I’ve been wanting to go in a float tank since I was young but never got the chance until recently. I had a lot of questions before I went that made me hesitant to book an appointment. How does float therapy work? Do I need a bathing suit? Will I have to wear a robe that doesn’t fit me? Will I be too fat for the float tank? Basically all of the questions. I couldn’t find anything online about being fat and floating in a sensory deprivation tank, so I thought that when I did it I could answer all the questions I had (and some that you sent me on Instagram and Snapchat).
The team at White Spa in Herne Bay reached out and offered me the chance to try out their float pods so that I could give you the run down and I totally jumped at the chance. Basically my previous knowledge of sensory deprivation tanks was limited to this episode of The Simpsons, so I went to my first float pretty unsure of what it would actually be like.
I got a pretty thorough run down on how things would work, the dos and don’ts and a chance to ask all of the questions when I arrived. While I was a bit nervous before I arrived, once I’d met the therapist she put my mind at ease. Just a heads up, there are some things that mean you can’t float – if you’ve had a recent spray tan or dyed your hair, if you’re breastfeeding or have your period for example (check out the full list here).
What is floating?
Basically you’re floating in a little bit of water with a whole lot of Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate). The water is at skin temperature, and the float tank is a sensory reduced environment, which means you’re lying weightless in silence and darkness. There are a whole lot of benefits – I’ll mention the ones I experienced later on, but you can read more about how it all works here or watch the video below (it’s about six minutes long, but it explains things better than I can).
Things to know before your first float
- The float room was private, and while a robe (that def wasn’t in size fat) was provided, I didn’t need to use it.
- You don’t need a bathing suit or anything special to float in – just show up and strip down once you’re in your private room. Everything you need is provided.
- You need to shower and shampoo your hair before your float (make sure you take off your makeup if you have any on!), so you don’t bring any contaminants into the pod. All of the shampoos and bodywashes etc. were provided, and they’re special ones that won’t affect the water in the float tank.
- Float tanks and pods will differ in size, but mine was pretty big. I could stretch my arms right out to my sides and just touch the side walls; I could stretch my arms up above my head and only just be touching the ends of the pod. Heightwise it was pretty big – I could easily stand in it while bent over – so I didn’t feel like the top of the pod was too close to my face or anything like that. There was plenty of room, so my fatness was definitely not a concern.
My sensory deprivation float experience
After I showered and shampooed my hair, I put the supplied earplugs in, got into the pod and closed the top. There was a float pillow to support my neck, which I used, but to be honest I probably didn’t need it – the Epsom Salts make you pretty buoyant! There were lights inside the pod (which you can turn on or off – I turned them off so that I could really get the full reduced sensory experience), and music that played for a short time and then faded out.
Then I was left lying in the dark, in silence. I never realised how little silence was in my life until I got into that pod. My brain is loud – it’s constantly think about how to solve problems, the next thing I have to do, worrying about random shit … it’s all go all the bloody time. It reminded me of trying to meditate – I’m not very good at switching off and I’m very easily distracted.
On my first float, it felt like the longest bloody hour of my life. That shit draaaaaaagged and it felt like I was in there forever. I get bored after being in the bath for more than half an hour, so I was beginning to regret committing to three sessions. The second float was better – while I didn’t fall asleep or go into a meditative state (not that I really know what that is haha), I did manage to chill out and focus on my breathing for most of my session, although I got a bit antsy near the end. The third float was totally different – I got in and relaxed really fast … and then I found a weird space between wakefulness and sleeping. It might have been the Theta state, but I also could have just been taking a nap. Either way, it was bloody relaxing!
When my float session was drawing to an end, the music faded back in. A voice told me the session was over, and I got out of the pod and back into the shower to wash the Epsom salts off. Once I was dried off and dressed, I got to chill out in a little lounge and relax with a glass of water before I had to head back to reality (aka Auckland traffic and my busy email inbox).
How much does it cost?
If you want to pay as you go, then a one off casual 90 min float session at White Spa is $120, which is the same as what I’d usually pay for a one hour massage. They do offer concessions that are really good value for money; two 90 minute float sessions for $149 ($74.50 per float) or four 90 minute float sessions for $280 ($70 per float). Obviously prices will differ depending on what spa you visit, but keep an eye out for concession pricing to get the best bargain.
What benefits did I get from floating and would I go again?
Even after my first session I noticed that my float therapy left me feeling less achy, more limber and I felt calmer and more relaxed. I also slept really well, and woke up feeling rested, which is rare for me. After my second and third sessions I noticed that I was feeling the benefits of my float for longer. It’s definitely something I would need to do on a regular basis in order to maintain those benefits, I think fortnightly would give me the right balance of still feeling the benefits but without being too hard out on my bank account. I am definitely keen to keep on floating, because for roughly the same price as I would pay for an hour long relaxation massage I can get two float session and I feel like it’s been really beneficial for me mentally and physically.
If you’ve got any questions about my experience, or something you’ve always wanted to know about float therapy, let me know in the comments. I’d love to know if you’ve ever been to a float spa and how you found it!
Would you ever try float therapy?
Let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: I tried float therapy courtesy of White Spa but all opinions are (as always) my own.