What to Expect at a Float Spa

What to Expect at a Float Spa

The other day I visited the increasingly popular trend of float spas. These spas feature pods for floating that provide a sensory deprivation experience to promote relaxation and rejuvenation. I had the opportunity to float at DC’s Soulex Float Spa for one of their 30-minute floats.

I received lots of questions about my experience and wanted to share for those who might be interested in trying a float. AND I’d love to share an exclusive discount if you’re interested in checking out Soulex!

What is a float spa?

A float spa features rooms with float pods, also known as sensory deprivation tanks. In the case of Soulex, they’re basically large pods filled with water. The water is filled with epsom salt, which allows your body to float without effort — providing the feeling of weightlessness and ultimate relaxation.

The idea with floating/sensory deprivation is that it quiets your mind and puts your body in an ultimate state of rest and relaxation. In addition, the weightless floating allows the muscles in your body to relax and reset, so it’s particularly good for not only mental stress relief, but also muscle recovery for athletes.

What do you wear to float?

You can wear a bathing suit or float naked — whatever you prefer. No one is in the room with you so it is totally up to you. I chose to float naked when I did it, which was nice because you’re not worrying about readjusting your suit or anything while you’re in there.

I actually panicked for a minute because I forgot a hair tie for the float. In fact, they actually said that it’s better to leave your hair down. Keeping with the relaxation theme, they said that tying back your hair is one more thing that keeps you tied up and recommended letting your hair flow free. That’s exactly what I did and having it loose didn’t bother me at all.

How do you prepare to float?

In each float pod room, there is a shower and you are encouraged to shower before and after your float. As you shower, the float pod fills with water (at Soulex this took about seven minutes). You’re also provided with ear plugs should you choose to use them. (I did and liked having them!)

As you settle in to the tub, there are lights glowing around the inside of the tub and nature sounds playing. After about five minutes, the lights slowly go out and you can relax as you float.

The float pod is manually closed and lights around the pod stay on for the first five minutes of your float.

The float pod is manually closed and lights around the pod stay on for the first five minutes of your float.

Do you feel claustrophobic?

Once you’re in the tank, you are manually in control of opening and closing the cover of the pod. I chose to gently start floating in my pod with the top open while it was still filling with water. This gave me time to get acclimated to the space, decide how I was comfortable with floating, and see if I felt comfortable being fully enclosed. After a minute or so of floating, I felt very calm and safe and decided to gently close the top of the pod. The cover didn’t make an intense clicking sound or anything like that as you pulled it down so I certainly didn’t feel trapped. Additionally, once the cover of the pod was closed there was still enough space above me that I could sort of sit up if I wanted to, which definitely helped to avoid it feeling too claustrophobic. (Plus, my eyes were closed so it was easy to forget that I was enclosed.)

All that said, if you want to try floating but aren’t comfortable being fully enclosed, you don’t have to close the pod lid all the way. You can keep it wide open, crack it open a smidge or close it fully — 100% your choice.

Soulex also has one room with a large tank that can accommodate two people that isn’t enclosed at all.

How do you know when it’s over?

For whatever reason, this was the question I was dying to ask. When your float is coming to an end, nature sounds begin to play within your pod and a few minutes later the lights within the pod begin to reappear to signal the end of your float.

How do you feel after?

As advertised, I felt incredibly relaxed after my float. It was very similar to a long savasana in a great yoga class. I took my time showering and enjoying the amenities in the spa so I’d definitely recommend not booking something immediately after your float so that you can get dressed and prepared for the real world at your leisure.

Would you do it again?

I would 100% do it again. I felt incredibly calm after the float and the whole ritual of floating was a cool experience. I’d definitely float again as a nice treat in the middle of a stressful time (AHEM, wedding planning) as a forced relaxation break.

One piece of advice though — eat beforehand. I floated before lunch and the only thing that interrupted my relaxation was my stomach grumbling halfway through. Oops.

Can I get a deal to try it?

That’s what I’m here for! Sweat Smarter readers can get 15% off their introductory three 60-minute float package with promo code “FLOATSMARTER”!

Thank you to Soulex for offering this discount and providing me with an opportunity to check out floating!

Tell me - would you try floating?? What other wellness trends are you curious about?

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