Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
Ashkahn went to China and brought another one of the owners of Float On along, Jake. The two of them share their experiences of visiting the Chinese Float Conference this year and learning about all of the developments in the Chinese float industry, which seems to have exploded in just the last couple of years.
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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Ashkahn: All right, welcome everybody. My name is Ashkahn.
Jake: And I am Jake.
Ashkahn: Whoa, whoa! Got something crazy going on here today.
Jake: What is happening here?
Ashkahn: So yeah, we’re doing a little something different, I feel like it needs a soundboard with one of those record scratch. That’s what I would play right there. I am here with Jake, one of the other owners of Float On and we’re Graham-less today because Jake and I recently went on a little adventure over to China for a Chinese float conference. So we thought we’d do a special little episode, no question, there is no question this time, this is just us sharing some fun stories with you. So yeah, welcome Jake.
Jake: Thank you very much for having me, this is one of the things I’ve been looking forward to for most of my life.
Ashkahn: Yeah right, long time listener, first time host.
Jake: Long time listener, first time, yeah.
Ashkahn: Excellent, so let’s give a little backstory here. We just very recently found out there is some float activity happening over in China.
Jake: We thought, up to this point, that there’s basically no activity happening.
Ashkahn: We hadn’t heard very much, we heard a few float centers opening, we had a few people come to our float conference from China, that were kind of developing some stuff there, but in general we were a little bit unaware of exactly what was going on there.
Jake: It wasn’t for lack of trying, we asked around, we weren’t getting a lot of information, and we decided we had to go ourselves to find out.
Ashkahn: It turns out the language barrier can actually be pretty significant. So what we found out is basically just a few months ago, so this is, I think, the end of October, the beginning of November last year, 2017, that an actual association, a float association, formed over there in China. That association decided to put on a small conference, a first little event that they had and that was just at the end of January. We got in touch with them, really just a few weeks beforehand, and decided it just sounded too crazy to not go to China and see what was going on over there.
Jake: How could we not go to the inaugural Chinese Float Tank Association’s conference with a couple hundred people in attendance? It was too exciting to pass up, really.
Ashkahn: Yeah, so we got ourselves some visas and we flew our way over there.
Jake: That’s a process. Visas.
Ashkahn: Yeah, it was actually way crazier than I thought it would be there. Go to such a large country, you have to actually send your passport to one of five specific geographical offices spread throughout the United States. So that was intense, but we did it. We got it all figured out. We flew over there and found out a lot of interesting stuff. The association over there is actually part of … A lot of other associations kind of have these umbrella structures. This is us trying to piece together as much as we could, but it seems like their association is under the guidance of other kind of medical associations. All associations in China seem to be registered with the actually government over there.
Jake: Yeah, kind of under the purview of the government, they are definitely involved in every association happening there.
Ashkahn: So the different association board members, or I think they had them as kind of like vice presidents or exactly what the terminology is, were often a lot of people from various medical fields, like the actually president of the association is a professor over there. There was other people who ran hospitals and were different members of the medical industry.
Jake: Yeah, floating seems to be taking a slightly different path than it is here in the US. I mean, the first “float center” that we visited was at a fertility clinic in a basement of a hospital, actually.
Ashkahn: Yeah, and it was really cool. It was apparently a famous fertility clinic throughout China, in Beijing, where people would fly into. They got a float tank installed maybe six months ago, six months before we were there. They were actually running people through it, in addition to some of the other things they were using there as part of their methods of increasing fertility, float tanks kind of built their way into part of their process.
Jake: We saw that consistency across a lot of the float centers there, the goal was definitely the improvement of the self, it was something more than just going to float. The conference was held in Hefei, about 900 miles from Beijing into Inner China. We got to take a bullet train, that was pretty amazing.
Ashkahn: That was pretty great.
Jake: That was pretty cool. The first center we visited over there, again, focused on medicine, Eastern medicine, but they had a lot of equipment, one center had an MRI machine, for example.
Ashkahn: Yeah, it was actually really interesting, like what we would think of a typical float center here in the US, with this retail storefront, and people just casually making reservations, and coming in for whatever, leisure, stress relief, whatever they are coming in to float themselves for. We saw a little bit of that, but not nearly on the same scale as some of the other things we were seeing happening over there. Which included things like float tanks in a hospital, a fertility clinic, or float tanks on their path to being integrated with the police force there, or there was a retirement facility that focused on therapy, as well as actual therapeutic stuff for the people living in their facilities.
Jake: Yeah, senior citizens living at the facilities.
Ashkahn: They were starting to integrate float tanks into their locations. I think they had maybe like 40 locations currently and they had installed a float tank into eight of them so far.
Jake: Which kind of just blew our mind, just how many float tanks are actually running around China. I mean, we heard a lot of different numbers, it was hard to verify, but yeah, a lot more tanks than we had previously thought.
