Last week I was invited to see what it’s like to be an actual mermaid at The Floatworks in Vauxhall. I hadn’t ‘floated’ before and didn’t know a huge amount about it until I arrived, but I was excited to see what it was all about.
The Floatworks has just opened this month and is really easy to get to – it’s straight across from Vauxhall Station in the courtyard of St George’s Wharf. I was made to feel welcome when I arrived and was told to relax in reception while I waited for my float.
When my float room was ready, I put all my worldly possessions (including mobile phone – arrgh!) into a locker, slipped off my shoes and into the flip flops provided. I was shown to my own room, which was basically a big bathroom with a shower in the corner, heated towel rail (plus fluffy towel) and the i-sopod floatation tank that I would be spending the next hour in.
I had a quick briefing of how it all worked and what I needed to do, then was left to float. Before you get in you have a quick shower and pop in the ear plugs provided, as your ears go under the water. I also took a bikini in but was told it wasn’t needed (!)
So there I was, ready to get into my floatation tank. I felt a little bit apprehensive at first, but the tank is huge and feels really spacious when you’re inside. There’s a light that you can control (I tested this a couple of times before I closed the lid!) and music plays for the first 10 minutes to ease you into your float.
How does it work?
The floatation experience is delivered through a super-saturated Epsom salt solution, 25cm deep and containing 525kg of magnesium rich Epsom-salts. The tank creates an environment similar to the Dead Sea but without the sensation of temperature or movement, so you float effortlessly on the surface.
The water is set to skin temperature (35.5°C) and the environment in the tank is controlled so that the air is also skin temperature. Once you’re in and floating, it’s actually impossible to tell which parts of your body are in the water.
When I first got inside my tank and closed the lid, I took a few minutes perfecting my float. I found that I was holding a lot of tension in my neck and calves and I really had to focus on relaxing. How could I trust that I would be buoyant enough to completely float?!
After a while I felt confident enough to float in the dark. This was pretty scary at first; lying in a closed tank, on your own, in a locked room, totally naked and wearing ear plugs. I had all sorts of thoughts going round my head; what if the fire alarm goes off? How long have I been in here for? What shall I get for dinner? Having no concept of time is really disconcerting, but I tried to take some deep breaths and relax.
I don’t know how long it took, but after a while my thoughts… kind of vanished. It was just me, floating in the water. I don’t think I fell asleep but I definitely experienced a deep relaxation that was not like anything I’d felt before.
Before I knew it, the dim light switched on and music started playing to signify that I had five minutes left. I honestly couldn’t believe that a whole hour had passed by so fast, I didn’t want to get out.
After I’d showered I went upstairs to the glamorous Hollywood room to dry and straighten my hair, then headed to the chill out room for a herbal tea and chat with Chris, The Floatworks MD to find out more about the benefits of floating.
I felt so calm and relaxed you could have told me that all my money had been stolen from my bank account and it wouldn’t have phased me. Even now, a few days on from my float I feel calm and invigorated.
I’d massively recommend paying The Floatworks a visit. If I haven’t persuaded you already, here are just a few of the benefits (a lot of these are backed up by proper scientific research don’t ya’know):
Benefits of floating
- Offers a way to calm and de-stress
- Good for mindfulness
- Eases anxiety and depression
- Aids muscle recovery
- Helps sleep deprivation
- Reduces blood pressure
- Stimulates blood flow
Finally, many of Team GB used floatation tanks in their training for London 2012. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me. Maybe I’ll become a floating expert and win a medal…
Find out more on The Floatworks website.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to The Floatworks in return for an honest review.