Floating in San Diego
Population: ~3.1 Million
Float Centers: ~ 8
Known for: Defense/Military industry, biotech, white sandy beaches, the home of Ron Burgundy
San Diego is an interesting city for floating, being politically more conservative than the rest of California, and with more active military members in the city than almost anywhere else in the nation, the demographics are a little different than what we’ve been used to seeing. That said, they have an absolutely vibrant float community that has existed for years.
A Float Tank Solutions Reunion
Number of Tanks: 3
Years in Operation: 1
Tactical takeaways: Invest in a good setup from the beginning. Float North County was designed to function smoothly and avoid salty problems for years to come.
Other Services: Massage
Float North County is home to a couple of the coolest guys in floating: Glenn Stokoe and Bryan Gray. Full disclosure, Glenn is a former float center apprentice and Bryan, while working at Float North County, is also a part of our team at Float Tank Solutions, so we’re probably a little biased about how cool they are, but we’ll try and prove it to you.
Despite being open for less than a year, Bryan and Glenn decided to float 30 times in 30 days and record the results. They got brain scans beforehand to check the activity and track if any changes could have taken place. Brain scans, aren’t cheap, but thanks to the help of a neurologist who loves the tanks, and for the sake of floating itself, they decided to go along with it.
The idea was simple:
- Get the scans before floating once a day for 30 days;
- Float once a day for 30 days;
- Get post-float brain scans to see those delicious, tangible scientific results.
The neurologists at the testing center could track brain activity that was associated with mental disorders, so Bryan and Glenn got a huge, multi-page list of potential problem areas. The scans showed activity and correlated it with the brain activity in those with severe mental disorders to find similarities – which, with only one point of data, ends up being a really long and scary list. Nothing like doing some research only to find out you’ve potentially got Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder.
The especially useful thing here is that you could see if these problem areas were diminished or amplified from floating once you got the post-floating results. Pretty cool, right?
Unfortunately, after they floated diligently for 30 days, their appointment at the testing center fell through. One of the lab techs was incredibly ill and they couldn’t run the machine, and the 2nd test never happened. As anyone who’s done a middle school science experiment knows, you can’t extrapolate results from incomplete data, so the experiment, sadly, doesn’t have a satisfying ending for those of us who like closure (or the scientific method).
Fortunately, all this means is that Bryan and Glenn will need to start the whole process over, which they’re more than willing to do. As Glenn put it, “most things, if you do it a lot, you get kinda tired of it, but with floating, I just wanted to do it more.”
And while it’s not scientific evidence, they both noticed distinct improvements in their moods, behavior, overall health & wellness, and ability to sleep. So, was it worth it? For them: a resounding “yes”. Keep it up, guys. I can’t wait to see how the second experiment goes!
Making New Friends
Number of Tanks: 3
Years in Operation: 8
Tactical takeaways: A rising tide raises all boats. This is especially true in the float industry, and Float Spa San Diego has proved it.
Other Services: Just floating.
We were very excited to meet Mark at Float Spa San Diego. Although we didn’t know Mark at the start of this trip, he’s quickly become a friend. The closer we got to San Diego, the more stories we heard about Mark: he helped Matt at Float Experience install a tank, he built a tank himself for another center, and literally the day before we visited Float North County, Mark had been there helping them re-grout their floors. He sounded like a genuinely caring guy, and we had to make sure we met him on Float Tour.
When we got to his center, he welcomed all of us with a hug and eagerly showed us around his 3 tank center. He was in the middle of upgrading his pump system, after installing a new tank at another location had inspired him to upgrade his own center.
Mark shared his story about getting into floating: it started back in the 80s when he had been suffering chronic knee and back pain for years. He learned about floating as a modality that might give him some relief, and he found someone in the San Diego area who had a tank in his house. He went there for a while until that guy ended up moving, but later in life found his way back to the tanks and in 2008 opened his own center.
The craziest part of that story (for us, at least) is that the man who introduced him to floating is none other than Christopher Messer, one of the co-founders of Float On. Which I think unofficially makes Float Spa San Diego our sister center (at least by abstract float genealogy).
It was inspirational to see the spirit of this young industry, which Mark embodied: he has made a habit of propping up all the float centers around him, not just his own. If someone springs a leak, he’s there to help patch it; if someone’s pump goes out, he’s there to help fix it. His logic is simple: if everyone in the float industry looks good, then floating will be more appealing to everyone. That, and he’s just a super nice guy.
We’ll be back…
Number of Tanks: 2
Years in Operation: 2
Tactical takeaways: To be continued…
Other Services: Infrared Sauna
This was the first center we stopped at on Float Tour with multiple locations in different states. Unfortunately, when we stopped by their San Diego location they were closed for regular maintenance, but I thought it was worth mentioning because so few centers have multiple locations and many owners are actively thinking about opening up new centers. We also got a kick out of the fact that they took our “Fuck Gravity” ad and turned it into a huge poster that they plastered on their window.
