• REGENERATION

    Float Free

    By Chris Roussos

I’m an adventurous guy and willing to give most things a go, especially if there are health, fitness and high-performance benefits. So of course, I was ready to jump in when challenged to get still and go deep with a sensory deprivation isolation float experience for 24Life magazine.

After a busy few months leading key strategic initiatives, kicking off the year and preparing for our company’s 35th anniversary, the thought of an hour spent disconnected from the world and reconnecting with my deepest thoughts sounded great. I searched for a nearby float center, and I was surprised to learn that they can be found in almost every city and that the practice had been around for a few decades and had continued to evolve in product and programming.

History

Floating in salt water for spiritual and therapeutic reasons has been around for centuries—everyone has likely heard about the healing properties of the Dead Sea. The first float tank was developed in 1954, but at that time, they involved full submersion in water and use of a breathing device that completely covered your face, which is not relaxing for most people.

The first lie-down commercial tanks were invented in the early ’70s, and recently, float therapy has increased in mainstream popularity as a proven way to reduce stress, inflammation and aid recovery. The newest float tanks suspend you in magnesium-saturated water (think Epsom salts) with a density that keeps you buoyant. The water and the air around you match your body’s temperature, and as the tank is soundproof and lightproof, you feel completely immersed and at one with the environment

To float, you enter a controlled environment and float weightlessly and effortlessly in the warm saltwater, either with a guided meditation or music or without for a minimal sensory experience of self-reflection and discovery.

Benefits

Some of the purported and often-studied benefits of floating include a reduction of stress, decreased anxiety and depression, reversed cognitive burnout, increased creativity and mental performance, improved sleep quality, heightened sensory awareness, reduced inflammation, diminished pain, improved physical recovery post-training and improved athletic performance. Each of these qualities independently and cumulatively adds value to high performance and a purpose-driven lifestyle. I was looking forward to experiencing the float firsthand and experience these benefits for myself. I want you to TRY THIS, too!

Insights and experiences

My experience was great because it was different, something I’d never tried before. I felt more relaxed when I finished my 60-minute float than when I started. I got into the float module and closed the door behind me, and things got very quiet quickly. I laid back in the water and was amazed at how high I floated in the salt water. I turned on the soft music, raised my arms above my head as the operators recommended and faded off into various levels of subconscious presence. I found myself floating mentally in and out of different levels of awareness as I relaxed with my eyes closed. The experience was amazing and one that I will do again!

Surprises

The biggest surprise is how relaxing you feel when you’re finished with your float. I don’t relax easily, so I was surprised how quickly I faded off into the different levels of subconscious awareness. I was still amped up from my morning workout, and this had no effect on how quickly I slipped away.

Recommendation

A typical float session lasts 60 to 90 minutes. Go for the 90. Make sure to block time on either side of the appointment, and get there early. It is harder to relax if you are rushing in, and while you may be ready to do anything on the other side, you will benefit if you have time to continue to allow your mind to stay open and free.

It’s also good to avoid caffeine and don’t eat too much in advance of the session so you are less jittery and not digesting your food. Note, you may experience nervousness and restlessness in the tank on your first float, so the extra time in the session is useful to help your body and mind adjust to the sensory deprivation. Also, for those worried about being in the dark in an enclosed space: The sensation is more like floating in outer space, and you have control over the environment, including light and duration of the time in the tank.

Photo credit: Erda Estremera, Unsplash; zhang kaiyv, Unsplash; vlorzor, Adobe Stock

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Author

Chris Roussos

Chris Roussos is CEO of 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. and leads the company in changing lives through fitness. He has served as CEO, President or COO for healthcare services companies for more than 15 years, including Epic Health Services, the first-ever pediatric continuum of care for medically fragile children; Harden Healthcare, a post-acute healthcare services company; and Orthodontic Centers of America (OCA). Roussos previously held management positons at PepsiCo and Rubbermaid, and served for 11 years in the U.S. Army.

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