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.


H-Town Run Tourist Reminisce

The Best Walk I Ever Had

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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

I was having a conversation with a couple of people at Berryhill in River Oaks. (By the way, have you tried Berryhill's margaritas? They are so strong. Just sayin). We were talking about running. If you are wondering why these conversations keep happening to me, it is no accident. I often just show up to random places and put people in a position where they have to react. I like to spruce it up, so to speak. Never a dull moment with me.


Anyway, they were saying that they had tried running before, but hated it. They had never got to the point where they could just let their brain let go. Many people ask me how I could run a marathon. I always say because I love to think and reminisce, iterate, and dream. On my run today, I had a great memory. I'll tell you about it.

I had just arrived in Beijing, China. It was a long flight. I flew Air China. I was told that they were the worst airline, mainly because of the food. Man, was it true. I was served frozen food that was still frozen. I decided to just eat the Starburst that I got form the duty-free shop the rest of the flight. What a great way to fuel for the race. See what I mean about anything and everything happening before the race.

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When we got to Beijing, the airport had no lights or AC in the section that we were in. We had to stand in line for an hour to go through customs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not negative, but it is hard to deal with culture shock when I am hungry and sleep deprived.

Finally, I arrived at my hotel. I went up to my room. I ordered some Pizza Hut. Yes, my first meal in China was some Pizza Hut. I had no choice. We would only stay there tonight and tomorrow the would be off to the Great Wall to inspect it. We were staying at a hotel next to the wall. We had to travel two hours to get there. I was ready to get this party started.

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After we boarded the bus, I found my seat next to this gentleman from California. His name was Paul. We had a great time getting to know each other. It made the two hour drive really short. I looked out of the window to take in the Chinese countryside. the bus comes to a stop. We had arrived to our hotel.

After getting settled in my room, I took a hot shower. I put on my white linen pants and white off the shoulder top. I put on some fresh makeup and decided to take a walk. I wanted to get an idea of this town and where I was.

I left out the back of the hotel. When I got to the road, I decided to go straight. I had seen some birds in cages. Everyone who knows me knows that I love birds. I went to check them out. I saw a couple of shops and restaurants before heading towards the fountain at the end of the long road. There was a lot of people collected at the fountain. I wanted to see what was up.

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When I got to the fountain, I began to understand that everyone was staring at me. It became uncomfortable, so I decided to turn back around. The people crowded there were couples that seemed to be waiting for something. Then, I understood exactly what they were waiting for. I saw a long line of children on bicycles and on foot going down the road to connect with their parents.

This seems really ordinary, but something was different about this experience. The children were staring at me and the other arrivals with their mouths wide open. They stared, only barely blinking in disbelief. I looked back at their parents and they were doing the same. The entire town was staring at me and the other runners. Since, I came alone. I walked alone. I stopped and collected myself before I continued. Like lifting weights or like any other workout, I wanted to have good form. I tightened up my core, puffed my chest out, straightened out my back and rolled my shoulders back and proceeded to back to the hotel.

I kept my eyes forward. My chin up and kept on walking. And yeah, It was really strange to be stared at like that, but I couldn't help but think what they must be think about the newcomers in their town. It was truly a walk to remember. And by the way, I totally recommend the great Wall Marathon is a one of a kind adventure of a lifetime. Thank you for following me down this trip down memory lane.


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