The flotation tank gained popularity among pacifists in the 1970s as a peaceful alternative to the dunk tank. Make waves, not war, with today’s Groupon: for $39, you get a one-hour float session at Float First in Chesapeake (a $79 value).
Float First’s flotation pods cradle customers in salt-infused water to relieve pressure on joints and soothe skin with healing nutrients. Spa-goers shower before climbing into an i-sopod float tank, the filtered water of which is combined with 1,200 pounds of Epsom salts to enhance buoyancy. The water creates a feeling of zero gravity to relieve the pressure on strained muscles and weary joints, while the salts encourage the healing of superficial scrapes and the slow transformation into a mer-mayor. After the pod lid is closed all the way or left partially open, quiet, ambient music lulls customers into tranquility for the first 10 minutes of the treatment. The music returns five minutes before the end of the session to signal bodies to awaken for the posttreatment shower and an optional tap-dance number.
Though Float First sometimes features a discounted price online, this Groupon still offers the best deal available.
“I don’t fall asleep⎯though many people do⎯but I am relaxed. I lie there, my thoughts drifting from the to-do list of life and, then, naturally, to space,” says Mike Gruss of the Virginian-Pilot, who stepped into one of Float First’s pods for the first time in January 2012. “I am the John Glenn of the suburban relaxation frontier.” The sense of antigravity Gruss describes in his piece is a common one. It occurs in part because the water inside each 8'x5' i-sopod is heated to skin temperature, which makes it hard to tell where the water ends and one's body begins. Of course, the ability to float effortlessly also aids in creating this sensation. More than 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt combines with 10 inches of water inside each pod, a ratio that helps any man, woman, or unplugged mini fridge to float. Each float session⎯which can be conducted with the capsule’s lid closed or open, in case patrons are concerned about experiencing claustrophobia⎯is meant to imbue a deep sense of relaxation in clients, as the tank deprives all senses of stimulation. Aside from making guests feel lighter than air, the soothing session also boasts benefits such as improved sleep quality and faster recovery from muscle injuries.