Muddy tries a float spa
It's just the time of year to have a magnesium-rich extended bath inside a giant egg
It’s just the time of year to cocoon yourself in an extended warm bath and here’s something that takes that indulgence to a whole new level.
I’d always been a bit wary of trying a floatation tank before, fearing claustrophobia. I once listened to a documentary about women fighter pilots trained for space travel in which enduring sensory deprivation via a flotation tank was one of the mental challenges.
Then I won a session at Hove’s Float Spa, or rather my other half won it for me, at Celebrity Bingo – an annual Brighton charity night with some decent prizes and interruptions for comedy, burlesque and the like.
The website check list for the experience was a little scary – don’t come if you’ve cuts and grazes and don’t shave beforehand or the salt will really sting. Once I descended into the basement venue however I was calmed by how, well, spa-like it seemed.
After I’d checked in and filled out the usual health form someone talked me through the float tank and what to do. They gave me earplugs plus Vaseline to cover any minor skin scrapes and left me to it.
The pod, and a shower for washing off afterwards, was in its own room so I had plenty of privacy (though you can book a double pod room with a friend). I was also reassured to hear that I could leave the pod lid open if I wished and that movement sensors would tell reception when I was in situ and they’d dim the lights and music then and raise them again at the end.
The pod seemed enormous (8ft 6″ long by 5ft 6″ wide in fact, so you’re less likely to touch the sides as you float) and it was emitting a pretty light. You don’t get a rubber ducky, but you do get a heap of relaxing magnesium-rich Epsom salts.
The first thing I did on getting in was forget the advice and wipe a hair out of my eye, rubbing salt water straight in. Luckily I’d been provided a fresh water spray on a hook in the pod for just such an eventuality. I experimented with the lid of the pod open and closed and was reassured it wasn’t heavy, though pushing it up when the rest of you is floating about is something of a challenge. Within a few minutes I was settled and the light and relaxing music faded.
I was expecting the float to be pleasant but relaxing isn’t really my forte, after all I’m a terrible sleeper and often watch TV perched on the front of my seat.
After a while though of drifting in the dark with an inflatable pillow keeping my head clear of the water I couldn’t be bothered to lift my arms and or push off with legs to move about. I was more startled than I expected when one of my limbs connected with the side of the tank.
Random thoughts started entering my head – dinner (OK, that’s fairly common for me), Star Wars and even, inexplicably, the words to The Wheels on the Bus.
The water is kept warm and towards the end I got so comfy I tried to turn onto my side as I would in bed, which left me holding my floating pillow under my head, legs flailing a bit. It was all very pleasant however.
A float experience isn’t cheap (£65 for a one-off hour at the Float Spa) on account of every tank having to be filtered and refilled with all those salts between every session. For that money I’d always rather plump for a massage, I thought – something that would have a more lasting benefit.
Afterwards, when I’d woken up a bit in reception with a herbal tea and a sorbet, came the real surprise however. It became increasingly clear just how floppy my body was. It’s said than an hour’s float is like 2 – 3 hours sleep. I’d taken magnesium supplements before to help me sleep, with limited success, but the shedload of magnesium in the Epsom salts in the tank had obviously had an effect.
Realising I’d run over my parking ticket I attempted to run when I left the spa. If you’ve ever tried to do this when you’re very drunk you’ll get the picture. There I was weaving up the road, wet hair trailing, my limbs flopping all over the place.
So, my tip is, do give it a go but also leave plenty of time for a float. I’d allowed 1.40 for an hour’s appointment but with the prep before and coming to after, especially if you need to drive, I’d say 2 hours is nearer the mark. And don’t plan anything like a spin class or an important work presentation for afterwards!
The Float Spa on Hove’s Third Avenue also offers yoga classes, massage, chiropracy and various wellness-themed workshops. Look out for multi-buy offers. thefloatspa.co.uk