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Float Tour 2016 Blog

A Further Trek Into Alberta

Alberta is often called the Texas of Canada. Part large oil industry, part cattle country. Don’t Mess With Alberta!

At the base of the Rocky Mountains, replete with an Olympic Stadium, Calgary is a world-class destination for winter sports. The float community developed here similarly to Edmonton – there wasn’t anything nearby except for one or two residential float tanks, and then, in a short period of time, several centers opened all at once. Instead of competing, they’ve decided to work together and have developed one of the tightest knit float communities we’ve seen. They even have monthly Float Dinners, much like we do with the float centers in Portland. They don’t keep meeting minutes, so it’s hard to determine what they talk about at these dinners; my guess would be salt, the effects of salt on various substances, and how salty salt damage can make someone salty.

While this post is definitely Calgary heavy, I don’t want to discount Red Deer. It’s a beautiful little town with a metropolitan feel, and it’s booming right now as people move in to enjoy the scenic views while not being too close to the city. It also happens to be the home to one of the more well known float centers in the industry: The Float Shack.

Red Deer, Alberta

Population: ~100,000

Number of float centers: 1

Known for: Halfway point between Edmonton and Calgary, next to the Canyon Ski Resort, and home to world class barbeque restaurants (I don’t know if that’s what they’re known for, but it certainly tasted excellent).

In the Floooaaat Shack, Float Shack Baaby…

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The Float Shack

Number of tanks: 3

Years in operation: 2

Tactical Takeaway: Take time to go to concerts, you may find your calling.

Other services: Inversion table

The Float Shack was started by Lance Foss and Matthew Dahrouge. They discovered floating together on a road trip through the Pacific Northwest – they were going to a concert and heard about a local float center in the area called ‘Float On.’ It was booked out, but on their way back home they were able to find a float center in British Columbia to try out. Within a short amount of time, they were opening their center.

They were roommates, best friends, and then they became business partners. They started with two float tanks and, just recently, upgraded to three. Their lobby/lounge has wonderful couches, a telescope, a shack with a library in it (which was a big “Aha!” moment for us)… everything really.

Lance is a host of The Art of the Float Podcast, along with Amy Grimes of Float Nashville and Dylan Schmidt of The Float Shoppe in Portland. They’ve released an episode every week since October of last year. It’s one of the most widely listened to industry podcasts out there (we certainly appreciated it on Float Tour), and Lance has found that it’s becoming more time consuming as it evolves, especially with a full-fledged float center to take care of.

Lance and Matt have poured their hearts and souls into their center, working long hours for months (and years) on end. Watching people come out of the tanks makes it all worth it, though, and they love the freedom of owning their own business. They get to be their own bosses, beholden to no one but themselves. They could even hide little mushroom statues all around their shop if they wanted. I mean, if someone would do such a thing. Not sure why they would… It’s just an example.

Cattle Town’s Float Centers

Calgary, Alberta

Population: ~1.2 million

Number of float centers: 7

Known for: Home of the Calgary Stampede, Canadian Energy industry, and Bruce McCullough.

An Escape From City Life

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Urban Escape

Number of tanks: 2

Years in operation:  1 ½

Tactical Takeaway: Necessity is the mother of invention.

Other services: Just floating

The guys at Urban Escape created a really cool center out of a 1930s adobe house. The multi-level home came with old wood floors. Having such a beautiful space came with a whole host of challenges. The rooms they had in their building didn’t have doors large enough to fit a float tank through them, which meant knocking out a wall to get the tanks in.

After they were finally able to get the tanks in the room, they didn’t have room for the filtration systems. They ran the plumbing into their basement, isolating the pumps from the float rooms. This outside-the-box solution has ultimately allowed for easier maintenance and a more comfortable float experience; it’s also incredibly helpful in dealing with the sound from running the pumps.

After a year and a half, Urban Escape is now starting to outgrow its space and is looking to expand. They have yet to decide whether they’ll be growing their current building or looking for a new space. It’s a challenge either way but, given their ingenuity, whatever they decide should turn out great!

It’s Clear as Day

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Clear

Number of tanks: 5

Years in operation: 1

Tactical Takeaway: The road less travelled has better wifi.

Other services: Just floating

Clear is the most recent float center to open in Calgary. It’s nestled in a hip urban neighborhood with gourmet restaurants and great shopping nearby, providing lots of foot traffic. We visited during their first week of business (they even still had their grand opening sign up).

Bryce started Clear after working in sales for over a decade. He was a skilled salesperson, but the job was very demanding. To deal with the stress of his work, he meditated regularly. He found the practice incredibly helpful and looked for ways to enhance the experience, eventually leading him to floating.

His first floats were at Urban Escape. Once Bryce decided to open his own center, he quickly abandoned his old life, quitting his high paying sales job (he wouldn’t go into details, but he admitted that he could’ve done it a bit more gracefully).

Clear offers guided meditations inside the tank for those that want the assistance finding their floaty, zen center, focusing the design around comfort as well as efficiency. Bryce even invited us into his post-float lounge, tucked away in a little nook behind the float rooms, populated with bean bag chairs, a float library, and drawable walls.

Even just a week in, Bryce loves having his own center. Welcome to the club, Bryce!

