From the broadsheets to Hollywood, floating has become more and more a part of mainstream consciousness in 2016. We’ve seen new centres popping up around the country (ourselves included!), TV series that give a nod to the isolation tank and even Olympic medallists shouting its benefits. Meanwhile, everyone from Buzzfeed to the BBC have dipped their toes in the pod in the last 12 months. Here’s a look back at a banner year for the floating community.
On the surface, we have modern media’s curiosity to thank for exposure in social media timelines. Back in February, Buzzfeed sent a trio of floating newbies to Floatlab in California to document their experiences, and quite a few others followed suit.
Later in the year, The Independent sent their writer Christopher Hooton down to Vauxhall to try his hand at floating here at Floatworks (you can read his kind words here).
Most of the articles we’ve seen this year have been from first-time floaters, and the general consensus has been it wasn’t what they expected… but it was intriguing enough to try again. And that certainly hooks people in!
In his Independent article, Christopher Hooton said: “In terms of it being a voyage of cerebral discovery, a second float might be required where I’m less focused on the novelty of it. For anyone interested in rolling down the speedometer on their brain I’d definitely recommend giving floating a try.”
Want to know just how much floating has grown in the last few years? One Aaron Thompson who runs Floatation Locations, an online directory of float centres, states that while in 2011 there were only 85 across the United States, there are now 250.
But why the explosion in popularity throughout 2016?
Of course, floating can be a perfect accompaniment to treatment for everything from anxiety, to depression, to sports injuries – and as the public in general have become more health-conscious in the last few years, mental health awareness has especially come to the fore. The Vice Guide To Mental Health certainly played a part in this, as did the likes of Lady Gaga and Kid Cudi very publicly sharing their experiences. It all builds towards a culture of people being more ready to find ways to look after their mind, as well as their body.
I wrote a letter sharing my experience w/ PTSD. I want 2 help others understand what it is + how to get or give help https://t.co/7wmuvNLcT5— xoxo, Joanne (@ladygaga) 7 December 2016
Behind the scenes, one Justin Feinstein has been doing some incredible work to show the benefits of floating on the brain.
Just this year, he opened the world’s first ‘float lab’: the Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma (okay, it’s a mouthful!).
It’s still in its early days, but so far, Feinstein’s research has found evidence that floating has stress-relieving qualities that rival some prescription medication, and even meditation.
“Essentially what we found in the preliminary data is that the amygdala is shutting off post-float,” Feinstein tells TIME. “It’s nice to see that can be done in a way that doesn’t require medication.”
You can find out more about Feinstein’s research in the fascinating lecture below or in this fantastic TIME article.
Of course, we have some high profile floaters to thank for shouting about their experiences. GB Paralympics gold-medallist Susie Rogers used floating (right here at Floatworks) ahead of Rio 2016 to calm her anxiety about the competition:
“Before and during competitions I don’t sleep well but that first night I slept quite well and that hour in the tank was so relaxing it’s almost like a nice sleep,” she told us in the autumn. “It almost tops your sleep up. I liken it to putting a phone on charge – you’re charging yourself up.”
And it certainly doesn’t hurt when a name like Zac Efron snaps a ‘Gram of himself in the pod…!
A photo posted by Zac Efron (@zacefron) on
One thing we’ve found from all the lovely faces that pop into the centre, and leave messages in our guestbook? They’re looking for a way to shut off from the world. As technology becomes a more constant presence and pressure in our lives, an hour in the tank offers that escape like nothing else.
Wondering what all the fuss is about? Check out our latest floating offers to find out firsthand how floating can positively impact your life…
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