It’s an experience that’s become popular with with professional athletes from Steph Curry and Tom Brady to people just looking for a way to relax.
The experience is flotation therapy, which involves getting into a tank of salt water with more salinity than the Dead Sea, then spend an hour floating in pitch-black darkness.
Ralston residents now have a place to try it out at Afloat: Mind+Body Wellness, located at 4131 S. 84th St., which opened Feb. 24.
In 2014, owner Vicki Westergard first tried floating while living in Austin, Texas and caring for her terminally ill brother. To deal with the stress, a neighbor recommended floating.
She notice how relaxed she felt after the session ended, how centered her mind was and how much better she slept after being in the tank. Although she was in there an hour, the whole experience felt like only 15 minutes. After three sessions, she was already planning the layout of her own flotation spa in Nebraska.
For each person who experiences floating, their responses can vary.
“A response to a float is extremely individual,” Westergard said.
Westergard recommends her clients begin the session with 15 minutes in the massage chair, so they can be relaxed before they enter the tank. After the massage chair and a shower, guests step into the tank, which begins with peaceful music playing and blue lights, both of which fade away after a few minutes.
After that, it’s complete darkness and quiet, a total sensory deprivation experience. When the session is over, the music comes back on and the lights slowly come back on. Westergard then recommends her clients go to the Reflection Room, where they can enjoy a cup of tea and prepare to re-enter the outside world.
Katelyn Teager, who competes in Crossfit competitions, was looking for a way to relieve her sore muscles. She tried her first floating session on March 1.
Although it took a few minutes to get used to the darkness and silence of the tank, Teager said she began to find the experience very relaxing. The tank was so silent Teager said she could hear her heart beating in the tank.
“It got pitch-black, and I notice that especially in the city and society you don’t get to experience that very often,” Teager said. “Those were the times where I would forget where I was, when my body would let go.”
Teager likened the experience of getting out of the flotation tank to waking up in the morning. Her time in the Reflection Room made it a much gentler awakening.
“My mind is relaxed and my body just feels good,” Teager said.
Westergard spent an entire year searching for the perfect location for her business near 84th and F streets because she wanted a location that would provide plenty of parking for visitors. She signed the lease in June of 2016, and since then has been setting up her business, paying careful attention to every detail, such as making sure all of the colors used were soothing and relaxing.
“It’s amazing everything that goes into consideration when building a business,” Westergard said.
Afloat is a member of the Ralston Chamber of Commerce, which hosted a ribbon cutting and grand opening at Afloat on Thursday.
“I was introduced to the Ralston Chamber and it kind of felt natural to be a part of it,” Westergard said.
Westergard hopes that the people that come in to experience flotation therapy leave the spa feeling relaxed, happy, healthy, and looking forward to a good night’s rest.
“When people are relaxed, they remember to take time out for the important things,” Westergard said.
Along with her four flotation tanks, Afloat also offers massages such as Swedish tissue, deep tissue and hot stone, and an infrared sauna, which produces infrared rays of light designed for relaxation, weight loss and skin health.