Floating off the Jersey Shore
The Garden State houses probably the highest concentration of float tanks on the East Coast. Jersey is a gateway to the major metropolitan areas nearby: New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. This convenience has made Jersey the suburban hub for every major industry on the East Coast for generations, giving it the highest population density of any state in the U.S. This is fantastic for the float industry; if there’s one statistic that correlates with successful float centers, it’s population density.
It does come with its own unique challenges, though. Once we got into Jersey, we really started hearing from float centers about the cynical attitude that the East Coast is known for. They tend to be a bit skeptical and quick to judge any alternative wellness as snake oil. This can make getting people in the door challenging. We’ve heard from centers that they couldn’t even give their floats away because no one will accept them, assuming it’s some sort of trick.
While they may have a harder time getting first time floaters in the tank, after they float they seem pretty inclined to return and spread the word. Although, to be fair, Jersey was the first time on tour where we actually saw someone get out of a tank, shake their head, say it wasn’t for them, and head out the door.
Hills of Cherry
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Number of float centers: 1
Known for: Cherry Hill is the location where Harold and Kumar finally go to get White Castle, however, there is no White Castle in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Now I’m beginning to wonder what else in that movie wasn’t real.
We have a special kinship with Float South New Jersey: their name was originally going to be Float On. When they found out there was already a “Float On” they were super nice about it and went with the name Float South New Jersey (Float SNJ) instead. The parallels don’t end there, either. Graham, Ashkahn and Sean all bonded over the fact that both centers started with black floors before realizing how horrible that was for float centers.
We also got to talk to him about making custom built rooms, and the lengthy trial and error it takes to get them perfect. But he really knew his stuff. They built three float rooms themselves, getting custom fiberglass tubs and creating the heating and spa packs for each one. They’re all themed slightly differently too: The Galaxy, The Grotto, and Water World. The theme determines the color of the rooms, the tanks, and a light display built into their shower heads. The end result is a beautifully crafted suite with spacious float rooms.
Editor’s Note: I want you to go to their website if you haven’t already. Take a look at their logo. You should see it on the homepage. The “O” in Float looks like an eye with purple and teal swirls. You see it? Excellent. Now, I’m not pointing fingers, but sometime after our visit to Float SNJ someone managed to put a bumper sticker on our Minister Winchester of that eyeball. I’m not saying it was definitely Float SNJ, but if it was, I want them to send us another sticker for my briefcase. It can be posted to J.T. Howard ℅ Float On 4530 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215.
Just a Few Townships Over…
Bedminster, New Jersey
Number of float centers: 1
Ken at Quantum Floats opened just under a year ago – a modest 3-tank center in a medical complex, seated in between dentists and family practitioners. It’s a little too small for his current ambitions, though, and he’s already broken ground on what will be a 10 tank center up the road from his current space (which will make it one of the largest centers in North America).
He really hit the jackpot with his temporary location. Before this space was Quantum Floats, it was a massage parlor with three rooms that all had built-in showers. Meaning the rooms were already waterproofed. And since he won’t be in the space long enough to worry about salt damage, the buildout remained pretty uncomplicated.
Ken is also a practicing corporate lawyer, dealing with high level clients that end up having serious disputes between corporate contracts. Recently, he’s been moving towards helping his clients address issues by getting them into the float tank. It’s hard to argue that many of the issues in corporate litigation couldn’t be solved with a bit of self-reflection by one or both parties. He gave the real world example of an employer who was upset at his employee taking interviews at a competing business. The traditional response might be something like drafting a new contract with a non-compete clause, but after Ken got his client in the float tank, he saw that the issue was more complex and instead decided to create a more enjoyable workplace for that employee and by extension everyone else. Whatever his methods, we’re happy that Ken’s getting people into tanks who otherwise probably wouldn’t have the opportunity.
It’s Pronounced “Carnie’…
Kearny, New Jersey
Number of float centers: 1
Serene Dreams has been open for three years now. James Saad opened up right next door to his brothers dental practice; part of the family owned complex. They went into this venture together. He had plans to expand his center to a second story, but found out that the ceiling was one foot too low. Now he’s got to raise it in order to expand.
