Ever been to a float spa? Ever even heard of a float spa? Til recently I hadn't heard of any and certainly hadn't tried one. I'd been to Le Nordik a bunch of times and floated around in their hot tubs and pools, but when the kind folks at ISÖ Spa Flotation Centre dropped me a line, I had to admit I wasn't totally sure what they were up to. So I dropped by.
Owner Mika Husband (such a lovely guy!) explained that in a nut shell, flotation therapy is exactly what it sounds like... you'll be floating, but with an unexpected twist. During a float session, you'll climb into one of ISÖ Spa's ultra modern flotation tanks and lie in 1,000 liters of water that's heated to body temperature and mixed with over 1200 pounds of Epsom salts.
Yup, you read right: over 1200 pounds of Epsom salts.
This ratio of Epsom salts to water creates a buoyant, low gravity environment that lets you float on the surface of the water without even trying. I've never been to the Dead Sea but this is very much along those lines: lay back and the water will support you, so much so that even if you fall asleep your face won't tip into the water.
Here's what the tanks look like:
Mika told me Epsom salts have been shown to soothe aching muscles, detoxify the body, and reduce swelling, and the low gravity environment inside the tank lets your body escape the constant push of gravity and its effects. Frankly that sounded amazing (my bod needed some TLC after all these nights at run club) so I jumped at the chance to go for an hour-long float.
Now, I have to be honest: I was nervous. I'm a smidge claustrophobic and the thought of closing that lid freaked me out. Could I handle it? Would it be pitch black in there? I had no idea. But I was willing to try. Mika explained I could leave the lid totally open, partially open, or fully closed for as much or as little time as I wanted, it was all controlled by me and adjustable from inside the tank.
He explained that the ceiling lights in my private room worked on motion detectors, so with the tank's lid open, I could simply swish around a bit and the room would be fully lit up. He also showed me the blue nightlight I could control from inside the tank with the push of a button, meaning I try closing the lid without being left in total darkness. Options. I like options.
So it was time to float. As Mika suggested, I started with a warm (not hot) shower in my private room, then climbed into my pod. It's worth noting that one of these pods is about 5 times the size of your normal tub at home, so right away my anxiety began to dissipate. And to make sure you're comfortable, during your float you can wear a swimsuit or go fully monty -- it's totally up to you since you're the only one in there.
My float began with about 5 minutes of relaxing ambient seaside noises (birds, waves), which helped me shut out the day and focus on my float. I'm the kind of person who catches herself making mental to-do lists during yoga, so I'll take all the help I can get.
Note: you don't have to wear a bonnet when you float but I just had my hair did so... ;)
By the time the ambient sounds faded away, I was happy to float about in my pod: what a luxury to have nothing to do, nowhere to be, nothing to tweet.
And the sensation of floating was pretty amazing. At first I didn't trust that I would float so I decided to sit up and try some yin yoga stretches in my pod. But the salt/water combo is so buoyant it literally pushed my bum back up when I tried to sit: I had to fully engage my core to sit upright even for a few moments. Whoa! I laid back down in the water and settled in.
To give you an idea of the size of this thing, I was able to go full starfish without hitting any of the walls. I'm not tall, but still. Way bigger than I'd expected. In fact, I was so comfortable in there that I pulled the lid down -- first half-way, then fully closed, then I even mustered up the courage to turn out my nightlight! I had no sense of time inside the pod but I'm guessing I was floating in total darkness for at least 10 minutes or so.
For the rest of my float I kept the lid fully closed with my nightlight on, and made use of the mini pool noodle ISÖ Spa provides inside each of their tanks. You don't need the pool noodle to float, but for some of us first timers it can be reassuring to have somewhere to rest your head/neck.
As my float drew to a close, the ambient seaside sounds returned: my cue that it was time to rejoin the world. I climbed out of my pod and had a nice hot shower to rinse off the salt (shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are provided) and felt pretty frigging amazing. Even though I'm pretty sure I didn't fall asleep in the tank, I felt like I'd just woken up from a restful night's sleep.
Here's my post-float no makeup selfie:
I hands-down loved my experience at ISÖ Spa, so much so that I've already been back for another float and I brought my hubby along for the fun (he was a big fan too).
The spa is centrally located downtown Ottawa, it's beautiful, it's spotless, the staff are welcoming and informative, they offer options to make sure you're comfortable, and EVERYTHING is provided for you (towels, shampoo, even ear plugs to keep salt water out of your ears).
I want you to try a float so here we go!
15% off your first float at ISÖ SPA
Book yourself for a 60-minute (reg $60) or 90-minute (reg $75) float at ISÖ Spa, and if you mention Amy in 613 when you arrive you'll get 15% off your first visit!
And since I love giveaways...
win a float at isö spa!
I'm giving away not one but TWO 60-minute float sessions at ISÖ Spa! That's right: the lucky winner can bring a friend for twice the fun. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below and I'll announce a winner next Wednesday
Best of luck!