I read somewhere that floating therapy was all the rage to combat stress and anxiety, so I floated for an hour at The FloatworksÂ in Vauxhall. Hereâ€™s what I thought about it.
My mental health
If you follow my blog you probably know I have anxiety, depression, PTSD and that Iâ€™m a cocktail of egomania and nihilism wrapped in a 5ft5 Italian girl.
I have had therapy on and off since 2014, although Iâ€™ve probably been anxious since childhood. I tried counselling, CBT and all that jazz but, maybe due to the fact that I couldnâ€™t get either of them regularly, I havenâ€™t yet managed to stop my brain from exploding on a bad day/week/month.
Considering how hard it is to get free therapy in London – Iâ€™m currently on a three-month waiting list with the NHS – I thought it would be interesting try an alternative.
The Floatworks Experience
The Floatworks are in Vauxhall, just outside the station. Enter the square where you see the Pret, and DONâ€™T follow your maps because they are liars. I wandered around the place for 20 minutes until I gave up and called in for directions. I should have done that in the first place.
Inside, The Floatworks look like your usual boutique health clinic, with a futuristic kick. You leave your shoes outside, pick up a towel and get into your floating room. Each room is entirely private, with its own floating pod and shower. Inside you will find vaseline to put on any scratches you may have (the water is very salty, and if you have any scratch it will sting) and silicone ear plugs to prevent water from getting into your ears.
If youâ€™re a newbie like me, one of the lovely staff members will run you through what to do and what to expect. Essentially, shower first, and let yourself go while in the pod. More of that later.
What to Expect From a Float
You would think that someone as anxious as I am would not enjoy lying in a white, space ship shaped sarcophagus filled with salty water for an hour.
Turns out that claustrophobia didnâ€™t kick in as I closed the pod. When you get in, relaxing music will go on for ten minutes. A purple blueish light will be on inside the pod, but you can switch it off if and when you wish to do so.
At first, your body will feel very heavy and the water really oily. Then youâ€™ll end up feeling like a lilâ€™ baby foetus in your mumâ€™s womb.
When I was in, time went by surprisingly quickly. I was super happy thinking that a random fit guy who was on my same Overground carriage would ask me out, we’d have a nice relationship so that I wouldn’t have to download Tinder or Her anymore, and he’d buy me a trip to Hawaii… and then BOOM! The relaxation music signaling the last five minutes of my float came on and I had to go back to reality. And let me tell you, my reality includes no Hawaii.
The Floatworks Package
Floating costs Â£50 per float, but there are package options such as a Â£105 intro package with three floats, or a five floats for Â£185 package. There are also monthly memberships,Â with one float per month (Â£40), two per month (Â£70 monthly), four per month (Â£120) and eight floats per month (Â£200) options.
The Floatworks also have a Hollywood room with mirrors, hair dryers and straighteners, as well as a chill out room with bean bags and herbal tea for you to make the most out of your post-float time.
Tips for Floating
- When you first go in, you might feel like wanting to tense your neck to stay afloat. Donâ€™t do that – the water is so salty that it will keep you up.
- Get naked! Not knowing you could float in your birthday suit, I brought swimwear, but I ended up using it just for the picture. Going in naked definitely helps enjoying the experience – you don’t want to feel constricted by clothing.
- Experiment with different positions. You could just just float on your back extending your arms and legs, but to have a better stretch do try to move your arms and back gently. Youâ€™ll feel a deeper stretch and release in your muscles.
- Go only if you are ok with being alone with your thoughts. I am at that stage now, but if Iâ€™d done this a few years back this would have been my head:
About The Floatworks
The Floatworks are the brainchild ofÂ Tim Strudwick. They were brought to London by Ed Hawley andÂ Chris Plowman, who experienced floatingâ€™s life-changing potential when a physiotherapist prescribed it as a chronic back pain treatment.
The majority of floating research has been carried out by neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in America. Feinstein proved that floating significantly reduces activity in the brain’s amygdala, which controls our response to what we perceive as a threat. His research found that floatingÂ helps to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone linked to health issues like heart attacks and depression.
A key factor in Floatworksâ€™ ability to maximise these benefits is the cutting-edge i-sopod floatation tanks used in each room.
â€œOur aim is to open ten new centres in the next three years, which would allow us to help over 250,000 people annually,â€ Ed says. â€œOnce weâ€™ve achieved that, we want to launch a total wellness centre, which will offer a full range of services such as infra red saunas, freezing cold plunge pools, meditation rooms and healthy kitchens, as well as floating, of course.â€
I LOVED my hour at The Floatworks. I arrived a bit sweaty from the commute, tired from my first week of teaching and working this term and broken from pole. The night before I had taken an inter/vanced class – great for pole because itâ€™s more challenging than my usual classes, but destructive for your muscles the morning after. When I went out of my pod though the tension had lifted completely. Both my mind and my body felt more relaxed and almost lengthened, as if Iâ€™d just had a day of massages. I really recommend it, especially if stress is what worries you the most. Five stars!
*The Floatworks offered me a free floating session, but all opinions shared in this post are my own*