GET HCM
magazine
Sign up for the FREE digital edition of HCM magazine and also get the HCM ezine and breaking news email alerts.
Not right now, thanksclose this window
Les Mills
Les Mills
Les Mills
Follow Health Club Management on Twitter Like Health Club Management on Facebook Join the discussion with Health Club Management on LinkedIn Follow Health Club Management on Instagram
UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Floatation: Set adrift

Scientists believe floatation therapy could be a shortcut to meditation and much more than just a relaxation amenity for health clubs. Niamh Madigan dives in to find out more

By Niamh Madigan | Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 8
Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research
Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research
The most important point is to enter into an unperturbed state of consciousness

Anyone who’s ever tried to meditate will know how difficult it is to sit quietly, shut out distractions and go into a state of complete tranquility. In a world where our brains are constantly being primed, there’s little chance to focus inwards. But what if the many widely-reported benefits of meditation could be achieved in another way – by the simple act of floating?

Neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein thinks this is a possibility and says: “floatation creates what I might say is the ultimate environment for focused, internal meditation”. Last year, he set up the Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s one of the first labs to look at the therapeutic benefits of floatation and initial findings indicate that it could be used to treat conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and even anorexia.

What Feinstein and his team are working on could have wider implications for spas. Instead of overlooking floatation pools and pods and thinking of them as an expensive extra just for relaxation, there may be grounds for operators to incorporate them into wellness programmes or use them as a standalone treatment for more serious ailments.

Making sense
Originally called isolation tanks, floatation pools have been around since the 1950s but had little credibility with scientists – not least because studies were often combined with hallucinogens like LSD. But as we move towards an era when mindfulness is being taken more seriously by western society, a number of researchers are trying to provide concrete evidence for the healing benefits of floatation.   

Feinstein first became interested in floatation 10 years ago when studying the brain function of patients with psychiatric conditions such as PTSD, social phobia and drug addiction. His interest was in the concept of interoception. In other words, how the brain senses the internal workings of the body; from the heart beating and blood pulsating to feelings from the gut and the immune system. He believed that disturbances in these body maps were the crux of mental health issues and discovered that floatation can help correct that dysregulation.

He explains: “For the first time in people’s lives, they have a chance to connect with those senses which are being overshadowed and understand who they are a little bit better.” Floating also creates a state of profound relaxation, which is the complete opposite to a state of anxiety.

Research results
Feinstein’s research is still in its early stages and he’s still trying to understand the basic science behind floating and how it so profoundly affects both the brain and the body.
Preliminary studies show a lot of visceral systems are entering into a relaxed state, with a reduction in heart rates, respiratory rates, blood pressure and brain waves. He says: “Most people outside of a float pool average 15 breaths a minute. Without much practice, floating reduces this to about five breaths a minute, which is quite a change.”

He’s just completed the first float fMRI brain imaging study to see what impact the experience has on the amygdala, a part of the brain that plays a key role in the processing of emotions. When the amygdala is over-stimulated it activates our fight or flight response which can trigger stress and anxiety. In the research, 40 healthy people were split into two groups – one enjoyed a 90-minute float, the other control group spent the time relaxing in a reclining chair. Their brain activity was scanned before and after, and fMRI results show that unlike the control relaxation group, the amygdala shut off post-float, causing the body to relax and have a similar effect to anti-anxiety medication and meditation. Feinstein says: “Floating is a great environment to enhance meditation – sensory distractions are minimised and you can really focus inwards.”

In another first, Feinstein is conducting the first float electroencephalogram screening. This allows him to measure the brainwaves of patients during a float by placing a waterproof, wireless device on their foreheads. “We hope to characterise the neural signature of what happens during a float experience,” he says. “Some preliminary results reveal that the brain’s going into a state of deep relaxation.”

Effective experience
Costs for a floatation pool start at around £17,000, plus wet-room conversion prices. But for health clubs thinking of taking the plunge, it’s not just a case of ‘build it and they will come’. It’s about creating the right offering for the most effective experience.

The custom-made flotation pools at Feinstein’s clinic are not encased, which is deliberate. He says: “Some pod-style tanks are very enclosed. They look like coffins and the average person isn’t very excited about trying out floating because of that.”

Instead, his UK-built Floataway pools are 2.5m in diameter and the circular shape creates a self-centering effect for the person floating.

Each pool is filled with 2,000lbs of Epsom salts, which allows the body to effortlessly float and the salts themselves are said to have therapeutic properties.