Ashkahn: Again, this is all through a language barrier and some translation, so hopefully we got all this information actually correct, but there might be some slight confusion in any part of this. It seems like right now there is maybe a thousand float tanks spread throughout various facilities and stuff like that, throughout China, and they are on the path towards a lot more.
Jake: Yeah, there are a couple manufacturers popping up other there, again, one of them hosting us as well, and some franchise startups that are really … They have some lofty goals, high aspirations, including a float hotel, or as Ashkahn likes to call it …
Ashkahn: The Floatel, yeah. So it is not built yet, they told us they were in the works on making something of that, which sounds amazing.
Jake: Only in one year is their goal, as well. So we’ll have to go back next year to check it out.
Ashkahn: Yeah, and stay there. So it was really cool. I got the impression that things were heating up in just the last few years. Somewhere around 2013/2014, the first bits of float stuff started happening there. Really in the last couple of years did things start to pick up and other places open, and other business looking into opening float tanks with all of these various applications.
Jake: Yeah, China is definitely opening up in many senses of the word.
Ashkahn: The conference itself was really fun, like Jake said, there were about 200 people there, a lot of them seemed to be aspiring float center owners. The talks were, well, we could only really make out so much, they were all in Mandarin.
Jake: We had to rely heavily on our translator.
Ashkahn: So we had a translator, but really we only got the broad strokes, I think, of what each person was presenting on. But again, there was someone who was the head of the parent association, that kind of higher up medical association, that gave a talk about integrating float tanks into medicine. Someone gave a talk about trying to get float tanks integrated into their actual psychology education, university psychology education, like actually writing it into their next version of textbooks.
Jake: One guy was working with the sports authority to try to get floating involved with Olympic teams coming up.
Ashkahn: They were all very aware of Steph Curry and his love of floating and that was definitely a very, very kind of …
Jake: Definitely it was one of the first things people brought up.
Ashkahn: Yeah, like pictures of him in magazines. They have a float magazine, which was really awesome to see.
Jake: Yeah, amazing.
Ashkahn: Also, entirely in Mandarin, so I can-
Jake: But we have it.
Ashkahn: We can just look at the pictures.
Jake: We have it and we are going to try to translate it.
Ashkahn: It was really cool, they were giving talks on … I think even been some Chinese research done with float tanks, and again, a lot of talks about their future plans of integrating it with athletics, integrating it with the medical field, integrating it with youth education, too, seemed to be another category they were really interested in.
Jake: Yeah, I thought that was super interesting. I mean, they used to have the one child policy, so what we’ve heard, speaking with a lot of people over there, is that parents would put a lot of energy and a lot of support into that one child, because the market is just so competitive. The education market as well is so competitive, so some people over there really believe floating can help a lot of these students de-stress, especially around their large exam times and everything, which it makes sense, yeah.
Ashkahn: So a lot of upcoming plans that we’ll check back in on and see how that stuff is developing, but at least so far it seems like there are a few franchises in the works. There seem to be somewhere between four and six manufacturers …
Jake: Yeah, in various stages.
Ashkahn: … making float tanks for various purposes and stuff like that. They seem to be in the process of trying to, as an association, maybe develop some standards for the different kinds of fields they’re looking to go into. Like one standard for athletics, another one for the retirement homes, and various things like that.
Jake: It seems to have promise. They received a couple sizable donations during the conference to help their association get up and running, which was pretty impressive. I’m kind of showing how dedicated to floating some of the people are there.
Ashkahn: Yeah, they all seem very much to be really interested in floating and how much it could help people. They’re all really kind, we had a great time while we were there.
Ashkahn: Had a bunch of fun and palling around.
Jake: Delicious food.
Ashkahn: So, it was very cool. It was exciting, it was exciting to see a whole nother part of the world, and what is going on there that is both the same and very different than what is happening here in the English speaking world. I guess we’ll follow up, in probably a year’s time we’ll …
Jake: Once the Floatel opens.
Ashkahn: Once the Floatel opens.
Jake: After we stay at the Floatel, we’ll let you guys know. A candid review of that Floatel.
Ashkahn: Yeah, so it’s something to keep an eye on and see what the development is like there, but definitely a lot of interested people, and a lot of interesting float tanks, and a lot of facilities actually getting up and running and getting float tanks installed, and people floating. Cool.
Jake: Yeah, and thank you for … No, I had a great time, thank you for also having me on the show to chat about China and we’ll tell you guys about it next year as well.
Ashkahn: Yeah, definitely, if you want to check out the float association in China’s website, it’s floatchina.org. It’s also entirely in Mandarin, so you can use Google Translate for parts of it.
Jake: For parts of it.
Ashkahn: Yeah, if you guys have questions that you want to ask us during the regular programming of this show, you can always hop over to floattanksolutions.com/podcast. We’ll talk to you guys later.
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