We all have our favourite ways to unwind after the stresses of the day – but floating in a pitch-black tank of salty water had hitherto escaped us as a potential option.
But with the opening of Zero Gravity Float Spa on Stamford New Road (across the road from Altrincham Interchange), all that has changed.
Floatation Therapy is big in America but, aside from a few facilities down south and the very occasional spa up north – there’s just one in Manchester city centre – it hasn’t really caught on here. Yet.
Celebrities including Wayne Rooney, Stephen Curry and Novak Djokovic are said to swear by it, however.
It works like this. Customers pay for the simple pleasure of achieving total sensory deprivation, achieved by spending around an hour in a soundproof pod in a private room with nothing but a shallow bath of warm water heavily infused with Epsom salt.
The result is that the participant – who can be completely naked or, for the less bold, attired in swimming costume – literally floats to the surface. With the pod lid closed (claustrophobics note – a simple tap will open it up), all is totally dark, utterly silent, and surreally wonderful.
As the website blurb quite legitimately notes, you feel like you are floating through outer space and it is indeed “like no other experience on Earth”.
Zero Gravity’s founder Simon Preedy, a 30-year-old originally from Derby, has been floating for a long time and was motivated to find the funding to set up on his own because of the long waiting lists at the only other float spa in the Manchester area.
He floats for one, sometimes two, hours a day and is utterly convinced of the benefits.
“It takes all the pressure off the joints, allows all the muscles to decompress and the spine to decompress and stretch out,” he told us. “But also psychologically, because you’re removing all sensory input, you can switch off and get to quite a deep, relaxing state. Just to switch everything off simultaneously is quite a powerful experience.
“People drift into what’s called the theta brain wave state, which is what people do if they practise meditation for years, but in the tank you can short-cut to that state quite quickly by focusing on your breath. By sticking with it you find that you can get to an extreme level of relaxation.”
Originally devised by an American neuro-scientist in the 1950s, floating is “exploding” in America and is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and the UK.
Zero Gravity opened in July and is already beating targets, and Preedy believes Altrincham is the “perfect” place for it.
“I could see that there was a lot of investment coming into the area and that there was also a bit of a health buzz going on,” he added.
“I’ve been a regular at Yoga Life down the street and so knew for a fact that a health market existed here. We were looking for a property for a very long time but the city centre was a bit too expensive. Altrincham is on the doorstep of Cheshire which is the kind of market we’d like to tap into.”
A single float at Zero Gravity – which is open seven days a week – costs £35 but Altrincham Today readers can get a 15% discount when using the code ‘spaday’ when booking online. It’s also offering an introductory package of £75 for three floats.