The water is set at 35?C to match the body’s temperature and the temperature of the air is the same. This creates a unique situation, where the user is no longer able to distinguish the boundaries between air, body and water. A wave of an arm turns the lights on or off and music is played through embedded speakers. “There’s probably a list of about 20 different variables we control in our lab, says Feinstein. “The most important point is to enter into an unperturbed state of consciousness and that’s why it’s important to calibrate the environment so precisely.”

Feinstein believes the perfect length of time for a session is 90 minutes. “It takes about 25 minutes to an hour to fully relax and clear mind chatter, so the idea is to sustain that for a little bit longer,” he says. “In circadian terms, the basic rest activity cycle tends to run in 90 minute increments and we’re finding that it seems to maximise the relaxation response.”

To increase the benefits further, for health clubs with spas, Feinstein feels there are many treatments that complement floating and could be combined with it in packages. Consider acupuncture, massage or alternatively, yoga, pilates or assisted stretching, which help to loosen up muscles before a session and allow the person to maintain a deep stillness during a float.

Floatation renaissance?
Spurred on by a growing interest in mindfulness, it’s possible that there’s a resurgence in floating. The Float Locations directory lists 297 float centres in the US compared to only 85 in 2011, but it’s not able to give accurate figures in Europe yet.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, a number of studies suggest that floatation relieves chronic stress, depression, fibromyalgia and insomnia and the government is now incorporating float therapy into its national healthcare programme.

As for Feinstein, he feels much more research is needed: “My hope is that as more results are published, more and more scientists will get excited about floating and begin to study this as well.”

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
90 minutes is the ideal 
float time as it takes up 
to 25 minutes to clear initial mind chatter
90 minutes is the ideal float time as it takes up to 25 minutes to clear initial mind chatter
Feinstein (third right) and his team are among the first to study floatation
Feinstein (third right) and his team are among the first to study floatation
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/938092_169727.jpg
The science of floatation – How introducing this mindful practice could add a wellness element to your health club and tie in with your mind-body programme.
Niamh Madigan, multimedia journalist and fitness enthusiast,science of floatation, mindful practice, wellness, mind:body programme, Float Clinic, Laureate Institute for Brain Research
HCM magazine
HCM People

Scott O’Shea

Founder, Station Mill
Coming from a personal training background, my experience has taught me that people hire the trainer before the training
HCM magazine
Tracking consumers’ sentiment in relation to lockdowns gives valuable insights into members’ priorities. Leisure-net surveyed the first two UK lockdowns and is currently working on the third. Dave Monkhouse reports on results from the lockdown 2 survey
HCM magazine
HCM People

Adam Tranter

Founder, #Bike is Best and Cycling Marketing Board
If we could get bike journeys up from 2% to 4% it would make a huge impact on emissions, people’s health and mental wellbeing
HCM Magazine
Editor's letter
New research from Public Health England shows that more than 70 per cent of adults want to get healthier in 2021
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Offering red light therapy to your members can create a valuable source of secondary spend, while also supporting them with their recovery and delivering improvements to mobility, circulation and muscle soreness, as Karen Maxwell explains
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Welcome to the world of creative fitness, where exercise and fun merge to change the way we train
HCM Magazine
Research
Stephen Tharrett, co-founder, ClubIntel
HCM Magazine
When Geoff Whitington started to see his life unravel as a result of diabetes, his sons Anthony and Ian gave up their jobs to help him change his lifestyle. This resulted in a new lease of life for all of them. Anthony Whitington, co-creator of BBC documentary, Fixing Dad, speaks to HCM’s Kath Hudson about the journey the family has been on, their mission to inspire others to engage with their health and the launch of new initiative, Fixing Us
HCM Magazine
HCM People
All products have been priced competitively, using Amazon as a benchmark, to ensure the shop can thrive in a competitive market
HCM Magazine
Interview
The duo have joined forces to launch a free virtual ‘couch to exercise’ programme called RISE. They talk to HCM about what they’ve learned from collaborating on Sport Relief and how they’re using this knowledge to deliver the new not-for-profit
HCM Magazine
Latest News
Gyms and leisure centres in Scotland are set to open on 26 April, provided that ...
Latest News
Hundreds of gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres have been forced to close and thousands ...
Latest News
People placing increased emphasis on their physical fitness, the advances made in digital fitness and ...
Latest News
A new guide looks to offer local level practitioners and commissioners – as well as ...
Latest News
What are the effects on public health of gyms and leisure centres being shut during ...
Latest News
Mobile data and analytics provider App Annie has released its State Of Mobile 2021 report, ...
Latest News
The world's largest fitness trade fair, FIBO, has been rescheduled to November. The event will ...
Latest News
PM, Boris Johnson, has confirmed that gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres in England will ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: What does a socially distanced leisure centre and health club look like?
The world has had to get used to social distancing in 2020 and any business operating in the leisure and hospitality sectors has had to face this challenge more than most.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Funxtion collaborates with global experts on white paper exploring digital in the future of fitness
In collaboration with ukactive, FunXtion has driven a global discussion with some of the world’s leading fitness operators and influencers, exploring how digitalisation will influence the delivery of fitness services and products moving forwards.
Video Gallery
CPASE creates unforgettable luxury member experience at new boutique club with Technogym
Technogym
Technogym has equipped Clare Stobart's new boutique health club – CPASE. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Myzone Group Ltd
At Myzone we reward Effort to solve the pervasive problem of ‘diminishing motivation within exercisers’ ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Keiser UK Ltd
Keiser began its history of visionary sports science leadership over 40 years ago, rejecting the ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Egym: Game changer
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Exercise equipment
Pendex Fisio S.L.: Exercise equipment
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
12 Jun 2021
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
13-14 Jun 2021
Online,
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
18-19 Sep 2021
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

