According to Wilkinson, despite the fact that the Float Industry and concept of “floating” was introduced in the 1950s, the wellness concept and innovation behind the terms float tank or float pod is still new to many.
“It was new to us!” explains LeRoi. “Tammy bought us a gift certificate for a couples float last Christmas. Within the first 20 minutes in the tank I became deeply relaxed. Three days after the float I was still feeling the positive effects. At that point, I realized we needed to have a float center in Oswego and share this with our community, this is life changing!”
A float tank or pod is a tub that contains a saturated solution of Epsom salt, provides a light and sound reduced environment, and is kept at skin temperature. This environment allows a person to float effortlessly without external stimuli for many purposes, including meditation, relaxation, and physical therapy.
According to Wilkinson, float tanks are the perfect bathtub, and while they vary in sizes, the typical tank is 8’ long and 5’ wide. The tanks hold about a foot of water, then saturated with 1,000 lbs. of Epsom salt, creating a solution and density similar to the Dead Sea, allowing a person to float on the surface half-in and half-out of the solution. The salt water is filtered and sanitized with ozone and UV light in between each float and the client has the option to keep the door open or closed for personal comfort.
“It’s truly an environment unlike any other,” said Wilkinson. “In its purest form, it is absent from light, sound and the perception of gravity.”
The benefits of float therapy extend to stress and pain relief to improved mental health, physical recovery from injuries or training, enhanced creativity, and addiction.
“Having been diagnosed with Lupus in 2008 I had experienced severe inflammation and pain in my body most days,” Wilkinson said. “I am of a natural mindset when it comes to my health and wellness and seek out ways to give myself relief beyond the traditional western medicine path. Floatation therapy gives me 3-5 days pain free each time I float, so the proof is in the pudding (or the water) for me and I wouldn’t be without it.”
Research on the effects and benefits of floatation stem from over 60 years of studies.
“Floating was first used in the early 1950’s to test the effects of how the human brain would respond when it was void of stimulation,” Wilkinson said. “The early experiments weren’t really a deprivation of senses, but rather the idea of forming an unpatterned sensory environment.”
Further research and self-experimentation studies by Neuroscientist Dr. John C. Lilly, and later Dr. Jay Shurley, focused on sensory isolation in float or immersion tanks. The subsequent results showed experiences of deep meditation, personal discovery and self-actualization.
Throughout the 1960’s and 70’s, the float tank industry, techniques, manufacturing, and even terminology to REST, or “Restricted Environment Stimulation Therapy”, evolved the concept of floating. And, it wasn’t until 1979 that first float center opened, a 5-tank center in Beverly Hills.
“The opening of the first float center in 1979 truly highlighted the success that others modeled, and the industry emerged and went mainstream,” said Wilkinson. “New researchers now studied the effects and benefits of floating on stress hormones, addiction and behavioral therapy.
“Now decades later, after significant growth we are seeing a boom in the industry again,” she added.
A substantial increase in float tank manufacturers, emerging float center owners across the United States and globally, as well as increased awareness and funding for float-related research define the industry today.
The float industry is also seeing wide acceptance for professional athletes. The New England Patriots football team introduced floatation therapy to their players back in 2014 and have tanks at their Gillette Stadium facilities. Patriot players including Julian Edelman, Tom Brady, and Chris Hogan are all avid floaters, and are seeing the benefits of floating. Other athletes including Olympians Carl Lewis and Ali Reisman, as well as NBA star Steph Curry utilize floating for muscle recovery, and the meditative state enhances visualization techniques which boosts performance levels.
In addition, the military and many retired Navy SEALS are using float therapy for help with PTSD, accelerating learning, treatment of concussions, improvements in sleep, and rewiring/re-balancing the brain after traumatic brain injury.
“Like any industry, there has been an evolution of growth to where we are today,” said Wilkinson. “It’s exciting and has opened the doors for many float centers across the US and world, and our Aqua Spa Float Center and Wellness Boutique in Oswego.
“We are thrilled to bring our float sanctuary to fruition. We have partnered with Taylored Architecture (Syracuse, NY) to bring our vision to life. The Aqua Spa will offer Float Therapy, Halotherapy (salt) Therapy and Massage and include a rejuvenation room and beauty bar for your post treatment enjoyment. The center will include space for classes (Yoga, Tai Chi) and educational seminars and feature four deluxe quest float suites by Superior Float Tanks and two Revolution Float Orbs in 2020,” she said.
For additional information on the Aqua Spa Float Center and Wellness Boutique visit their website at www.aquaspafloatcenter.com, Facebook/Aqua-Spa-Float-Center-Wellness-Boutique, Instagram/aquaspafloatcenter, or by phone at (518) 253-6930.