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(Image: Matthias Tunger)

Floating could be key to a healthier you

How does floating freely in an open pool, buoyed effortlessly by warm Epsom-salt-concentrated water sound? Since I haven't yet had the experience of floating the Dead Sea, I figured Life Float was the next best option.

I had heard about these relaxation floats and had always been intrigued but had NO idea what to expect. Is it like a water coffin? Do I bring a bathing suit? What does it even do?? Being someone who gets bored doing yoga and has a very hard time being still ever, I was a little nervous I'd even be able to do it! Luckily, one of my fears was relieved after realizing these pools don't have a lid like some of the others do, allowing my claustrophobia to stay at bay.

The lovely soft-spoken Life Float employee gave a tour of the room, explaining the process. Walking into a chic and sparkly bathroom with the same approach as someone might talk you through a suite in Vegas, it was weird at first but didn't deter my excitement. The pool was tucked away in the back around the corner and I became increasingly aware of how warm it was in the room. Learning as she continued that the room and the water was all kept at body temperature.

"You'll shower first, wash your hair and body, the lights and ocean sounds will cue you that your pool is ready," (that answered my swim suit question - definitely not needed). The whole experience is on a timer that guides you through the process very purposefully. She then continued to point around the room to various items to aid in the float like earplugs, vaseline for cuts, and mentioned a handful of floating devices were available in case we needed them.

She left me on my own as the filling pool, soft club-like blue lights, wave sounds and relaxing music told me my session was starting. I eagerly jumped in since what girl doesn't want to feel weightless at some (or every) point in her life? The pool was shallower than I originally expected but once I laid down my legs and torso popped right up like a buoy. The tricky part however, was what to do with my head. I have never been a strong swimmer..we're talking still plugging my nose when I jump into waterso I was not used to water in my ears. When I tried to keep my head up, the water level came halfway around my ears and felt like a dozen tiny elves tickling them with feathers. When I'd try to completely submerge them, the water would bubble and feel like it was draining into my brain. Both approaches made me shoot up quickly, changing positions and flopping around much like a fish out of water. Super attractive. I kept shaking my ears out and staring at the wall thinking, how am I supposed to just lay here for an ENTIRE HOUR?

It was then I remembered the small water noodle that could be made available. Hopping out of the pool, I used the intercom to call the attendant who swiftly brought me a perfect neck sized noodle to lay underneath my head. Grabbing the earplugs as well, I figured both of these tools would finally allow me to relax into the experience but I did find myself fighting to quiet my brain and body enough to do so.

I finally got into a comfortable position and was able to find a consistent floating pose. Just in time for ALL the lights and sounds to go off, creating a pitch dark room with absolutely no distractions. I closed my eyes and opened them again to see the same blackness either way. You know those silver spots you see when you go inside from being in the sun? Much like that, I started seeing colorful shapes moving around whether my eyes were closed or not. I felt panic start to rise wondering if I had ingested any strange drugs without my knowledge..but eventually calmed myself down and focused on relaxing.

I lost all sense of time and space. I couldn't tell if I fell asleep or just got used to the extreme darkness. The occasional brush against the pool wall was the only way I knew I wasn't completely floating amongst the clouds. I was slowly introduced back into reality with the familiar blue lighting and wave sounds that signaled the end of the session. A nice perk was finding out there was a make-up room and blow-dryer available post float. This is especially helpful if you have plans afterwards. But much like the gym, if you are going somewhere I'd plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get fully ready before heading out on the town.

I left feeling refreshed and revived. However, I find myself still trying to get some of the salt water out of my ears days later. If I returned, I think each time would get easier and easier to fully melt into the float experience to relax, revive, recover and reconnect.