp, and I genuinely couldn’t feel where the water ended and the air started! I didn’t quite fall asleep but did feel very switched off, and was finally starting to ‘get it’…then all of a sudden it was over! The hour flew past, and when I got out I felt like I had just woken up from a long sleep. I felt super relaxed yet energised – exactly how I feel when I come out of bikram yoga. Once your session is finished, you’ll need a long shower to get all of the salt off your body and out of your hair. After this, I made my way to the chill out zone to chat to the other floaters and have a Positivitea 😋 I left Floatworks feeling chilled out but ready to take on the day! To be entirely honest, the feeling didn’t last all that long, but the benefits of floating are cumulative, so I’m looking forward to having another session – I felt like the first one was like a practice and now I’m ready to do it properly. One thing I did notice is that my neck and shoulders were sore the next day because I was holding so much tension here and took so long to really let go!
The Fine Print
Floatworks is a stone’s throw from Vauxhall station in St George’s Wharf. They have a number of packages available for newbies and pro-floaters alike. A single float is £55, or you can get a package which will reduce the price to as little as £45 per float. For long term floaters, you can purchase monthly memberships which will allow you to float once, twice, four or wight times per month for £45, £80, £140 and £240 per month respectively. Floatworks also have a number of introductory offers and gift cards. While each float is 1 hour, you should allow at least 90 minutes for the whole experience.
I can definitely see the benefits of floating, however, it is a pretty pricey habit to take up. If you’re already doing yoga or practicing meditation and mindfulness, you may not need floatation but it’s always worth trying it once. If you have real trouble relaxing or de-stressing and haven’t found something that works for you yet, this could be it! Floatworks is a great place to get started, and I’ll be going back there for my next session sooner rather than later 💦
Have you floated before? Let me know in the comments what you thought of the experience!