The Ultimate in Relaxation: Float OKC & Drift Therapeutic Spa together in Norman
In the hustle and bustle of the ever busy modern age, we could all use more ways to relax and unwind. Norman just recently got a new way to help everyone do just that. Neal Smock, owner of Float OKC, has chosen Norman for his second location, which just recently has opened its doors. But not only that, he has partnered up with Michelle Garrett, owner of Drift Therapeutic Spa, who are now both in one location at 480 24th Ave NW Suite 120. Together, float therapy and massage therapy, offers you the ultimate in relaxation services to help melt away the stress of everyday life.
Although now there are a handful around the state, Smock opened Oklahoma’s very first float therapy center in Edmond, Oklahoma just shy of three years ago, in the hopes of both making Oklahoma more aware of the benefits of floating as well as creating a floating community in the state. An interesting fact is that Tulsa is home to the nation’s only float research center, located at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. This facility tests and researches the effects of floating on a multitude of ailments, and studies the brain’s reactions to the therapy. I personally love that Oklahoma is leading the way for this research.
The original Float OKC shop in Edmond has been seeing an increase of business in the last year, having to turn away customers during busy times, which is obviously something that they don’t want to do. A solution to this problem was to open a second facility, which they have excitedly done.
“I think that the primary thing is that Norman is just built for something like this. Even when we opened Edmond, it was kind of between Edmond and Norman. Edmond is just where I lived so it felt more comfortable to do that, but I always felt like Norman was always the better bet. I just feel like just the personality of the city, the vibe of the city, just kind of fit in with floating and would do well. So that’s why I jumped into it,” Said Smock.
So what is float therapy exactly? In a nutshell you are laying down and floating in a sensory deprivation tank filled with about 10 inches of body temperature water that has roughly 900 pounds of Epsom salts dissolved into it. Although you do have the option of leaving the lights on and piping in your choice of music, the real idea is a complete sensory deprivation experience. The salt makes you buoyant as you float on top of the water, and also offers many different health benefits as well. The high levels of magnesium in the Epsom salt help ease muscle, joint and lower back pain, increase circulation and lower blood pressure just to name a few, and those are just some of the physical benefits. The fact that floating creates an almost gravity free type environment also relieves pressure off of your joints and muscles, truly giving them the chance to fully relax and recharge. Floating also helps combat chronic headaches. But the mental and emotional benefits are really the things that are fascinating when it comes to sensory deprivation.
When you deprive your brain of external stimuli, it can actually generate its own. In fact, parts of your visual field tend to light up in strange shapes, which can eventually change into more complex and recognizable patterns such as dots, lines and grated sequences. With brain imagining techniques, scientists have been able to capture the brain basis of these interesting visual hallucinations during sensory deprivation. It’s been found in these studies that the visual cortex actually becomes more active after less than an hour of visual deprivation. Visual reactions aren’t the only sense capable of doing this during sensory deprivation, there can be auditory hallucinations as well. Some people experience a type of faint music that the brain creates on its own, others just interesting noises. When you give your brain a rest from taking in so much stimuli, it gives it a much needed break to not only create its own stimulus, but also the chance to explore different lines of thinking that you may never take the time to do when you stay busy and active. This is much like what the brain does during sleep and meditation as well. It can also be a very spiritual experience for some. The different ways your brain will react to the therapy, as well as the mental and emotional benefits, vary greatly from person to person depending on your frame of mind and what you are trying to experience. The key is to be open to whatever your mind wants to do, and not try to force it or steer it in any one direction.
There have been many other studies done on float therapy that have also concluded that float sessions allow people to generate more ideas, as well as more creative ones. Floating also has been found to increase student’s scores on standardized tests used to measure creativity, as well as enhance performances in a variety of athletic and musical tasks that require high levels of concentration and hand-eye coordination. Floating has also been found to give relief to those who suffer from post-traumatic-stress disorder as well as anxiety. With all of the different benefits, why wouldn’t anyone want to give it a whirl?
