Space City Float Introduces Montrose to “Floatation Therapy”
A few years ago, local entrepreneur Michael Black heard that a health spa in Austin had just introduced a revolutionary new treatment called “floatation therapy;” a deceptively simple concept that involves floating in an enclosed saltwater pod without light or sound. Intrigued, Black drove to Austin to try it out. He emerged from his hour a changed man.
“It was the first time I had gone into a meditative state on my own,” Black remembered. “It was beautiful. I remember getting in my car and driving away. I’m always an aggressive driver, but now I wasn’t bothered by anything. I was just driving along at 30 miles per hour. It was the most tranquil I’d ever been in my life, honestly.”
“Floating,” as it’s popularly known, was invented in California in the 1950s by physician John Lilly, who built the first isolation tank, a dark soundproof tank of warm saltwater. The first commercial float centers began opening in the late 1970s in California, but they suffered from bad timing—as the HIV/AIDS epidemic grew in the 1980s, many people were paranoid about the treatment, and the centers soon went out of business.
Around 2010, however, floatation therapy began making a comeback, and soon spas around the country were purchasing isolation tanks. Unlike their predecessors, which looked something like coffins, the new tanks were big enough to walk into standing up. Articles about floating began appearing in magazines like Time, GQ, and Esquire; ESPN recently reported on the basketball star Stephen Curry going for a float in San Francisco.
Black, 32, was so changed by this popular theory that he set out to open his own: Space City Float. He purchased a commercial building on the corner of Hawthorne and Yupon, and installed four extra-large tanks, each of them 6 feet wide by 8 feet long by 7 feet high. The tanks use a state-of-the-art filtration system that recycles the water six times between each customer—30,000 gallons of water in total.
“The most important thing here is sanitation and cleanliness,” Black emphasized. “We don’t use any chemicals—it’s just hydrogen peroxide and UV light. No chlorine, no ozone, it’s completely chemical-free. Every person’s getting into a brand new salt bath.”
At the beginning of each float, the tank is filled 11 inches deep with 300 gallons of water, mixed with 1,200 pounds of Epsom salt, making the water in the tanks six times more buoyant than the Dead Sea. Both the water and the air are heated to 93 degrees, the temperature of your skin. “You’re not supposed to feel the difference between your body, the water, and the air,” Black explained. “A lot of people describe it as a return to the womb. The point is for you to forget your body and just return to pure thought, pure consciousness.”
Before each float, the customer is treated to a 15-minute full-body massage in one of Space City Float’s zero-gravity massage chairs. Then, they strip down to a robe before being escorted to the float room, where they take a quick shower before stepping into the float tank. After a few minutes, the lights dim, only to go up again after the full hour is passed. If first-time floaters are not comfortable with full sensory deprivation, they can have music piped into the tank from their smart phone.
According to Black, reports from Space City Float’s first customers have been enthusiastic. One, a woman who was seven-months pregnant, said the float had cured a persistent pain in her hip. Another, a man with a cancer in his ankle, said his doctor had recommended he undergo floatation therapy. Afterwards, he reported gaining back a full range of motion. But the treatment isn’t just for those with medical conditions—Black said it’s the perfect way to relieve stress in a world of constant information overload.
“After 15 minutes in the tank, you go into the theta brain wave, a meditative state,” he said. “When you go into that state, that’s the first time our brain is turned off enough to begin scanning our body to find out what’s wrong. But we never get that chance because we’re too distracted in our everyday lives. Especially now with iPhones, everyone’s staring at a screen half the day. So to get in that tank, with no visual, no audio, your brain is finally relaxing for the first time. It’s incredible.”
Space City Float. 1407 Hawthorne St. 713-523-7232. spacecityfloat.com
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Space City Floats was the first floatation therapy center in Houston. It has been updated to reflect that it is the first floatation therapy center in Montrose.