features

Floatation: Set adrift

Scientists believe floatation therapy could be a shortcut to meditation and much more than just a relaxation amenity for health clubs. Niamh Madigan dives in to find out more

By Niamh Madigan | Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 8
Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research
Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research
The most important point is to enter into an unperturbed state of consciousness

Anyone who’s ever tried to meditate will know how difficult it is to sit quietly, shut out distractions and go into a state of complete tranquility. In a world where our brains are constantly being primed, there’s little chance to focus inwards. But what if the many widely-reported benefits of meditation could be achieved in another way – by the simple act of floating?

Neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein thinks this is a possibility and says: “floatation creates what I might say is the ultimate environment for focused, internal meditation”. Last year, he set up the Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s one of the first labs to look at the therapeutic benefits of floatation and initial findings indicate that it could be used to treat conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and even anorexia.

What Feinstein and his team are working on could have wider implications for spas. Instead of overlooking floatation pools and pods and thinking of them as an expensive extra just for relaxation, there may be grounds for operators to incorporate them into wellness programmes or use them as a standalone treatment for more serious ailments.

Making sense
Originally called isolation tanks, floatation pools have been around since the 1950s but had little credibility with scientists – not least because studies were often combined with hallucinogens like LSD. But as we move towards an era when mindfulness is being taken more seriously by western society, a number of researchers are trying to provide concrete evidence for the healing benefits of floatation.   

Feinstein first became interested in floatation 10 years ago when studying the brain function of patients with psychiatric conditions such as PTSD, social phobia and drug addiction. His interest was in the concept of interoception. In other words, how the brain senses the internal workings of the body; from the heart beating and blood pulsating to feelings from the gut and the immune system. He believed that disturbances in these body maps were the crux of mental health issues and discovered that floatation can help correct that dysregulation.

He explains: “For the first time in people’s lives, they have a chance to connect with those senses which are being overshadowed and understand who they are a little bit better.” Floating also creates a state of profound relaxation, which is the complete opposite to a state of anxiety.

Research results
Feinstein’s research is still in its early stages and he’s still trying to understand the basic science behind floating and how it so profoundly affects both the brain and the body.
Preliminary studies show a lot of visceral systems are entering into a relaxed state, with a reduction in heart rates, respiratory rates, blood pressure and brain waves. He says: “Most people outside of a float pool average 15 breaths a minute. Without much practice, floating reduces this to about five breaths a minute, which is quite a change.”

He’s just completed the first float fMRI brain imaging study to see what impact the experience has on the amygdala, a part of the brain that plays a key role in the processing of emotions. When the amygdala is over-stimulated it activates our fight or flight response which can trigger stress and anxiety. In the research, 40 healthy people were split into two groups – one enjoyed a 90-minute float, the other control group spent the time relaxing in a reclining chair. Their brain activity was scanned before and after, and fMRI results show that unlike the control relaxation group, the amygdala shut off post-float, causing the body to relax and have a similar effect to anti-anxiety medication and meditation. Feinstein says: “Floating is a great environment to enhance meditation – sensory distractions are minimised and you can really focus inwards.”

In another first, Feinstein is conducting the first float electroencephalogram screening. This allows him to measure the brainwaves of patients during a float by placing a waterproof, wireless device on their foreheads. “We hope to characterise the neural signature of what happens during a float experience,” he says. “Some preliminary results reveal that the brain’s going into a state of deep relaxation.”

Effective experience
Costs for a floatation pool start at around £17,000, plus wet-room conversion prices. But for health clubs thinking of taking the plunge, it’s not just a case of ‘build it and they will come’. It’s about creating the right offering for the most effective experience.

