If you haven’t heard of the latest health phenomenon ‘Floating’ be prepared for your mind to be blown. Floatation Therapy is essentially a way of achieving deep relaxation by spending an hour or more lying quietly in darkness, suspended in a warm solution of Epsom salt. If you haven’t heard of float tanks, they are also referred to as isolation tanks, sensory deprivation tanks & REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) chambers. Sounds spooky, right? My husband requested Float Tank Therapy last year for his birthday, and while I admit I was a little confused, I obliged. He has been telling me the benefits of floating for years now, and is even adamant that he will get his own tank one day! Although I’d chuckle and shake my head every time he mentioned it, I knew deep down I had to give it a go before I wrote off the idea. Well, I recently dipped my toes in the water (so to speak) and was pleasantly surprised.
I visited The Float Space in Maroochydore (Sunshine Coast) and was taken through the introductory demonstration, was treated to a nice shower and organic shampoo all before the daunting task of getting into the tank. While I had doubts and fears, the whole process was utterly relaxing. Yes, my brain was going a hundred miles an hour throughout my session, which is enough to tell me I need to go back.
I was so intrigued by the experience that I thought I’d reach out to the owner of Float Space to get a bit of background on floating and how her personal journey led her to open up her own space. I hope you enjoy reading and if you have any questions, please just get in touch. I highly recommend giving floating a try, despite your fears and skepticism.
Can you please introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about your background?
We’re Janina Hildebrand and Felipe Galler, owners and founders of The Float Space.
I (Janina) am originally from Germany, was raised in Africa, and have a background in Health Promotion research. I migrated to Australia in 2008. I spent my formative years as an elite athlete competing for Germany in modern pentathlon and triathlon – two very demanding sports. For over 10 years I would wake at 4am and run 10km before quickly eating breakfast and cycling a rigorous 40km to work. There, I’d sit all day hunched over a computer, bashing out reports with barely a moment to think. After a long and stressful day at my desk, I’d prepare myself for a post-work 4km swim that was part of my daily training. This was my daily routine for as long as I can remember.
Pursuing a highly demanding academic career and the competitive life of an athlete, was taxing for my body and mind but I loved it. I thrived on it. I would feel high at the end of the day, knowing I was achieving my personal goals. I believed I was doing the best I could for my body. But one day, at the age of 29, it all came crashing down. Instead of jumping out of bed, I couldn’t move. I spent the next 3 months flat on my back, totally exhausted.
That crippling moment when I couldn’t move led to a staggering 3-year+ rehabilitation during which I suffered with excruciating and incessant chronic fatigue, constant brain fog, insomnia, migraines, gut and hormone issues, memory loss, joint pains, plus multiple other symptoms. As the illness progressed, symptoms only worsened and I was even starting to present with signs of seizures and other terrifying issues. I could barely get to the other side of the room, let alone perform any physical or mental activities. My whole world had come crumbling down. I was shattered and had lost any vision for my future.
Frustrated by the lack of answers I was getting from the medical system, I was forced to take matters into my own hands and during these 3 years experimented with a suite of natural medicines and therapies including homeopathy, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, naturopathy, hormone therapy, supplements, chelation therapy, ozone therapy, a complex battery of IV and oral supplements and herbs, and even spent weeks in various specialist clinics overseas, with no real improvement to my health. It was only when I discovered float therapy and commenced a regular float practice coupled with other detoxification methods (infrared sauna, BioMat therapy, raw vegan diet) that my health slowly but surely returned.
I attribute floating as the most significant contributor to my recovery as it has helped calm my nervous system and allowed my mind and body to truly heal like nothing else.
Felipe, originally from Brazil, has had a long career in the hospitality industry from working as a chef on cruise liners, as head chef in exclusive hotels in London and Perth, teaching as a chef lecturer to feeding hungry workers on offshore oil & gas ships and rigs. Towards the end of his time working offshore he discovered floating accelerated his recovery time from long and tiring fly in fly out work and night shifts, as well as after long surf sessions. Felipe had also developed work-related tendonitis in his wrist from cheffing which did not improve for months and as a result had to take nine months off and undergo surgery and countless physio sessions. Unfortunately neither of these relieved the pain he was experiencing and only when he started floating did the pain finally disappear.
How did Floating come into your life initially?
We fell in love with floating about 3 years ago when we had our first float as an escape from ongoing health issues Janina was experiencing due to burn out resulting from a high stress career and high intensity training, and for Felipe to recover from taxing fly in fly out shifts.