James found floating in 2010 when studying at Oxford. He went to Floatworks in London and was absolutely blown away. He was compelled to share this experience so he had his brother, Nadim, fly out and try it. Nadim has dealt with chronic lower back and leg pain for years and was hoping to find some relief. The benefits were instantaneous. His pain was completely gone and stayed gone for weeks. In disbelief, they started researching to figure out what was happening in the tanks.
In 2010, there weren’t any float centers in New Jersey, and the brothers were resolved to find a way to bring floating home. This started the lengthy and arduous process of opening a center – an ambition that took nearly three years to realize. Since no one had done it before, the New Jersey Health Department didn’t know how to classify or regulate float tanks, and even something as simple as getting a business license proved to be a drawn out chore.
It all worked out, though. In August of 2013, Serene Dreams opened its doors and has been sharing salty miracles with Kearny ever since.
James was incredibly generous while we were in New York and helped us find a place to park our fair Minister Winchester while we went to Manhattan for three days. He even provided a sweet suite in case we needed it. Thank you, James! Your hospitality was incredible. We don’t even want to imagine what driving an RV through New York would’ve been like.
Not to be Confused with ‘Ocean City’ (or ‘Ocean Grove’), New Jersey
Ocean, New Jersey
Number of float centers: 1
Peter Cheney at The Float Studio has built himself a cozy little setup. His street is home to a bunch of different alternative wellness practitioners, from acupuncturists to yoga studios. Peter Cheney was raised here but moved to Colorado, which is where he became intimately acquainted with floating. Initially, he wasn’t thinking about moving back, but when he decided to open a float center, he knew that New Jersey was the place to do it.
Once he launched, it was a bit of an uphill battle even getting people in the doors. They’re about a mile away from TAO Massage which has had a float tank in Asbury, New Jersey for nearly a decade. Their customers felt that coming to The Float Studio would’ve been betraying TAO somehow. He, of course, didn’t press them, but also didn’t see an issue. People who want to float should float, wherever they’re most comfortable doing so. He developed a rapport early on with TAO, and they actively encouraged people to go to Pete when they were booked up. After a little while, that relationship blossomed and they’ve helped build a wellness community in the area that props each other up.
One story about Peter that I think really illustrates the kind of guy he is: we were trying to buy change from him for the toll roads in New Jersey. He pulled out a giant ziploc bag of coins, started rifling through it, counting out change but quickly getting frustrated, and eventually he just started shoveling handfuls of coins at us (well over the $10 we gave him). “Counting change is stupid” is all he said about it, but I think his point was well made.
This was definitely a stop we had to make. Aaron and Dan run the Floatation Locations site: one of the largest directories for floatation on the internet. It’s a resource that we’ve been using pretty heavily during our trip to find centers. So if we didn’t stop by you, there’s a 70% chance it’s because we didn’t see you on their site.
While they don’t run a float center, they’re still incredibly passionate about getting people to float. For them, their website is the best tool they have to do that. They don’t charge for their basic listing, instead offering additional advertising if someone purchases a package. They also have a list of resources like manufacturers and complimentary services if developing float centers are looking for ideas. They’re thrilled by the growth of the industry, and glad to do their part to help guide it along.
They’re also old friends of Graham, Ashkahn, and Jake, and are a total blast to hang out with. We spent another long night together laughing and telling stories until we nearly passed out from sheer exhaustion. Thanks boys! It was a great time as always.
Issue #15 is not far away…
That’s it for New Jersey, and the last of our stops before we went into our New York Workshops. From here, we’ll visit a couple different centers around New York before travelling up the northernmost parts of the East Coast.
We were surprised by New Jersey a little bit. It may be unfair to say, but we kind of expected people to be a bit more like the stereotypes: materialistic and selfish. What we experienced couldn’t be farther from the truth. We were absolutely overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity from everyone we visited. In fact, everyone we met was aggressively generous – a combination of traits we’re simply not accustomed to seeing on the West Coast. Thank you all so much for everything!
Until issue #15…