By Robin Wojtanik
Somewhere between a bath tub, a hot tub and the Dead Sea lie the sensory deprivation tanks at Float Euphoria that allow visitors to float the real world away for up to 90 minutes at a time.
The new wellness spa recently opened in Kennewick in the former Twin Rivers Optical building, next to Skippers. The wellness spa offers floats, massages, cupping and sound therapy.
The float tanks are the only one of their kind in the Tri-Cities, with the next closest option being Spokane. The business is a family affair, operated by married couple, Ryan Wright and Bethany MacLean. Wright’s parents helped with the building’s remodel and will assist with both operation and services.
The space-age looking tubs, called Dream Pods, are filled with warm, salty water dense enough to allow a person to float at the surface, eliminating the pull of gravity.
The hatch door can be closed to immerse the floater in darkness, silence and weightlessness. But those who have claustrophobia may leave it open.
MacLean said people generally visit a float spa for one of three reasons: to seek relaxation, a spiritual or meditative connection, or relief from any of a number of chronic conditions.
Floating prices are on-par with many massage therapy services offered at local spas. Prices start at $65 for a 60-minute float and discounts are offered for combining services or pre-paying for a minimum of three floats.
Despite their futuristic, sleek appearance, the pods were invented long ago, MacLean said.
“They originally started back in the 50s. There was a doctor named John Lilly, who was a neuroscientist. He was originally doing experiments with people in the pods, just studying their reactions. Throughout the years of doing that, they found that there’s huge benefits with fibromyalgia, insomnia, PTSD and even people on the autism spectrum because they don’t have that stimulation that is hard for them.”
A long list of other advertised benefits include enhanced immune function, acceleration of healing from injuries and even a boosting of academic or creative focus.
The pods each contain half a ton of magnesium sulfate, commonly known as Epsom salt, equivalent to a full pallet of 50-pound bags in each pod.
This creates a salinity of 35 percent, slightly higher than the 33.7 percent salinity of the Dead Sea, known as one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water.
The magnesium sulfate is dissolved in water kept at 93.5 degrees. This exact temperature is chosen because it is considered “skin-receptor neutral,” creating a seamless transition from where skin ends and the water begins.
Both the lack of gravity and the immersion in the Epsom salt are promoted as being beneficial to visitors’ bodies. The sheer feeling of weightlessness provides an opportunity to release the typical muscle and joint strain that occurs just from standing, sitting or holding up the head. Physicians may recommend an Epsom salt bath to relieve muscle aches, joint swelling or even relief from a sun burn.
The water is not changed out entirely between each floater, which can raise a concern of cleanliness for some consumers.
MacLean allayed that fear with an explanation of the filtration process: “Between each person it goes through a filter that cleans every drop of water three times. It uses a UV light and then ten micron filter, which is five times smaller than a human hair, so it catches everything. Not to mention it’s salt, so nothing can really grow in the salinity.”
Floats are not scheduled back-to-back to allow for a 20-minute filtration between each visitor, providing an individualized experience in the water.
“A public pool has to use chlorine and bromine to kill the pathogens. We don’t have to worry about that because the salt is a natural disinfectant. We put a little hydrogen peroxide in with the salt and that takes care of it. When you’re in a public pool or hot tub, you’re sharing that water with other people, whereas this water goes through its own filtration system just for you,” said Wright.
Each float suite includes a shower to wash away any products from a visitor’s hair and body. Two buttons inside the pod adjust the lights or sound an alarm if a visitor experiences an emergency. The pods are spacious and do not lock, which are intended to ease feelings of claustrophobia.
Audio options include soft, relaxing music playing throughout the duration of a float, music at just the beginning and the end, or complete silence throughout.
Wright said the pod encourages theta waves in the brain, which is the first stage of sleep. Many people fall asleep during their float, the owners said.
When the float time is up, visitors can use the shower again to remove the salty water from their body. Hot tea then awaits in the lobby to complete the spa experience.
MacLean said it may take up to four visits to truly appreciate the full benefits of floating, though she said one client felt immediate relief from her fibromyalgia after a first float, a freedom from pain she had not experienced in years.
Floats are done in private and the suites are not set up for an experience as a couple. In the future, MacLean and Wright intend to remodel the basement of the building to include float rooms that won’t be enclosed like a pod to allow two people to float together.
Besides floating, additional spa services are available. MacLean and her father-in-law, Danny Wright, are both licensed massage therapists and offer Swedish, deep tissue, sports and hot stone massage.
Danny Wright spent 32 years as a driver for Dial-a-Ride before retiring last year. He became a certified massage therapist more than 15 years ago, and it was through his work as a massage therapist that he met MacLean, and she eventually met and married his son, Ryan.
Danny Wright also studies the practice of sound therapy. He said he has one of the largest collections of tuning forks in the Tri-Cities, using the devices to align frequencies in the human body to promote healthy organ function, positive chakra or psychic atunements.
MacLean also offers cupping therapy, including fire cupping. The procedure uses a suction to drawn skin into a cup, which is said to treat pain and inflammation and may be considered a form of massage.
Read about reporter Robin’s experience in a Dream Pod here.