I felt so much lighter and freer after just one session. For the first time in years I was able to deeply relax: to let go. So I decided to continue floating and see where it would lead me. It was during a long and arduous healing journey that I discovered floating but it has changed my life and I’m grateful to have experienced this adversity helped me find something that gave me true purpose in life.
Felipe, experienced a similar effect. He’d been working as a chef for many years but at the time had been unable to work for 9 months due to chronic tendonitis. We both tried floating at the same time, and came out of that first session feeling enormous relief. We knew we had to learn more about this incredible form of healing.
Regular floating has literally given me a new lease on life. I have energy again. I can ride a bike and swim again – at a gentle pace nowadays but I can appreciate this more than ever before. I have the energy to run The Float Space together with Felipe, a task that is not easy and has required extremely long hours of us and much personal sacrifices, as any business would. But best of all I feel alive and free.
So after discovering floating, what was the catalyst to open your own float space?
Our floating journey really has been life changing. Floating became such an important part of our lives and it’s so much more to us than a business.
We set up The Float Space to help others have access to a tool that can help alleviate stress, reduce muscle and joint pain, improve sleep, increase focus, clarity and energy, and generally improve their overall wellbeing.
We are dedicated to spreading the word about floating and its amazing benefits. Because we know what it’s like to struggle with your body and goals and we know how incredible the effects of floating have been for us. We want everyone we come in contact with to know about this incredible tool that can elevate our mental and physical wellbeing.
Floating has helped me go from bed ridden to healthy, energised and motivated, and both Felipe and I have never been happier. It has been our super power and we want others to get to feel that way too.
What has the feedback been like from you customers?
Since opening The Float Space in Maroochydore in 2015, it has been an incredibly humbling experience for us. We hear stories from our clients on a regular basis, telling us how their lives have changed through floating.
Be it mentally, for example feeling less anxious, working through past trauma, having overcome depression or even being able to give up highly addictive anti-depressants; or physically – such as the relief of chronic pain, the results are profound. We get people suffering from arthritis, chronic back or neck pain, injuries or fibromyalgia, feeling pain free or able to move their hips or other joints for the first time in years. Some of our clients who float regularly have told us they have managed to return to work after years of disability and not able to hold up a job due to their illness.
People tell us they sleep better, have more mental clarity, feel more productive and creative, and generally just feel happier and less overwhelmed, like they are more able to cope with their day to day demands. Because let’s face it. We are all stressed, be it work, study or other constant demands. It is unlikely that these will just disappear. But if we have a tool that can help us actually become more resistant to stress and go through our daily lives with ease and happiness, wouldn’t that alone be amazing?
What other services does The Float Space offer?
The Float Space Sunshine Coast offers: float therapy, infrared sauna, BioMat therapy, massage, Reiki. The Float Space Brisbane offers: float therapy, infrared sauna, cryotherapy.
What or who has been your biggest inspiration to starting your own business?
The remarkable improvements we have seen that floating has had on our own health and quality of life is what motivated us to open The Float Space.
Our world is bursting with stimulation, almost everyone struggles with some sort of issue that impairs their quality of life in some way or another, and more often than not these issues are stress related. For good reason, float therapy is rapidly becoming the “go to” for people who are highly stressed, have chronic pain, adrenal fatigue, sleep disorders, migraines, anxiety, depression, PTSD, asthma or are in rehabilitation.
Floating in a super saturated solution of Epsom salt and water frees you from the sensation of gravity, temperature, touch, sight and sound will conserve and redirect vast amounts of physical and mental energy. This will decompress the spine and induce a state of ultra-deep relaxation that will lower cortisol and melt away the tension stored in muscles. Stress, the number one destroyer of your immune system, can be kept “at bay” with a simple regimen of floating. And deep relaxation is a major boost for almost any physical issue.
Just one hour of floating is equivalent to 4-8 hours of deep sleep, and has the detoxification results similar to a three-day fast.
Alone, these two benefits above will help restore, revive and renew your “defences” to their normal healthy state. Floating helps to stimulate the body’s own natural power of healing and regeneration, and leave you with a euphoric afterglow that can last for days.
