The Floating Spa is Birmingham’s first spa that offers ‘Restricted Environmental Stimulus Therapy‘ – otherwise known as ‘R.E.S.T’ – and what this therapy basically does is cut you off from your senses in order to allow your body and mind to switch off. When you’re floating you give up the ability to touch, smell, hear, or see anything. If you’re interested in learning more you can read a little extra info here.
Our experience at the spa begins from the moment we walk through the door. Upon entering we’re greeted by Nav, who is without a doubt the calmest and coolest guy I’ve ever met. He shows us around the facility and offers us insight into how the spa came to be. He checks that we know everything we need to before being left alone, and then he quite literally leaves us alone. Nav doesn’t hang around or uncomfortably linger, and he doesn’t pester by coming in to check on us. In fact there are no other staff wandering around. It’s one of my favourite aspects of the spa as I value privacy and quiet time above pretty much everything else. And being given space also makes me feel trusted, which is quite a special feeling.
The next time we interact with Nav – unless we need him – will be when he comes to let us know that our pods are ready. From now until then it’s made clear that the spa is ours to use as we feel, and it’s amazing how little time it takes for us to relax as if we were at home. There are two seating areas in the lounge, and a huge hanging hammock which is without a doubt the centrepiece of the room. The space is minimal and quiet, and I think I can smell some incense or a candle burning somewhere.
Sam and I hang out here while the pods are being cleaned from previous use. He stays over on the armchairs and I hang out in the hammock, just swinging gently. There’s a gorgeous tank filled with filtered water that we help ourselves to, and we take turns taking photos. There’s another couple to our right who have just finished their float. They’re relaxing on the bigger sofa and quietly chatting about their experience. I can’t work out whether it was their first time or not, but they look as happy as we’re about to be. I end up drifting off in the hammock while we wait.
After about half an hour Nav pops back in to let us know our pods are ready. I climb out of the hammock and grab what bits I need, leaving the rest of my bags and coat where I know they’ll be safe, and then we make our way to the back of the building. There are two rooms at the end of a candle-lit corridor, each home to a single pod. We both have a room to ourselves for the entirety of our floats, so I let Sam know I’ll see him on the other side and we go into our separate rooms.
My hour doesn’t actually begin until I close the pod lid, so I take the opportunity to assess the space I’m about to become vulnerable in. I wander around familiarising myself with the room, checking the lock on the door works (it does) and setting up my towels for when I’m finished. I hang my bags and coat before laying out my clean clothes on the bench, pop in my ear-plugs and jump in the private shower. It’s stocked with organic vegan beauty products from Faith In Nature, and I use the Aloe Vera & Ylang Ylang shower gel to wash the day off my skin. I keep the shower pretty quick, then remember to loosely tie my hair before climbing inside the pod.
I close the lid down behind me and lay flat on-top of the water, stretching my legs out in-front of me. It takes me a while to remain still as the amount of salt in the water keeps my body buoyant. For the first few minutes I’m bobbing gently on-top of the water, drifting as the water tries to settle. Occasionally my toe or fingers will bump against the side of the pod, but eventually my heart rate slows and my body becomes still.
The lights inside the pod remain on until I choose to switch them off. And after a short-time I reach to my left and hit the button that plunges me into complete and utter darkness. Absolutely no light makes it way into the pod, so even as I hold my hand directly in front of my face I can’t see a thing! I’m given 10mins of relaxing music to help ease me in, after which I know I’ll be left in total silence. I lay and wait, and eventually the music fades to black.
It’s at this point that I start to notice how much tension I keep in my shoulders and jaw. The magical thing about being inside the pod is that you feel entirely weightless. Even when you’re at home laying down on your bed, your body is still being held. But in the pod you’re supported only by body-temperature water. It gives the illusion that you’re flying, or y’know… floating…. I practise trying to submerge the back of my head, but the water resists and holds me up. This little reassurance that I won’t be drowning today is all I need to help me relax even further, and despite not being able to see anything anyway, I allow my eyes to close.
I don’t remain asleep for the duration of my float. I wake regularly, and each time I use my heartbeat to ground myself and get back to “the other side.” As I sleep I drift in and out of dreams that seem to intertwine with each-other; the same theme seemingly being present in all – I am insignificant. I feel as though I’m a lone satellite, floating through space. It’s an odd, yet profound moment, and I vow to remember it. As someone who suffers from anxiety I have the tendency to over-exaggerate the problems I face in my daily life. Learning how small I am in the grand scheme of things humbles me, and I’m thankful to be able to learn this lesson.
Occasionally my body jolts and twitches as though I’m falling, and at one point I’m almost certain I can hear the sound of a baby crying. I remember that it’s normal and just my body doing it’s job and checking in on me. I give my toes a precautionary wriggle and let myself drift away again. I’ve lost all sense of time at this point, so all I can do is submit myself to the experience and use what time I do have wisely.
I don’t know how many more times I wake, but eventually I hear the soft waves of music coming from the pod’s integrated sound system, and I know I’m waking up for good now.
As the volume slowly increases, I start to move my fingers, toes, legs, arms… I then reach back over to the left and switch the lights back on. I lay there until the pod starts to self-clean, and then it’s time to get out.
I take my time in shower, gently washing off the excess salts from my skin and hair. My body feels heavy and sluggish now that I’m upright, but I feel peaceful and so well rested. After I’m dry and dressed (in my Ted Baker pyjamas no less) I make my way back up the candle-lit corridor to join Sam back in the lounge.
He’s sat on the bigger sofa and looks as peaceful as ever. We sit in silence for a few minutes just enjoying each others company. The previous couple have already left, so it’s just us in the lounge now. We’ve both got a serious case of “the glow” going on and I can’t stop smiling. I help myself to some more water and head over to The Powder Room to dry my hair and moisturise. It’s one of the most luxurious spaces I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. One perfectly lit room fully kitted out with even more Faith In Nature products. There are hairdryers next to each mirror, and an extra socket in case you’ve decided to bring your own appliances – which you’re actually allowed to do! There are cotton buds, fresh wipes, and lavender scented hand-creams to help yourself to – and I do exactly that. I take my time combing out my hair and patting in all my creams. It’s like the entire world has slowed down. For once in my life I don’t feel like I’m in a hurry. And that’s the whole reason why we’re here.
We chill on the sofa for about an hour, quietly chattering. Not one of us wants to admit it, but it’s time for us to leave. We thank Nav for yet another incredible experience at The Floating Spa – and we start heading back towards to the car. It’s been the best day, and even as I write about it I feel emotional. I honestly don’t think there is a better place out there to experience floatation therapy. The floats are just £55 per person, and you get everything I’ve mentioned in the price – an hour’s float, the freedom of time to explore, the use of products and appliances, the private shower – it’s all included. It’s a small price to pay for what is, and can be a life-changing experience.
In my previous post (Your Self Care Routine, And How To Perfect It) I spoke about taking time out of your busy schedule to relax, and create a positively enriching future for yourself. The Floating Spa may not be the most affordable option for you, but it’s an experience worth investing in, and one that will leave you feeling cleansed and refreshed in every sense. There are packages available if you fancy buying some floats in advance, and you can have your floats loaded onto a gift-card if you’re not yet ready to confirm a date.
If you’re interested in booking a float, pop over to www.thefloatingspa.com and get in touch with Nav. The Silver Package (3x floats) is currently on offer for just £120 instead of £150, and you’re free to split those floats between people, or keep them all for yourself!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this post. It’s been a long one so thank you if you’ve come this far. Drop a comment and let me know what you liked, or what you think could be improved upon, and I hope to see you again on the next one!