The Float Center Brings Floatation Therapy to Gainesville
North America’s newest avant garde cure, floatation therapy, will be making its way to Gainesville.
The Float Center, located at 109 SE 4 Ave., is expected to be opening its doors in late 2017 or early 2018 and will be the first and only center in Gainesville. Currently, the nearest float centers are located in Orlando and Jacksonville.
Floatation therapy, also known as sensory deprivation, allows users to float effortlessly in buoyant, skin-temperature water while inside a sound and lightproof tank.
Over 800 pounds of epsom salt allow users to weightlessly float for sessions typically ranging from 60 to 90 minutes.
Free of outside stimuli, users are able to experience a variety of benefits ranging from heightened senses and creativity to a deeper sleep, pain relief and intense relaxation comparable to meditation.
Mathew Chandler, owner of the future Float Center and of Aurora Healing Arts, a meditation center in downtown Gainesville, will be beginning fundraising efforts through an Indiegogo online campaign at the March 18 launch party to help finance the $130,000 project.
Chandler, who first floated three years ago in Orlando at Total Zen Float, found floatation therapy in the midst of pursuing two master’s degrees, working full time and spearheading his first startup business.
“I found myself overworked and stressed to the max. I was in desperate need of some relaxation and relief,” said Chandler. “I found floating and I was hooked.”
“I feel sharper, more energized and more creative than ever before,” he said. “My experience was so profound, I knew I had to bring this to Gainesville.”
Using his architectural background, Chandler has designed the center to be sustainable and fully solar-powered. The Float Center will utilize repurposed shipping containers to house modern, state-of-the-art float pods and will also feature a cafe and a deck.
“Imagine relaxing in your own, private ocean,” said Chandler. “Without any sensory information for your brain to process, your parasympathetic nervous system activates, promoting healing, increased learning capacity and the ultimate in relaxation.”
As the research around floating continues to grow, the mind and body benefits are making waves in the medical, scientific, athletic and psychiatric community.
Research has indicated that floatation therapy has aided those with stress-related disorders like hypertension, headaches, insomnia and rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with chronic pain reported lower levels of perceived pain and deeper, more restful sleep.
With high-profile athletes like Stephen Curry and Joe Rogan pronouncing floatation therapy’s many benefits, Chandler believes floating will aid in muscle recovery for athletes, provide relief for those with physical ailments and will allow for deeper meditation for yoga practitioners.
Floating also aids in stress management and creates a heightened sense of creativity for business people, entrepreneurs and students.
“It’s a wonderful tool for mind, body and soul and we believe the benefits will attract all kinds of people,” he said.
Martin Gawlak, campaign manager of The Float Center and friend of Chandler’s, became involved with the project as a result of their constant sharing of ideas.
“Eventually, Chandler realized that The Float Center was not just a crazy, bold idea, but also an achievable goal,” said Gawlak. “Since I am only interested in projects that are either bold or will directly help people, the campaign was a good fit for me. And since the actual likelihood of it being successful was such an important, enormous challenge, I signed up.”
“Floating actually helps keep my ego in check. I work very hard and very hard at remaining humble,” said Gawlak of the experience.
“When I float, the voices in my head get quiet and the physical tension in my body starts talking to me. It reminds me to slow down before I fall down,” he said.
“I don’t understand why floating has been around so long but not yet as popular as having a drink at the end of the week,” said Gawlak, calling sensory deprivation the potential “electric car” of the wellness industry.
John Lievonen, a sophomore and journalism major at the University of Florida, first heard of floatation therapy through a recommendation while planning a trip to Chicago, but felt the pricing, which typically ranges from $60 to $100, was out of range for most college students.
While Lievonen has not yet had the opportunity to float, he plans on doing so in the future.
“Later, I was listening to a podcast and they did a whole hour on floating,” said Lievonen. “It amplified the mysterious serenity of the experience for me and I was hooked.”
“I think it would be incredible to have a floating center here. I feel as though one of the issues with floating is the lack of availability,” he said.
Lievonen believes the reception by the community in Gainesville will be positive initially due to the unknown qualities of floating.
“The key is going to be the long-term interest,” he said. “It will be a good test of the floating market to see if, in the long term, The Center attracts college students or if it is sustained by long term members of the community.”
“I believe floating will be a niche activity for a few more years but if it does get increased national attention, it could emulate recent trends such as yoga,” he said. “The main challenge the industry must face is cost.”
In the future, Gawlak hopes to see both lives changed by floating in the future and more centers being created.
“I want to see past the exit of the float rooms and into the streets of Gainesville where people will be running faster and speaking more positively,” he said. “I want to see competing float options pop-up to help service more people in town and elsewhere.”
To learn more about floatation therapy, check out The Float Center’s website and read the Float On blog series.
To become a part of brining floating to Gainesville, check out The Float Center’s launch party this Saturday, March 18 and view the event page here.