The Floating Revolution

Much like the reinvention of any decades-past trend, the booming wellness industry has brought about a revitalisation in holistic therapies that have been out of the spotlight for years, particularly when it comes to traditional Chinese medicine and naturopathy-based treatments.

One of these wellness treatments receiving a renewed popularity surge is the Sensory Deprivation Float. Created by Neurophysicist Dr. John C. Lilly over 60 years ago during his research on brain waves and states of consciousness, the experience is now being snapped up in spas and specialty centres around the world, with a noticeable presence building in Australia.

A unique method of achieving both deep relaxation and numerous mental and physical health benefits, Sensory Deprivation Floats, or Float Therapy, involves clients being immersed in a solution of warm water (body temperature) filled with enough Epsom Salts to provide buoyancy, and is generally accompanied by total darkness and silence, designed to produce an almost meditative state with no external distractions. Physical benefits can include muscle tissue regeneration and accelerated recovery, increased circulation, and improvement in some inflammatory conditions to name a few – a big draw card for clients with a heavily fitness-based lifestyle. In terms of mental benefits, it is widely accepted that Sensory Deprivation Floats can offer major improvement of symptoms of anxiety and depression.

In fact, the Laureate Institute for Brain Research just released its first ever study on the effects of Float Therapy on mental health, with respondents suffering conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Nearly 75% of the entire sample, and 82% of the severely anxious subgroup, reported that they had achieved more relaxation with float therapy than any of the other treatments or techniques they had tried in the past.

This week, SPA+CLINIC visited Sydney’s most popular Float destination Sydney Float Centre, to see what all the fuss is about. We spoke to Amanda from their Darlinghurst centre on what may be driving clients to more holistic therapies like Floating.

Have you seen an increase in popularity recently?
We are entering an age where wellness centres are becoming as popular as gyms. The popularity of floating, much like yoga or meditation, has increased exponentially over the past few years due to our increasingly stressful and overstimulated lives. We are all searching for a way to unplug, even if only for an hour.

What are the main benefits of floats?
Floating has been shown through numerous studies to help eliminate stress, tension and anxiety as well as offer relief from muscle soreness, back pain and sporting injuries. There have been over 80+ medical studies done on floatation therapy’s health benefits (and that number is growing everyday) and it’s been shown to treat a wide range of ailments and conditions such as arthritis, inflammation, tendonitis, depression, fibromyalgia. Just to name a few.

What kind of feedback are you receiving from clients?
The feedback from our floaters has been overwhelmingly positive. Even our first-time floaters who may have initially been skeptical of the experience consistently emerge feeling and looking completely rejuvenated and with a profound sense of calm. We almost wish we could take a before and after photo which shows the dramatic change we see in our clients faces after their float.

What is it about the experience you think people love most?
We’ve all dreamed what it would feel like to float weightlessly in space and initially our floaters love that they get to experience this surreal sensation. But the chance to soak in over 600kgs of magnesium-rich Epsom salt and allow their mind and body to completely unplug, reset, de-stress and recover is what draws people to floating.

Do your clients usually come back regularly or once-off?
The majority of our clients float either fortnightly or monthly, some of our members have been with us for many years and float twice a week!