Float My Boat

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Man floating in water
We asked personal trainer and health guru Duncan O’Brien, to dive in and then write up his floatation tank experience
‘It’s a little bit like trying to tell someone about an awesome movie without spoiling the ending’

I'm the first person to put my hand up to try out something new, especially if it involves relaxing in water. We first heard about this rather unusual way of relaxing a few years ago when a young, insightful entrepreneur called Lee dropped some exploratory questionnaires into the gym, asking if we would speak to our clients about their potential interest in using a floatation tank.

It was certainly something we would want to encourage our clients to do as a way to balance out busy working days. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met a person in the North East who wouldn’t benefit from some deep rest, relaxation and regeneration.

As it turns out Lee only had his first float in 2013. He was so inspired and energised by the experience that he wanted more, and he wanted it locally. Unfortunately, the specialised tanks are expensive to privately own and there were none in Newcastle.

We didn’t hear much more for a while but thankfully, behind closed doors, he was grafting away and in mid-2016 launched the Driftwood Float Spa. Today I had my first float and it was well worth the wait.

While showering after my one hour in cocooning darkness I was contemplating how I would share my experience, and even if I should at all.

It’s a little bit like trying to tell someone about an awesome movie without spoiling the ending. But actually I’ve been unable to resist telling everyone about it, there were some who immediately went for it, but I have heard a few doubters so let’s get the excuses out of the way first...

Scared of the Dark? Leave the mood lighting on. Can’t swim? You float – it’s so salty it does all the work for you. Zero effort.

What if I fall asleep and drown? You’d have to try pretty hard to turn over and would soon wake up with the salty water in your mouth.

Isn’t it claustrophobic? You can leave the lid open and it spacious in there.

I don’t like water? That’s a shame as your body is made of the stuff, but really it feels more like the most amazing mattress than being in water especially with it being around body temperature.

I don't have time? How many box sets, beers or comfort food sessions do you sit down to in the name of relaxation? This is true relaxation, a break from the normal not more of the same. 

After being shown to the float suite someone explained how it all works (then he left). It runs like this: seven minutes for toilet, undressing and showering. Enter the floatation tank, close the doors yourself (with the option of internal light on or off). Float for 30 minutes with music and 30 minutes of silence. Music returns to signify the end, shower, get dressed, cuppa and a relaxed conversation about the experience.

I won’t lie, it took about 40 minutes for my thoughts to calm down. I didn’t stop myself from splashing around when I first got in. I tried turning onto my front, closing my eyes and holding my nose to avoid salt intake. I experimented with a variety of arm positions and finally settled on the starfish.

Once I finally let go it was expanding bliss, somewhere between floating in the most amazing bath (without the bubble) and pure weightlessness at the height of a trampoline bounce. At the magic moment just before returning to earth someone pressed pause and I was gently held in total peace. Neither hot nor cold, just still and at ease.

Afterwards my muscles felt great and my skin smooth. I did have a hair do more bouffant than usual – but it was well worth it.

So ask yourself this ... when was the last time life felt effortless? If you enjoy yoga, massage, meditation, pilates, stretching, Alexander technique or Bowen this is already right up your street.

If you love/endure intense exercise and working out this can bring you back into balance as the magnesium works its way in, helping you to recover. It is a bit of an alien environment, but I’ll be encouraging everyone to have their first float.

Amazingly, the night before going to Driftwood my wife had a scan, and we saw our baby floating effortlessly, free from gravity – a perfect environment to grow and explore.

Driftwood Float Spa, Heaton 
0191 209 6298 
www.driftwoodfloatspa.co.uk

Published in: December 2016

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