Last week, I got the chance to experience a brand new dimension in relaxation and weightlessness at Float Zero, Cape Town’s first dedicated float spa. As it turns out, flotation therapy is a pretty established way to de-stress both body and mind, and it comes with a myriad of purported benefits. From the deep relaxation that comes with sensory deprivation, to the release of musculoskeletal tension, and even mental clarity. And it’s slowly making strides in the fitness circles as it provides swift recovery without any physical pressure on your muscles.
When you arrive at Float Zero, you may be a little surprised to find this quiet, yet chic space tucked away in the ultra-glam 15 on Orange Hotel precinct. Geometric art motifs reign supreme, merged with rich neutral tones and minimalist accents of glass and metal for an understated luxe decor mood. Founder Marco Carvalhos gave me a quick introduction on the concept, the history, and what to expect. Carvalhos also shared his colourful journey with floating abroad, and his inspiration to introduce locals to this niche form.
As I’m led to a private float room (there’s 4 of them in the centre), a futuristic float pod awaits, glowing away in mellowing technicolours. Eleven and her sensory deprivation sequence in Stranger Things immediately came to mind. These state-of-the-art models are hands down the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of float tanks. It’s surprisingly spacious enough to allow for a couple to comfortably unwind in the pod. And, if confined spaces aren’t your thing, you can totally float with the lid wide open. Robyn, a float therapist, calmly ran over the nitty-gritty and explained that the Epsom salt solution is heated to body temperature, with just enough water so that you’ll always be floating a few inches from the base.
After a few minutes of settling in, I was comfortable enough to close the pod and turn off the coloured lights. Tranquil music soothed me into the float (it switches off after a bit), and to explore the rare sensational floating on the salty, extremely buoyant water was heavenly. It is a strange sensation to drift in complete darkness and silence, and feel the lightness of your body, but it’s something to be experienced! Time just seemed to pass by and before I knew it, the calming music resumed again, indicating that the session was over.
The folks at Float Zero reckon it takes about 3 sessions to get used to the whole idea of flotation and to really be able to sink into that pure trance state. And that’s a perfect reason to take them up on their introductory offer. But once my session wrapped up, I noticed an instant relief around my head, neck and shoulder area, also known as the tension triangle or stress zone. To that end, floating therapy should perhaps come highly recommended for those seeking a break from the daily rat-race as well.
After my float I was ushered to the comfy Post Float Relaxation Lounge to regroup on the session. Much care has gone into curating the finer details of the overall floating experience. Carvalhos even went the extra mile to collaborate with local tea fundi, Mingwei Tsai from Nigiro, to develop three distinctly unique herbal teas. These include a faintly fermented yet nuanced Green Tea blend, a beautiful hand stitched Jasmine flower from Taiwan, which delivers a brew that taste as amazing as it looks, and a heady amalgamation of red fruits. It seems the concept behind the cosy relaxation lounge, the attentive staff, the collection of custom teas, is purely to fine-tune an entire holistic experience into a pampering treat instead of an errand or chore.
Benn van der Westhuizen
Visit Float Zero’s website to book your floating experience. The studio is currently running an introductory promotion for May 2018 – book 1 session and receive 2 floats on the house. Terms and Conditions apply.