Floatworks

Health and beauty, Spas Pimlico
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Floatworks

FLOATING IS THE hot wellbeing craze for 2017, or so the blissed-out founders of Floatworks in Vauxhall tell me, as I prepare to take my first salty plunge. The benefits look similar to those of yoga, meditation and mindfulness: stress relief, reduction in anxiety and pain etc. Basically it should leave me healthier, happier, fitter, more productive. Who doesn’t want that?

However, the idea of lying in a small, dark silent box for an hour makes me feel far from relaxed. Will it be claustrophobic? Will I have to confront my inner demons as I stare into the dark abyss? You guessed it, I’m not very good at chilling out.

But the guys at Floatworks are reassuring and the cocoon-like pods turn out to be way bigger than I expected (nine feet long by seven feet wide). My pod is in its own room, with a shower and I can get out at any time. The water is body temperature and contains 450kg of Epsom salt. That’s more dense than the Dead Sea, so it’s pretty much impossible not to float (another worry).

Once naked, except for earplugs and Vaseline on any cuts, I lie down and close the lid. There is 10 minutes of underwater intro music and after that it’s just startling silence. You can choose to have the light on or go for the pitch-black option. Once I establish where the panic button is, I go for the full sensory-deprivation vibe.

The feeling is surprisingly wonderful. My muscles totally relax and my whole body feels weightless. The hardest part is forcing my brain to slow down. I wouldn’t say I was 100 percent chilled out for 60 minutes but there were some nice moments of quiet calm.

Did I feel reborn when the light came on at the end? Nope. But I did feel different. My body felt good and my mind was marginally stiller. Like any form of meditation, you can’t expect to be good at it the first time, but I do think it could have a very positive cumulativeeffect. Especially for Londoners. Taking an hour to do absolutely nothing has go to be beneficial in itself Sonya Barber 

Posted:

Venue name: Floatworks
Address: 17b (Unit 20d)
St George Wharf
Vauxhall
London
SW8 2LE
Transport: Tube: Vauxhall
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tastemaker

As a person who will try anything once, I had to give this place a go. I had been recommended by a friend as she said it gives you a completely out of body experience and she was right. From the moment you step in, it's so relaxing. You get your own room with your own HUGE pod. They are actually so much bigger than I imaged them to be. My vision was of Homer Simpson sliding down a mountain in his pod while Lisa peacefully envisions moving swirls of light. Neither of these experiences happened to me but I really enjoyed the sensation of weightlessness. Let's be clear though, there was salt EVERYWHERE afterwards (sorry if I'm being graphic). It was excruciating when the salt accidentally got in my eyes but if that's the worst thing to happen, it's really not so bad. The staff here are also incredible and are happy to have a chat about wellness and the world's problems after your float. 

Tastemaker

I visited Floatworks with a friend on a 2 for 1 offer, we thought we would give it a try as it was cheaper than a trip to the dead sea. I am not a natural at floating but that said I did really enjoy it. I don't know the exact maths of salt to liquid but it was a lovely sensation. Sadly i knocked the side of the tank, opened my eyes, got a drop of insanely intense salt water in my eyeball and what followed was a series of events worthy of Miranda, I am just hoping that there is no CCTV in there! After sorting myself out I did enjoy my float. My friend had a much more successful time floating and loved every minute. I am not sure that I would go back as I prefer other forms of relaxation but it was fun to try something new. 

Tastemaker

Having launched in Vauxhall with bookings being made up to 10pm, 7 days a week (including a waiting list for 'overnight floats'), FloatWorks seems to be rapidly achieving its plight to foster a new trend on the wave of Mindfulness and Wellbeing.


What is floating? Floating consists of lying in a floatation pod filled with 1000lbs of Epsom Salts (double the density of the Red Sea) and indulging in a total sensory shut off, as you weightlessly relax your entire body whilst wearing earplugs in pitch black darkness. Imagine finding yourself in the Red Sea at midnight except that the water and air are heated to body temperature for maximum comfort, more akin to being a foetus back in your mother's womb.


A little history: Floating goes as far back as the 1980s, Dr John C Lilly was a neuroscientist, psychoanalyst, philosopher and inventor who used isolation or sensory deprivation tanks to further his research on the nature of consciousness.


Benefits? The benefits of flotation are purported to be akin to existing research on meditation and its effects on improving mood, lowering anxiety and stress, improving focus, alleviating some aches and pains and helping you sleep.


My Experience: Pre-float I was slightly anxious about what to expect, as most people would be with an unfamiliar experience, and kept wondering if the outcome would be one of two - either fall into deep REM sleep for an hour or become immensely claustrophobic. However my fears were quickly allayed by the infectiously happy and enthusiastic team at St George's Wharf, a disposition that may be testimony to practicing what they preach, considering they were still working at 9pm on a Sunday.


I was given a drink and a set of instructions about how to use and prepare for the isolation pod: bags and shoes are stored in lockers outside and you are advised to use the bathroom before the session begins. You don't need to bring anything but yourself as it's all provided - including GhDs / hairdryers for afterwards! Slipping on a pair of their pink flip-flops and grabbing a clean towel, I was shown to my room - every client gets their own room complete with shower and flotation pod.


Getting into the tank I prioritised putting my forever racing mind slightly more at ease by making sure I felt like I knew how everything worked: control of the light - check, being able to open and shut the pod with ease - check... there's not much else to it after that. Yet I still pre-occupied myself for a good while with thoughts of whether or not I was doing it all properly: when does the session start? Do the lights outside go off? Shall I try and sleep or shall I try and meditate? Are my ear plugs in properly? Am I lying the right way, shall I move around? I wonder how I'll feel after this? What was that sound? Just my stomach...


When I first read the FloatWorks website, I scoffed at the idea that it takes practice to become good at floating - how can it take practice to learn to be lifted by salt water in an isolation pod? Yet I now understand that it's not merely the physical aspect of floating that is hard, but the mental one. It is the same with most forms of mindfulness and meditation, although it sounds easy, training your brain to truly calm down is hard work! You can learn everything about mindfulness and talk about how to meditate all you like, but knowing the theory does not change the fact that the only way it will make a difference to you is via practical application and consistent practice. It would be like learning driving theory without ever actually getting behind the wheel of a car.


The verdict: At 55 pounds for a single float it is not a cheap hobby, however there are plenty of offers and monthly membership options available to those that find themselves addicted and reaping the cumulative rewards. This is also about the same amount you would expect spend on other ways to relax such as a massage or spa session in London. Overall I would highly recommend the experience and may have to gift my father a session, to encourage him to take long enough off work to enjoy a few hours of deprivation.

We are happy to go to the gym and train our bodies (well we are at least motivated to by the prospect of bikini season or being able to eat more at christmas), yet so few of us take the time out to train our minds despite our mental and physical health being so closely linked. Personally I think this is a brilliant way to help train and encourage mind and body to relax more deeply, more often and I look forward to further developments. Further information about booking and FAQs can be found on the FloatWorks website