Look for more info in the next post. In the meantime, you can check them out at floatsanctuary.com.
Floating in Palm Desert
Population: ~ 50,500
Float Centers: 2
Average age of centers: 2 months
When we were planning this trip, Palm Desert wasn’t on our list of cities to visit. We were going to head straight from San Diego to Las Vegas. As we travelled though, we saw that Palm Desert had two distinct float centers.
How did we miss that?
It was only a little out of our way, so we decided to check it out. It turns out that the reason we missed it was that both of the centers in Palm Desert opened in the last two months. Palm Desert is an affluent area, and the main draw is tourism and retreats. A nice combination of factors out in the desert for floating.
The Newest Center in Palm Desert…
Number of Tanks: 6
Time in Operation: 1 month
Tactical takeaways: Mike did most of the construction himself, significantly reducing his build out cost. Even if you’re not a builder, take a thorough inventory of your own resources and make the most out of them.
Other Services: Massage & Floating
Meeting Mike at Desert Serenity was like getting to taste pure, raw enthusiasm (and if you’ve ever met Graham and Ashkahn, that’s saying something). This guy goes a mile a minute and when you’re around him, you’re along for the ride. Not only is this center brand new, but they opened big with 6 tanks in a large facility.
They definitely hit their share of snags in the opening process (as seems to be the case for new centers in general, although the specifics always differ). The building they went with wasn’t the first one they found. The owner of their first location backed out a month before they planned to open so they had to scramble to find a different location.
While it’s not on the main strip, it’s not far off and it’s a much bigger location. Given the importance of sound proofing, it’s not a bad trade off at all. Even after that was sorted, they had delays from their tank manufacturer, which we hear about all too often, unfortunately (in an industry where products are made to order, it can be difficult to meet with demand and hit well-intentioned deadlines).
Impressively, even with those set backs, they opened only two months behind schedule, which speaks volumes to their tenacity. It certainly helps that Mike did most of the construction himself, and it turned out beautifully. We wish them the best of luck, and hope to see them again in Portland for the Float Conference!
The First Center in Palm Desert (by a week!)
Number of Tanks: 1
Time in Operation: 2 months
Tactical takeaways: It takes serious dedication to move overseas and open a wellness center in the middle of the desert. Launching into a massive project like this is intimidating for anyone even in the best case scenario, nevermind flying over from England to get it done.
Other Services: Eastern & Western Massage, Facial treatments, yoga, personal training, meditation, chiropractic.
When we visited Mot’us the first thing that Elizabeth, the owner, mentioned was that she doesn’t normally dress like this. She had an interview for the local news right after our meeting, and she was a little nervous about it.
At the beginning of this year, Palm Desert had zero float centers. Now it has two. That they both opened within a week of each other was kind of remarkable. Certainly, given that Mot’us is a full wellness center differentiates it from Desert Serenity that’s just a short drive away. With yoga classes and a chiropractor on staff, they’re unlike a lot of the designated centers we’ve visited so far. It’s got a complete gym and offers physical therapy and training programs.
For Mot’us, floating was a natural fit into their goal of offering a complete wellness solution and getting at the root of health issues instead of simply treating symptoms. Anyone who has extended experience in the tanks can attest, floating is an incredibly helpful tool for that.
Camping in Landers
Float Centers: 1/2
Average age of centers: 0
Noted for: Future Home of Landers Float Camp
A Float Camp (in progress)
One of our former apprentices, Chris Barker, left us to go out to the desert. His goal is to build a retreat designed around floating so people can find a secluded spot to commune after their float experience, hopefully turning it into a richer experience than you can find elsewhere. We can say definitively that he nailed the secluded part, and we’re eager to see how it all comes together so we can go back and visit again!
Landers Float Camp was our first stop to a center that isn’t even built yet, but the idea of what Chris is doing was so interesting, we just had to go check it out. Here you can see pictures of his sweet vintage trailer that doubles as his office and post float lounge, some of his plans, and his adorable daughter following Graham around on the phone.
Issue #7 is coming up…
With Landers Float Camp, we wrap up our California trip and head into Nevada and New Mexico. So far we’ve seen lots of old friends and familiar faces. Many of the centers we’ve visited have been closer in proximity, and as we begin our travels through the middle of the country, float centers get spread further apart. Many of the upcoming posts will span several states at once… and we’re looking forward to it!
Our traveling 2-Day Float Tour Apprenticeship and 1-Day Advanced Workshop has confirmed four cities and dates where you can learn how to start and run a float tank center. New York City and Toronto were packed full of future float center owners. Chicago and Calgary are coming up quickly, if you’re interested in knowing more about any of the Float Tour events, conveniently enough, we have a website for that: TheFloatTour.com.
See you in issue #7…