ó Carolina Begglo looked like a sleeping princess as she lay
on her back, her long, dark hair billowing around her while 10
inches of water cradled her body and 1,000 pounds of Epsom
salts kept her from sinking.
31, is a new convert to an old form of rest and pain relief
that has arrived in Orlando: the flotation tank.
happens so fast: your life, your work, constant stress,"
said Begglo, a massage therapist. "Itís always nice to
find someplace to relax."
what Laurie Samulonis Bowers and her husband, Mark Bowers,
thought when they opened East Coast Floats in Baldwin Park,
Fla., in August. Since then, more than 800 people have climbed
into one of their three sleek, white pods that look as if they
belong in a sci-fi movie.
whose hands and back get tired from work, said the water,
darkness and silence ease her discomfort and soothe her mind.
The sensation is similar to dreaming, she said.
very calm. Itís very quiet. Itís just you and
yourself," Begglo said, adding it "totally relaxes
you till the point that you forget even your name."
say the focus and freedom from distractions they get in a
flotation tank ó sometimes known as a sensory-deprivation
tank ó are conduits to spiritual enlightenment, anxiety
relief, improved creativity and physical restoration. Some
tout the tank as a remedy for conditions including
fibromyalgia, arthritis, whiplash, jet lag, migraines,
insomnia, premenstrual tension, back discomfort and
of miracle cures havenít been proved, said Tom Fine, who
studied flotation for 20 years and is on the board of the
Flotation Tank Association. But research and anecdotal
evidence have shown that floating can relieve pain and
an easy way for people to experience a very deep relaxation
experience that then they can transfer and continue to
experience with a technique like meditation," said Fine,
a mental-health counselor and associate professor in the
psychiatry department at the University of Toledo College of
process works like this: A client enters a soundproof private
room, disrobes, showers and lies supine in 150 gallons of
skin-temperature water. Earplugs and inflatable neck collars
are also available.
Coast Floats, a 90-minute session costs $45 to $75 and starts
and ends with music. Clients can control a dim, colored light
with a button inside the unit, and they can open the
clamshell-like lid anytime.
at the center range from athletes to businesspeople and
professionals suffering from stress, insomnia or pain, Mark
51, and his wife said they sank their life savings into the
venture. Laurie Bowers, 47, was a jet mechanic in the Air
Force, a middle-school teacher and the owner of a restaurant
and catering business before launching East Coast Floats.
Bowers, a software-company vice president, became interested
in floating about three decades ago and decided to look into
it as a business a couple of years ago.
Bowers traveled across the country to try out float tanks
before deciding on a $22,500 Float Pod model made by Royal
water is filtered four ways, and a lab recommended by the
Florida Department of Health tests it weekly, Laurie Bowers
said. The health department regulates the center, sets
standards for disinfection and filtration and will conduct
biannual inspections, spokesman Dain Weister said.
John C. Lilly developed the isolation tank in 1954 while
working at the National Institute of Mental Health. He wanted
to see what would happen to the mind when it was deprived of
as much stimulation as possible.
he helped computer programmer Glenn Perry design the first
when they first invented these tanks, they thought without
sensory input your brain would go to sleep," Mark Bowers
said. "What they found is itís quite the opposite. Your
brain just expands."
gained popularity in the early 1980s, when the NFLís Dallas
Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles bought tanks for their
players. The 1980 science-fiction movie "Altered
States" brought the practice to the public consciousness.
appeal waned but has undergone a resurgence in the past few
years, with spas now in Canada, Europe, Australia and more
than two dozen U.S. states. Comedian Joe Rogan is an outspoken
proponent. A brain-research laboratory in Oklahoma also is
studying whether the tanks could be used to treat conditions
such as anxiety, addiction and anorexia.
think itís overall a great experience, and people can really
benefit from flotation," said Paul Morgan, a University
of Pittsburgh researcher who determined that floating
alleviates muscle pain after exercise. "It helps not only
with mental and emotional state of mind, but potentially with
the physical aspect as well."