Would You Pay $90 to Float for an Hour?

 Photo: Reboot Float Spa

Photo: Reboot Float Spa

Disconnecting is a luxury in modern society. I appreciate the 60-minute break from my phone and email during workouts and spa treatments, but—even then—disconnecting is a matter of multi-tasking. When you're floating in dark silence for 60 minutes, however, tuning out the world becomes the sole focus. 

It seems like everyone who's into wellness right now is into floating. So what's the deal?

Floating is a sensory deprivation experience that gives you the chance to turn off completely. Hovering in a solution of Epsom salt and water frees you from the sensation of gravity, temperature, touch, sight and sound. It relieves stress, conserves and redirects energy, calms your mind, and releases tension in your muscles and spine. Some people find that floating leaves them in a euphoric state for days. I'm not one of those, but it is relaxing.  

It's also relatively expensive.

In San Francisco, you currently have three options when you want to float: Zazen ($75) and Reboot ($89) in the Marina, or Float Matrix ($89) in Nob Hill. The service is mostly similar at each spot: you simply float in warm, Epsom-salt filled water for an hour. If you want a longer session, Float Matrix offers 90 minute floats for $119, while Zazen has 90 minute ($110), two-hour ($125) and half-day ($150) options. All three encourage silence and darkness in the floating pod for a true sensory deprivation experience, but you can float with trippy lights and/or ambient music at Reboot.

 Inside the pod. Photo: Reboot Float Spa

Inside the pod. Photo: Reboot Float Spa

Both before and after you float, you're supposed to shower. The pre-float rinse is to remove oils from your skin. The post-float shower is to wash off the salt. (Believe me, you don't want to skimp on the post-float cleanse.) Zazen and Reboot both have showers in the same private room as the float pod, while Float Matrix has a shared showering space and complimentary robes and sandals for traipsing to and from the pod. All three offer discounts for first-time floats and multi-float packages.

When you're in the float pod, there is literally nothing to do. Particularly during your first float, that can be unnerving. Float Matrix does an excellent job detailing the experience in their "first float" synopsis. They explain that most people begin a float intrigued by how easy and pleasant the experience is, and start feeling "fidgety and restless" about 10–20 minutes in. Eventually, the Epsom salt helps you relax, and you "flutter" between waking and sleeping in a conscious dream-state. When your float time is finished, you'll often feel like you've been away for much longer. It's similar to that relaxed, I-just-returned-from-vacation feeling, except you don't have to travel.

So is it worth all the money that your friends are paying to float? That's up to you. If your mind is constantly racing, you should expect the first time will be hard. It will get easier with repeat visits, but it may take two or three tries to feel natural. If you're doing intense workouts, the Epsom salts will help your muscles recover, but you could achieve similar muscular results at home with a far cheaper Epsom salt bath. Here, the real benefit is letting your mind run free. And if work and life are getting to be a little too intense, $89 seems like a small price to pay for an hour to reset.