Floating – tank, dome, or pool?

A recent discussion in a Wellness Facebook Group has triggered my deeper interest in floating. 

I have done some floating session in the past, including in facilities such as a kind of hotel pool (that was rather noisy and not really enhancing relaxation), a floating dome (very nice and private), a floating tub (floating to my heart beat in Vienna), yet never before in a floating tank. So which one is best, floating tank, dome, or pool?

Thus I am grateful for the invitation by m•float in Munich, a day spa offering not only floating session in tank or pool, but also massages and more.

m•float is located right by the famous Isartor, one of Munich’s well known landmarks, the southern gateway to the city centre and shopping miles.

This is a very busy and noisy area and I am surprised to enter a hidden courtyard through the passage of an old building. The heavy walls shield all street noise and stress. I can well picture this lovely little corner being a paradise in summer when in full blossom. But even now in winter on a rather grey day, this courtyard is an oasis of nature and tranquility.

floating tank

Getting ready

Lovely Melanie welcomes me in the cute m•float reception area and talks me through the treatment protocol. Today I am to float in the tank!

All I need to do is take off my coat and shoes and I am escorted to the high ceiling floating room, which resembles a huge bathroom including shower, toilet, sink and … of course the floating tank. 

Melanie asks me to take a shower prior to entering the floating tank, and points out 4 buttons inside the tank, explaining their functions.

I also learn that once I have closed the tank’s lid, a timer of 60 minutes is started, the duration of my floating session. Afterwards the tank will open up automatically, calling me back to the real world.

My first impression: the water has a lovely temperature, about 35.5 degrees Celsius, which reflects human skin temperature.

i am a little nervous, as I occasionally have issues with claustrophobia. How am I going to deal inside this tank once closed?

I take a few minutes to familiarise myself, and start playing with the 4 buttons: one for (underwater) music, one for three small red LED lights, one to close/open the tank’s lid, and a panic button (happy to confirm that it works, as I have used it by mistake, which triggered Melanie immediately to check on me).

floating tank

I then close the lid and am surprised that the dome is rather high, I do not feel tight at all. 

What about claustrophobia whilst floating in the tank?

When I later ask the question, Melanie explains: “I recommend people to try the tank, even if they suffer from claustrophobia. When the light goes off, boundaries melt and one looses the sensation of being in a small space. And many guests confirm after their first floating session that they have had prejudices at first.
Yet if someone really hesitates, we usually recommend a floating session in the pool, which is more spacious as it is suitable for 2 people and hence makes a lovely couple treatment experience too. The pool is also almost ceiling high.
The difference to the tank however is that the experience is much more intense and private in the tank due to the ultimate reduction of stimuli and seclusion. Some people also compare it to a womb like experience.”

The first few minutes inside the tank, I feel a little restless. I push myself back and forth, simply using my fingertips and toes to push myself from the tank’s walls. The gliding movements help me to calm down.

floating tank

Hygiene matters

The water has a funny texture. Very soft and heavy, almost oily, it has a very high saturation in salt and thus keeps my body effortlessly buoyant. 

I later on learn from Melanie that the water has an 80% magnesium sulphate saturation. The magnesium sulphate (not the same as the salt in your kitchen cupboard) is also available for purchase and home use, however at home in the bathtub one would have a hard time achieving the same salt concentration.

floating tank

The brine in m•float’s tank and pool takes a few days to be ready for use and hence stays in tank and pool for a while. In order to comply with hygiene standards, small amounts of chlorine are added.

Additionally the water is filtered in a 20 minute process after each customer, and continuously throughout the night with particle and UV filters.

Note to self: remind me next time not to touch my eyes with these saltwater fingers! A thick crust of salt remains on the skin. And do definitely not touch your lips. I tastes horrible…

Ultimate reduction of stimuli

After a while in the tank, boundaries of my body and mind dissolve. I can hear the soft underwater music, my heartbeat, my blood rushing through my veins… nothing else. I can no longer tell which parts of my body are submerged and which aren’t. I no longer touch the walls of the tank and hence get a feeling of floating in a wide open ocean.

I must have drifted away into sleep, come in and out of it and wake up after a while by myself, well rested. I then decide to open the lid for some air, and enjoy the remaining minutes of my session still lying in the tank to come back and fully wake up.

What I notice first: unlike on a day by the sea, my hair and skin are not dry at all! I don’t even have those little wrinkles on my fingertips, which is surprising after having been lying in warm water for an hour.

I get out and take a nice long shower, rinsing my hair and skin from the salt. A great variety of natural skin care products (hair care, skin care, deodorant etc) by brand Lavera are provided for my convenience.

floating tank

Floating is great for those who do not like massages 

A single floating session is a great experience, however frequent treatment only makes for sustainable support of deep relaxation, health and wellbeing. 

Floating seems to be popular with business people fighting stress, flight attendants combating jet lag, or people suffering from back pain. Floating is also a great treatment for those who do not like massages or being touched in general.

m•float offers packages (such as a combination of floating and massage) and series not only seasonal but also to returning customers.

m•float’s gifts vouchers are highly popular too, combined with spa@home products, available in their online shop.

Would you like to offer floating in your Spa? Any comments?

Anja Eva Keller Spa & Wellness Consulting