The Dead Sea exists in London and you can experience it too.Tucked away in Vauxhall is a gem where you will feel like you are in the Dead Sea. I’m talking about The Floatworks.
It’s a surreal experience, but is beneficial in so many ways. Floaters come here for all sorts of reasons; preparing their mindset for exams, de-stressing after exams, de-stressing afterwork, soothing achy muscles after exercise, revitalising skin, meditating, soothing pregnancy aches, arthritis…the list is endless.
So, before you begin your floating experience at Floatworks, you are given a form to sign to declare you aren’t under the influence of alcohol or drugs. After the admin process is completed (including reading a sheet about how to float), slide off your shoes and slip on a pair of flip flops (provided by Floatworks).
Every floater is given their own room at Floatworks, which adds to the experience of floating as it means the whole time you are there, this is well and truly your own ‘me-time’. Within the room there is a shower and a pod. You can either float in the nude or with a swimming costume/trunks on. It is advised to float in the nude as it helps you to be free and relaxed.
The calmingly, therapeutic music in the pod begins and continues for about 10 minutes to help you slip into an entranced state of relaxation. You can either keep the lid open for the pod (if you are claustrophobic, this will be useful) or close the lid.
About 25kg of Epsom Salt is pumped into the pods and the water is kept at a warming skin-temperature, which help you to stay afloat. Put together with the warmth of the water, it doesn’t feel like you are floating in water. The only way I can explain it, is as if I was wrapped in a warm, cotton blanket, like how a parent wraps a baby with a towel after a bath, or floating in clouds. It’s an incredible feeling.
Close your eyes, let your body relax, breathe slowly and float. The design of the pods meant that whilst I was breathing, I became more and more aware of how I was breathing. It fell into a rythmn. What you do in the pod is up to you. You can focus on your breathing, you can think about something or you can think about nothing. At the end of the day, your floating experience will be different to another person’s experience and that is part of the beauty with floating. At some point, I felt so relaxed that I floated in and out of a sleep. And, you know what? After floating, I was so refreshed and relaxed that I felt like was on cloud nine. This was so helpful as the nerves were beginning to kick in for Hamburg Marathon. My skin felt smoother. My mind felt calmer. My muscles felt less achy. I was de-stressed.
A few days later, the calmness I felt was still there. I actually asked Chris, the founder and director of The Floatworks, about this, and he said the sensory deprivation causes a deep form of relaxation, which in turn has shown to decrease activity in the amydala, which is responsible for fight or flight response. That lowers the stress hormone levels of cortisol and releases the happy hormones, dopamine and serotonin. Wow, that was a lot of science I just put in there!
But anyway, with that in mind, if you have an important meeting, interview or exam coming up that you are worried about, I would recommend a floating experience to relieve those nerves. The amount of Epsom Salt in the float tanks are even beneficial for your skin and hair. The salt exfoliates dead skin and volumises your hair (and so I found).
For athletes (note, I’m using this term to describe everyone who exercises regularly), floating can be combined with sports massages. So if you are reading this, after recently running the London Marathon, or any other race, think about adding this into your post-race recovery tool bag. Floatworks advise to have a sports massage first to break down those tight areas and knots. Floating then allows your body to relax, supporting blood circulation around the body, which in turn helps with recovery. I’ve heard that many athletes use floating as a tool for visualisation** to visual their goals too, which fits in well with the SMART goal strategy I learnt during my Hamburg Marathon training.
Floating is widely popular in the States, with the likes of Elle Macpherson, Tom Brady and Joe Rogan being known as regular users. In the UK, floating hasn’t yet become as popular, purely because there currently aren’t enough floating centres across the country. Floatworks are aiming to change this, by opening ten centres across the country in the next three years. Keep your eyes open for them in a city near you. When you try your first floating experience, you will become hooked. This is an experience that will help you in more ways than one.
If you are in London, Floatworks are offering a discount to all users. Simply use the promo code MARA and you’ll receive a 20% discount. I’m really excited for you try this and would love to know what you thought of it. Have you been floating before? What did you think of it?
** For further information on this, the NBA MVP Steph Curry regularly uses float tanks. Here is a video where he talks about the effects of floating for him.