Imagine laying in silence and complete darkness, in a tank filled with 11 inches of water and 1000 lbs of Epsom salts making your body float like a cork. The water is heated to body temperature so you lose the sensation that you’re in water. With all your senses deprived, this is a place where it’s just you and your thoughts. This can be a very surreal and relaxing experience.
I finally had the opportunity to try out a flotation tank, or sensory deprivation tank, as they are sometimes called. I’ve wanted to try one of these since first hearing about them sometime over the past 5 years but have never came across any to try. As soon as my wife and I found out about the Float Shack in Red Deer, we knew we had to go and try it out! We booked an appointment at the Float Shack for both of us and made our way over there.
What an awesome place they have! We showed up about 30 minutes early because I wanted to take pictures for this post and was immediately impressed with how calm and cool their space is. I was greeted by owners Lance and Cole and they were very welcoming and gave us a tour of the Float Shack. I wasn’t expecting the space to be a cool hangout spot, with lots of local artwork, cool books to read, comfy couches and chairs, tea, and even coffee from DOSE Coffee Co. here in Red Deer. I thought that this was definitely one of the coolest places in Red Deer to hang out and I hadn’t even had my float yet!
Once both of our flotation tanks were ready for us, Lance proceeded to give us a tour of the actual tanks and explain the steps of getting in and out of the tanks and everything that goes along with that. Each of the tanks are in private rooms that you have all to yourself. Once I had my instructions on what to do, I showered off in my private room and proceeded to get into the tank. Shutting the hatch to the tank and having complete darkness took away my first sense. Then slowly laying down in the 11 inches of water with 1000 lbs of Epsom salt completely took away any sense of gravity (the saltwater in a float tank is actually greater than that of the Dead Sea!). I was amazed at how I popped up to the surface immediately and at how no effort was needed to simply float. Once I was in a comfy position I waited until the music went quiet (they play music the first time you float so that you know what the music will sound like when it’s come for you to come out of the tank). After about 10 minutes the music was quiet and I could hardly tell that I was floating in water. The first half of my float was a bizarre experience and I felt almost like I was flying through space. It was if my body couldn’t tell if I was moving at a thousand miles per minute or simply suspended in space, which is exactly what it was! The first 30 minutes I had a hard time concentrating on any specific thing. I would have the most random things pop into my head and leave just as fast as they came in. My thoughts were definitely scattered for a while but then slowly I started to just enjoy doing nothing. Floating there in complete silence, with no stimulus to affect me or gravity pulling me down, I was able to just be. It was like I was able to separate my brain from my body and reach an ultimate level of relaxation.
After my 90 minutes was up, the music came back on, letting me know it was time to leave the tank. I reached around in the dark and found the handle and opened the hatch, coming out a very relaxed person! They say 1 hour in the float tank is equivalent to 4 hours of deep sleep. My wife and I can both attest to that. We felt so refreshed and relaxed afterwards. As well as being refreshed, I felt very recovered from my training. I had done a fairly hard 4 hour session earlier that morning and had pretty heavy legs before going into the tank. Because my muscles were completely relaxed for 90 minutes and soaking in 1000 lbs of Epsom salts, I was able to leave the tank feeling like I didn’t even train that day!
Wondering what floating can do for you? Below are my top reasons why athletes should float that I learned from my experience and from Lance at the Float Shack:
- With the elimination of gravity and sensory input, blood pressure is lowered and circulation is increased. Cortisol (stress hormone) levels drop and the brain pumps out endorphins (good hormones). This will help flush out our bodies of any by-products that accumulated in our muscles from training. And who can’t benefit from lower stress levels?
- Recovery time from joint and muscle pain can be greatly reduced because of the power of Epsom salts. I know a lot of athletes who throw Epsom salts in their bathtub after a hard workout. Imagine floating in a tank with 1000 lbs of salt for 60-90 minutes!
- Being able to hyperfocus or “superlearn”. Lance told me that some pro-athletes, like golfers, will put a video of a perfect golf swing on a monitor inside the tank so that they can focus totally and completely on that one thing and drill it into their subconscious. Some people will even learn a new language while in the tank. This is a great place where you can visualize like no where else.
- Being able to do absolutely nothing in the tank if that’s what you need. I’m sure many of my floats in the future will be exactly for this reason. As a triathlete, constantly physically moving forward every single day by either swimming, cycling, or running, it is SO nice to be able to just float for 90 minutes knowing I have nothing to do in that time but to relax, recover, and be refreshed when I come out!
If you live in the Red Deer area and would like to try floating, visit their website- http://www.thefloatshack.com/ or give them a call at 403-347-5355. If you mention that Dusty or my website (Fuel Your Endurance) referred you, you will save 25% off your float! Let me know your experience, I would love to hear how it went for you.