The custom-made flotation pools at Feinstein’s clinic are not encased, which is deliberate. He says: “Some pod-style tanks are very enclosed. They look like coffins and the average person isn’t very excited about trying out floating because of that.”

Instead, his UK-built Floataway pools are 2.5m in diameter and the circular shape creates a self-centering effect for the person floating.

Each pool is filled with 2,000lbs of Epsom salts, which allows the body to effortlessly float and the salts themselves are said to have therapeutic properties.

The water is set at 35?C to match the body’s temperature and the temperature of the air is the same. This creates a unique situation, where the user is no longer able to distinguish the boundaries between air, body and water. A wave of an arm turns the lights on or off and music is played through embedded speakers. “There’s probably a list of about 20 different variables we control in our lab, says Feinstein. “The most important point is to enter into an unperturbed state of consciousness and that’s why it’s important to calibrate the environment so precisely.”

Feinstein believes the perfect length of time for a session is 90 minutes. “It takes about 25 minutes to an hour to fully relax and clear mind chatter, so the idea is to sustain that for a little bit longer,” he says. “In circadian terms, the basic rest activity cycle tends to run in 90 minute increments and we’re finding that it seems to maximise the relaxation response.”

To increase the benefits further, for health clubs with spas, Feinstein feels there are many treatments that complement floating and could be combined with it in packages. Consider acupuncture, massage or alternatively, yoga, pilates or assisted stretching, which help to loosen up muscles before a session and allow the person to maintain a deep stillness during a float.

Floatation renaissance?
Spurred on by a growing interest in mindfulness, it’s possible that there’s a resurgence in floating. The Float Locations directory lists 297 float centres in the US compared to only 85 in 2011, but it’s not able to give accurate figures in Europe yet.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, a number of studies suggest that floatation relieves chronic stress, depression, fibromyalgia and insomnia and the government is now incorporating float therapy into its national healthcare programme.

As for Feinstein, he feels much more research is needed: “My hope is that as more results are published, more and more scientists will get excited about floating and begin to study this as well.”

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
90 minutes is the ideal 
float time as it takes up 
to 25 minutes to clear initial mind chatter
90 minutes is the ideal float time as it takes up to 25 minutes to clear initial mind chatter
Feinstein (third right) and his team are among the first to study floatation
Feinstein (third right) and his team are among the first to study floatation
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/938092_169727.jpg
The science of floatation – How introducing this mindful practice could add a wellness element to your health club and tie in with your mind-body programme.
Niamh Madigan, multimedia journalist and fitness enthusiast,science of floatation, mindful practice, wellness, mind:body programme, Float Clinic, Laureate Institute for Brain Research
Latest News
Gyms and leisure centres in Scotland are set to open on 26 April, provided that ...
Latest News
Hundreds of gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres have been forced to close and thousands ...
Latest News
People placing increased emphasis on their physical fitness, the advances made in digital fitness and ...
Latest News
A new guide looks to offer local level practitioners and commissioners – as well as ...
Latest News
What are the effects on public health of gyms and leisure centres being shut during ...
Latest News
Mobile data and analytics provider App Annie has released its State Of Mobile 2021 report, ...
Latest News
The world's largest fitness trade fair, FIBO, has been rescheduled to November. The event will ...
Latest News
PM, Boris Johnson, has confirmed that gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres in England will ...
Latest News
The re-opening of gyms in Wales has been pushed back by the country's First Minister ...
Latest News
The physical and mental health of women in the UK has been put under unprecedented ...
Latest News
Excess body fat and obesity are likely to have contributed to more deaths in England ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: What does a socially distanced leisure centre and health club look like?
The world has had to get used to social distancing in 2020 and any business operating in the leisure and hospitality sectors has had to face this challenge more than most.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Funxtion collaborates with global experts on white paper exploring digital in the future of fitness
In collaboration with ukactive, FunXtion has driven a global discussion with some of the world’s leading fitness operators and influencers, exploring how digitalisation will influence the delivery of fitness services and products moving forwards.
Video Gallery
CPASE creates unforgettable luxury member experience at new boutique club with Technogym
Technogym
Technogym has equipped Clare Stobart's new boutique health club – CPASE. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Myzone Group Ltd
At Myzone we reward Effort to solve the pervasive problem of ‘diminishing motivation within exercisers’ ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Keiser UK Ltd
Keiser began its history of visionary sports science leadership over 40 years ago, rejecting the ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Egym: Game changer
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Exercise equipment
Pendex Fisio S.L.: Exercise equipment
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
12 Jun 2021
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
13-14 Jun 2021
Online,
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
18-19 Sep 2021
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
Search news, features & products:
Find a supplier:
Les Mills
Les Mills