We’re currently renovating our flat in Forest Hill (I know, it’s been going on for ages now. Click here for my post on the best way to remove rubbish with AnyJunk) and suffice to say it’s proving quite stressful. So when I received a press release about Floatworks, the biggest flotation centre in the world which claims to be able to help you de-stress, and which is handily located not that far from me in London Bridge, I was keen to test it out.
Floatworks is tucked away on Thrale Street, about a five-minute walk (at my leisurely pace) from London Bridge station and is a real hidden gem in that you could easily walk past it. Once I was buzzed in, I entered through a large green door and was pleasantly surprised to find I’d stepped straight into an oasis of calm. After filling out my details I changed my shoes for a pair of flip flops (they’re disinfected between each use but you may prefer to bring your own) in the reception area before I was escorted to my own private pod to begin my flotation session. I’d also brought my swimming costume with me but you actually don’t need one as each pod is isolated and has its own secure changing room so you can float naked.
I could see from the Floatworks website that the flotation tanks looked like a futuristic cross between an MRI scanner and a tanning bed but that was about as much as I knew by way of what to expect. I was talked through the process of how to use it which all seemed relatively straightforward – you have a quick shower then pretty much open the pod, get in, shut it, lie back and float. Admittedly I still felt a bit apprehensive so made sure I paid particular attention to where to find the light switch and the panic button in case of emergencies. But as I’d already heard people raving about how fantastic their experiences of floating were in the waiting room I was pretty sure I was in for a treat.
The idea is that you lie back and float in about 10 inches of warm Epsom salt solution (it’s not deep enough that you worry you might drown!) which supports your body and allows you to float (similar to the water in the Dead Sea) and experience weightlessness. This in turn relaxes your body, helping you to switch off, and be in a similar sort of state of mind to that achieved through meditation.
It felt weird, and I did have moments of panic, envisaging that blissfully unaware I’d miss my cue for the end of my floating session and that someone would have to come in and open the pod, with me naked inside. But thankfully for everyone’s sake my fears were unfounded. You can opt to have the lights on or float in darkness, I fluctuated between the two although my preference was actually with the lights on. And earplugs are also supplied if you want to block out any noise. It did take me a while to try and find a position to lie in that I was comfortable with, but then as Sharps will testify to I do have a tendency to fidget. But once I finally managed to start emptying my brain of noise I began to relax and was enveloped by a calming sensation. The only downside was that I was incredibly hot, but I got round this by opening up the pod to let some air in, as you can float with the lid open or closed. And I failed to hear the ambient music played at the end of the session to signal it’s time to get out (fortunately the lights came on in the room to act as a backup signal to let me know).
The session lasts for an hour and at £40 it’s incredibly good value and a real hidden gem, especially considering that Floatworks is based in central London and that you’d pay in excess of this for a massage. Floating in salt water is said to have various health benefits, it’s thought to relieve stress, jet lag, increase creativity and ease aches and pains. I left Floatworks a tad disorientated but apparently this is totally normal if you’re a virgin floater. And at the same time I was the most relaxed I’ve been in ages – it probably wasn’t until an hour or so later that the benefits fully began to kick in and I felt even more chilled out. Floatworks offer a variety of gift packages, and a session in flotation pod definitely makes for a great present. So much so I may just have to treat myself…