From my own personal experience I’m certain that if I had incorporated floatation into my training/recovery regime before I got hit with burn out, I would have been able to prevent the host of health issues I consequently endured. I know so many people who put themselves under so much pressure to constantly over achieve, train harder, look better etc., it creates a spiral of stress, anxiety, negative self talk and other issues which we often simply ignore and out off as a normal part of us. Self care is often not a priority when in fact having more balance and down time in life will help you be more productive, happier and have a more positive outlook on life and yourself. This is something we want to convey to people to help them become the best they can be.
We hope that by offering this service to the community, we are able to help others prevent health issues from occurring in the first place to maintain optimal mental and physical wellbeing. We also wanted this to be a way of providing others with a tool to assist them in the recovery from certain health conditions floating has been found beneficial for.
Our aim is to provide a space where people can just relax, take some time out and have a mini holiday from their busy schedules, so they can leave feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, ready to go back to their lives with renewed energy and motivation.
What would you say to someone who is yet to try floating, perhaps if they are fearful of confined spaces and the idea of ‘sensory deprivation’?
The float tank can be thought of as being like a giant private spa bath, which holds 25cm of water and 500kg of Epsom salts. This amount of salt makes the water extremely dense so when you lie down, you instantly float like a cork. Anyone, no matter their weight, height or ability to float in other types of water will float effortlessly – guaranteed.
Floating in a float tank is a safe, clean and welcoming environment of which you are always in total control over and with the elimination of all external input, you will soon discover the true meaning of complete relaxation and stress relief.
The best thing you can do for yourself if floating interests you even slightly is to just try it. It is recommended to come with an open mind without expectations when you first try floating. Try to let go and enjoy this well deserved time out.
All of our float rooms are private suites complete with a changing area and shower in preparation for your float. The Float Space offers state-of-the art float pods which are super spacious (size of a small car) and you’re in complete control of your pod at all times. You can feel free to leave the lid open or the soothing chakra lights on, if you wish.
People new to floating often express concerns of feeling claustrophobic however floating actually evokes quite the opposite of that feeling due to the unique environment created. Once you float in the pod with lights off it actually feels like the space around you is limitless. Usually when someone tries their first float they tell us how pleasantly surprised they were about how easy, safe and comfortable they found the whole experience.
Each new client at The Float Space also receives a thorough induction for their first session to make sure they are completely comfortable and so that any concerns can be addressed to ensure a smooth float.
Another common question is how the water in our float pods is cleaned. We are very proud of the water quality in our float pods. The entire water in the pods is moved through a highly sophisticated filter system multiple times before and after each float, removing even they tiniest particles, then it goes through a UV light for added filtration. Fresh water and salt is added daily to each pod to keep levels where they need to be so we’re always turning over the water plus for added hygiene it also gets sanitised with hydrogen peroxide. We take our water hygiene and safety seriously so we’re constantly monitoring it for our customers. In addition we regularly get tested externally by a lab in Brisbane who have found that our water is the cleanest they’ve tested across any other public pools and spas in Queensland.
Anything else you would like to add about your mission/business or about floating in general?
With two locations, one on the Sunshine Coast in Maroochydore and one in Brisbane West End, The Float Space aims to provide a unique retreat for anyone who needs to recover from a busy life in a tranquil and inviting environment. Each of our locations feature three private suits with state-of-the-art floatation pods which are shaped like a giant personal spa bath, each containing over 600kgs of Epsom salt dissolved into skin temperature warm water. Offering you your own silent sanctuary, they are designed to block out all external distractions such as sights, sounds, tactile sensations and give users the sense of zero gravity, tricking the brain into thinking that they’re floating in mid-air.
Float therapy has the ability to achieve a state of deep relaxation in your body that can be more beneficial than sleep. The body’s natural mechanism for healing is known as the parasympathetic response, which can only occur during deep relaxation. float therapy evokes this response naturally and every time you float this response is reinforced.
The benefits of float therapy are profound, and the positive effect for your mind and body can usually felt almost immediately. Float therapy has been used to treat headaches, insomnia, chronic pain, hypertension, and rheumatoid arthritis and research studies have shown that sensory deprivation tanks reduce blood pressure and the level of stress-related hormones, while increasing creativity.
The awesome thing about floating is that its effects are cumulative, so they become stronger and last longer the more often you float. After their float, clients are invited to take their time coming back to reality, relaxing with a cup of our own organic herbal tea creations in The Float Space’s post float lounge, reflecting on their experience, or taking some time to journal, colour in or meditate.
People of all ages and walks of life seem to enjoy the experience equally. What seems typical is how good everyone reports that they feel when they come out of the tank.