“Just have an open mind about it, it’s something that’s very new to some people even in the places as open minded as Norman. It is a relaxing experience and not something to be afraid of, definitely something to try, something that’s really good to have in your life and help balance you out and keep you calm,” said Smock on his advice to people about floating.
Although the Edmond facility started with the traditional float pods, which are much more enclosed, they have also added a float cabin which is much more expansive. The Norman facility only has the float cabins available. I have floated in both of them, and although they are different experiences, I don’t personally find that one is better in terms of quality of float, just different. I’ve heard many people say that they would be claustrophobic in the smaller pods, which the cabins are the obvious solution to this problem. But I also think that for those that have a fear of enclosed spaces, that if you throw away the pre-conceived notion that you will be scared to be enclosed and just give it a try, you would be surprised by just how open it really feels in the pod once the sensory deprivation takes place. It feels like you are floating in space, or what I would imagine that to feel like.
The staff at Float OKC have always been helpful and friendly. They take you into the float room and explain everything, answer all of your questions and make sure that your experience is the best that it can be. I have always been highly impressed with the level of care and customer service that every staff member that I have ever interacted with there has displayed. They make you feel comfortable and welcome.
But what’s special about the new Norman facility, is that it pairs float therapy with massage therapy as well. Drift Therapeutic Spa originally opened in April of last year in another location in Norman, but decided to partner with Float OKC and share the new facility. Drift offers several different varieties of massage, including a more unusual one.
“I think the service that we’re most notable for is Ashiatsu, and it’s a massage modality where we use our feet as the massage tool which is generally a deep tissue massage. It’s very luxurious just as a traditional Swedish massage would be but it allows us to use a lot more pressure because it allows us to use a lot more body weight and gravity to get that pressure,” explained owner Garrett.
Garrett and the other therapists at Drift who perform Ashiatsu have all been specially trained to do so. Ashiatsu dates back as far as the 12th century, and literally translates into foot pressure. The origins of this technique can be traced back to ancient India, China, Japan and other Asian countries. The therapist uses their bare feet to massage and manipulate the muscles, it is deeper than a typical deep tissue massage, but also feels much like the relaxing Swedish massage. It is said to be the deep tissue massage without the pain. Ashiatsu massage is considered less stressful to the body because the pressure from the feet is spread out over a wider area than it would be if applied by the fingers or hands. Drift also offers traditional Swedish and deep tissue massages, along with hot stone and aromatherapy.
“I think one of the things that I’m most proud of with this spa is that we pay a great deal of attention to all the supplies that we get as much as possible, we try to use locally sourced artwork and pottery and things like that, and as far as the massage services themselves we use all organize oils from Mountain Reserves so we know that its ethically sourced. So I think that’s one of the things that I’m most proud of about how we do things differently,” said Garrett.
The Norman facility is decorate in artwork from local artists, and features local health and wellness products for sale, as well as complimentary teas on hand for enjoyment after your float or massage that have all been provided by local companies. It’s a very comfortable and inviting atmosphere overall, beautifully yet simply furnished and decorated. Float OKC and Drift will be hosting an open house soon for everyone to come tour the facility and ask any questions that they may have. They will provide refreshments and special packages during that time, so stay plugged into their website and social media pages to find out when that will be.
“I think that because we offer something that you can’t get anywhere else, the combination of floatation therapy and massage that we provide is really the best form of relaxation that you can get and just to be able to come to that state has so many health benefits emotionally and physically. I think allowing people to take control of their own maintenance of their health is really a powerful thing,” said Garrett.
I personally started floating at Float OKC just two months after they opened. I gave a float to myself as a Christmas gift in December 0f 2014, and immediately joined their monthly floating membership. As a single mother of three kids, two of them being teenagers, floating is my happy place. To me it’s like a giant reset button. If you’d like to find out more about my own personal experience with floating, stay tuned for the launch of the Float OKC blog, where I will be doing a piece on my personal floating experiences and the benefits I have experienced.
We here at LittleOkieLand are also giving 2 lucky winners a chance to go check it all out. We are giving away one free float and one free massage. You have to go check out the LittleOkieLand social media pages (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) for more information on how you can win! Drawing will be held on Monday August 28.