Made in Meditation

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Home of Om

Number of tanks: 1

Years in operation: 1 ½

Tactical Takeaway: We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

Other services: Meditation, Trilotherapy, Akashic Readings, Chakra Alignment, Mediumship, Spiritual Assessment, Yoga, lots of retail, many other classes

Home of Om is exactly what it sounds like: a haven for tranquility in the heart of the city. They have found floating to be a wonderful way to enhance their customer’s journey of self-reflection. They have an incredibly diverse retail front for their shop, offering everything a person could need on their meditative journey, as well as a whole host of classes on meditation, yoga, and spiritual enlightenment. While they wouldn’t consider themselves strictly a float center, they do have an absolutely stunning float room. They’ve installed a light display to simulate flying through the Milky Way so that when you come out of your float, you can continue to soar off into the galaxy.

This is the Life

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Float Life

Number of tanks: 5

Years in operation: 2

Tactical Takeaway: Strive for the diplomatic solution to problems, even when it seems hopeless.

Other services: Just floating

Float Life was started up through sheer grit and determination by Isaac and Dustin. They were both listening to Joe Rogan (if not royalties, maybe a consulting fee?) and decided they needed to try it. They hated the experience so much that they decided they needed to open a float center just to prove how bad it is. Wait… No… The opposite of that.

The design of their center evokes a strong sense of natural tranquility. They made their front desk themselves out of layers of stone and their walls are covered with forest scenery, transporting you outside the city.

Float Life has been open for two years, and it hasn’t been without its share of difficulties. They are next door to a chiropractor, whose method involves elevating the table that their patient is on and slamming it back down, over and over again. The concussive force caused by this reverberates through a shared wall and, needless to say, the sounds don’t naturally jive with floating. They’ve found a healthy compromise now, but it’s a good lesson that effective communication with your neighbors is crucial for float centers.

Now that Float Life has grown a bit more, they’ve decided to expand to a second location, opening later this year. If it’s based on Isaac and Dustin’s standards, then it will be a fantastic addition to their brand.

How Many Love?

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One Love

Number of tanks: 2

Years in operation: 3

Tactical Takeaway: Live life fully and create opportunities to explore.

Other services: Just floating

One Love was started by Treeka Drake in 2013. She says that floating found her, because of the profound impact it has had on her life.

She tried floating for the first time in an apartment in Calgary years ago. She had such an amazing experience that she decided to go on a road trip to float at 10 different centers in 10 days. You could say she went on the original Float Tour (although she didn’t bring along a Float Historian to record everything, so it doesn’t count).

The trip brought her through British Columbia and down into Portland. That night, she camped out in front of a random house in Hawthorne. When she stepped out in the morning, the stranger, whose house she parked in front of, knocked on her trailer and offered her coffee. She quickly fell in love with city, found Float on, and became friends with our whole staff.

After returning to Calgary, she started a big move to a new place. She bought a house, specifically looking for something that could be converted, in part, to a float center. Her new basement then became One Love, complete with soundproofing, waterproofing, and a post-float lounge.

Of all the home centers we’ve seen, Treeka’s is arguably the most developed. One Love is an integral part of her life, and she doesn’t want to invite floaters into her business; she wants to invite them into her home. She even created a community garden in her backyard for her members to tend to and enjoy.

Treeka is all about building a broader community. She’s the President of the Canadian Float Collective, dedicated to providing resources to float centers, such as education, regulatory standards, and business support. She also hosts the Calgary float dinners, bringing people together to help each other. Treeka knows, from experience, that everyone can use a hand from time to time, and she wants to make sure that float centers, especially, have all the help they need.

Being a Good Sport While Still Being Salty

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Salt Water Sport & Spa

Number of tanks: 1

Years in operation: 1 ½

Tactical Takeaway: The best things in life are salty.

Other services: Massage, infrared sauna, laser hair removal, botox injections, chemical peels, microdermabrasion

We stopped by Salt Water Sport & Spa and met Zoe Musch, the owner. She has a single At Peace float room that she offers as a supplement to the other services in her spa.

While most of her clients come for beauty services, she loves being able to offer floating as a supplement that sets her apart from other spas. She’s found that floating works really well with infrared sauna and has had success in packaging the two services together.

Zoe loves being a part of the Calgary float community and getting to go to the dinners set up by Treeka. Without those communal meals, she doesn’t think she’d have as much inspiration to continue running the float tank, also known as “that crazy salty monster.”

You Can Float More in Canmore

Canmore, Alberta

Population: ~13,000

Number of float centers: 1 (soon 2)

Known for: Gateway to Banff National Park, hosts of the Rocky Mountain Ski Challenge

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Float Canmore

Number of tanks: 2

Years in operation: 1

Tactical Takeaway: Focus on catering to locals, especially in small communities.

Other services: Massage

Canmore is a small mountain town with a breathtaking view of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in every direction. Hiking trails can be found going directly through the Rockies to Banff. Former apprentice Travis McPhee decided to open Float Canmore, becoming the first to bring floating out to the Banff area.

They’ve only been open since March, but already they’re seeing a decent return. Travis sees floating as the perfect way for the local athletes and tourists to recover from the intense physical activity that the area is known for.

Although we didn’t get a chance to see Travis when we stopped by (apparently trying to call him in the 15 minutes of cell reception we had before we showed up wasn’t enough notice), one of his staff was nice enough to show us around and even point out the awesome trails in the mountains surrounding Canmore.

Just a Couple Issues Left, #25 is coming…

That’s it for Alberta. We’ve felt truly fortunate to be able to be meet all of the wonderful people here. Alberta has some fantastic centers, and is an excellent case study in a thriving float industry that seemingly sprung up overnight.

Now, we must drive through Banff and be forced to take in some of the most majestic sights known to mankind. It will be difficult and harrowing, but, somehow, we’ll find a way.

We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where we’ll share more images from the Float Tour that won’t necessarily make this blog.

See you soon…

 
 

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