Float away to rest and relaxation

New float spas can help you relax and unwind

Heard about the "float" craze? It has been slowly growing over the past few years, and one local float spa in Houston was featured on Shark Tank last year. "Floating" has actually been around since about the mid 1950's. Floatation therapy is based on a scientific approach to a deep relaxation called Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique, or R.E.S.T. Dr. John Lily originally created floatation therapy tanks and called them "sensory deprivation tanks, or isolation tanks."

These sensory deprivation tanks became more popular between the 60's and 70's but lost popularity after it became publicly known that Dr. Lily used a lot of psychedelic drugs. Well, they are back, in a unique form. Most sensory deprivation/relaxation spa's are now using giant white pods, more futuristic like. And inside there is plenty of room for you and even a few others (not recommended). But to give you an idea there is plenty of room between you, the water, and the ceiling; and over 8 ft. from head to toe. So what is it, people ask? The general idea is marketed as a way for people to relax and unwind. Floating in a flotation tank triggers a deep relaxation response, much deeper than normal sleep. It enables people to drift into an elusive theta state, which normally is hard to achieve. I received a gift card for my birthday to "Urban Float," a new float place in Heights, and decided to check it out!

During floating, the idea is to relax your brain, body, and soul. Since you are typically in about a 1000 lbs. of Epsom salt (dissolved into water), you will float to the top and won't have to expend any physical energy to float. You're changing your stimuli by releasing everything, every piece of energy your body would normally put out (even just sitting down). In the tank your mind will start to wonder off. Some will problem solve, learn, or swirl into creative paths; while others will meditate, rest, or even fall asleep.

The float sessions I have seen range anywhere from 60-90 minutes. I did a 60-minute session and fell asleep both times. The experience of coming out of a float is supposed to sharpen you senses, have a refreshed mind, and the world may appear more vibrant. Now, I am a glass full type of girl, however I am not sure it sharpened my senses or the world appeared with rainbows and unicorns. However, I did feel much more at peace, and was relaxed and calm for the rest of the day. I have also read it may take a float or 2, to really start reaping the benefits. At this point I have done 2 floats, so I'm sure if I were to continue, maybe then it would sharpen my senses, or I would maybe be seeing unicorns pooping rainbows.

For first time floaters or anyone on the fence about trying it out (which I do recommend) here are a few tips. For starters, remember you are in a ton of Epsom salt infused water. So, if you've knicked yourself shaving prior to floating… well, it will sting. However, they do provide petroleum jelly for any small knicks or cuts, and when applied the jelly will act as a band aid in the salt water. They do recommend for any bigger cuts or burns, to wait to float, (or tough it out, your choice). When you first arrive, the float spa had me watch about a 5 minutes video on "how to float". Really, it's just information on pre/post showers, where the panic button is, etc. You also get to choose some fancy relaxation music, or you can choose none.

I chose music the whole time. I didn't want my brain to start wondering about my "to-do" list I didn't finish at work, or all the errands I still had to run and when I was going to run them. It is quiet, the rooms are sound proof, and they provide you with ear plugs. You have an option to turn off the light inside, I tried this, and it got a little creepy. However, everyone is different. I am the type of person that can sleep with lights on, some people cannot. My biggest concern was if the water was going to be cold. Thankfully it was not, and did not change the entire hour. Float spas typically keep the water between 90-95 degrees in temperature, and you are pretty much in a savasana yoga pose the whole time. Initially I felt my head hanging a little heavy, so I used the neck float both times. The neck float is provided for you in the pod. Also, in the pod is a spray bottle with fresh water, for when you get salt in your eye, and more than likely you will. But just spray the fresh water and you'll be fine, or if you are not panic button it is.

They say that the effects of floating lasts for hours to days afterwards and have the potential to last much longer. However, I believe I felt it for the rest of the day, then the next day when I went back to work, I had no idea where that relaxation went. Interesting enough, as I left I spoke to someone who goes every day (unlimited package). He explained it as much more than just going to float, but more so of as his daily meditation practice. In the end it was a great experience both times, I wish I could go everyday to practice meditation, but 24 hours in a day is against me. I would definitely recommend everyone to try it at least once.


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5 bucket list races that make 'Merica great

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

Last week, I wrote about some of the world's best bucket list marathon and half marathons. But, what about here in the United States? We got some great places to explore on foot like our National Parks, Wine Country, and let's not forget our southern most state, Hawaii. So, I've made a list of marathons and half marathons to honor some of America's best bucket list destinations.

Red Rock trails​

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Zion National Park Marathon

Zion National Park, Utah

February 20, 2020

It's a steady climb to the road to Zion. This race starts and ends in Springdale, Utah. Runners travel along the Watchman trail to carefully arrive at the mouth of Zion Canyon. Runners can stop and take in the breath-taking views of of cold snow canyons and snow capped cliffs. Better hurry and register because this race sells out every year.

Race fit for a Disney Princess

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Disney Wine and Dine Marathon

Orlando, Florida

November 3, 2020

This popular race takes place on Walt Disney World Resort. Runners get to run wild through the theme park. Make sure to bring your camera for this novelty race. It is perfect for the Mickey and Donald Duck lovers. Stop and take your picture with your favorite Disney characters every mile. This marathon is great to walk and trot to the finish line which is a food and wine festival fit for a prince…or…..princess or……a fairy………or a cricket.

Get hitched on this marathon course.

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Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon

Las Vegas, Nevada

November 16-17, 2020

The Rock and Roll race series really out did themselves with this one. Have you ever wanted to dress as Elvis or a Cirque Du Soleil character, listen to your favorite rock band, and run down the Las Vegas Strip at night? Me, too! This race is definitely on my bucket list. There is so much packed in that it takes an entire weekend. This marathon is literally a night race down the Las Vegas Strip. You get to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of Vegas. You can even get married on course at Mile 3. Bands play at every mile of the race to keep you pumped up. A Rock and Roll race would not be right if it didn't start with a pre-race performance from headliner Kesha. Can I say #StripAtNight?

Run the rolling hills of wine.​

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Napa Valley Half Marathon

Napa Valley, California

March 1, 2020

This is known as the "biggest little marathon in the west." This picturesque course starts at the Silverado Trail from Calistoga and ends in Napa Valley. Runners run past the vineyards and wineries. It is the perfect tour of wine country. This race is not just wine. This road race is a Boston Qualifier. You will truly want to Run.Sip.Savor.

Fun in the sun.

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Honolulu Marathon

Honolulu, Ohau

December 8, 2019

Run in paradise in our southern most state. Sandy beaches, tropical flowers, and palm trees. Kick off the weekend with a luau complete with male and female hula dancers. The 5am start is no hardship with a spectacular fireworks show. The run up Diamond Head Crator is a challenge, but well worth it. You get to experience the laid-back attitude of Hawaiians. It's come one, come all for this race. Everyone and their mama, grandpa, whoever else comes out. There is no time limit or limit of participants. Fun in the sun.

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