Floating Across New Mexico and Oklahoma
Albuquerque – New Mexico
Population: ~903K (including the surrounding area)
Float Centers: 1
Known for: The Rio Grande, in the top 10 places to live in the US, has a whole Weird Al song named after it.
The desert is vast and the sun is harsh, but it doesn’t deter floating. We’re officially off the beaten path: from here, the float centers have become a bit more spread out. Everywhere we go, however, the people continue to be kind and eager to see us.
Everything from Arizona to Texas is nestled in between some of the major manufacturers in the United States, providing access to resources that many other areas don’t have. With the high cost of building out a float center, being able to save on shipping costs can be a tremendous boon to people just getting started in the industry.
Enlighten Others – Albuquerque, NM
Number of Tanks: 2
Years in Operation: 5
Tactical takeaways: When you base your business on kindness, you end up surrounding yourself with delightful human beings.
Other Services: Yoga, massage, manufacturing
An insurance building turned float center and yoga studio, Enlighten Others has been bringing alternative wellness to Albuquerque for several years. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit the owners, but we did get to see their custom built tanks with retro style wood paneling on the sides.
The float attendant we met there, Josh, has been working there for 3 years and floating for about 6. He started hopping in the tanks when he was only 16 and fell in love with the practice. For him, it’s all about creating mental clarity for himself. He loves being able to cultivate a space for others seeking self-growth and exploration.
Los Alamos – New Mexico
Float Centers: 1
Known for: Home of the Manhattan Project assembly plant. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? Well, maybe you did.
Catching up with another apprentice…
Float Los Alamos – Los Alamos, NM
Number of Tanks: 2
Years in Operation: 1
Tactical takeaways: Introducing new ideas to small communities doesn’t have to be scary, although you should be prepared to be ‘The Float Person’ in your community.
Other Services: Just floating, unless you count the super cool massage chair in the lobby
Carlos Cassias is another Float Tank Solutions apprentice. He’s worked very hard since coming to Portland to open his own float tank center, Float Los Alamos.
New Mexico hasn’t really had much experience with float tanks yet, so the Health Department here falls into the habit of classifying them as a pool, leading to some confusing and sometimes seemingly arbitrary regulations being enforced. Any center that’s been through this knows what we mean; there are several states that take a similar position, and it can be an uphill battle. Carlos had many back and forth conversations with the state prior to opening, educating them on what sort of rules would make sense for a float center and ultimately getting approved (without even needing to put life preservers up in the room).
Carlos was apprehensive about opening in a small town, worried that people wouldn’t really take to floating. Instead, it’s been just the opposite; since the community is smaller, word of mouth spread quickly. He never really expected opening a center to change his identity, and he was surprised when people at the bar down the street started calling him “the float guy”. That said, he’s happy to fill the role, sharing what he knows with other folks around town and introducing them to floating.
May the power of the Yum Yum be with you Carlos, and guide you to silliness and prosperity!
Oklahoma, You’re OK!
Home to Jay Shurley, John C. Lilly’s partner in sensory deprivation research, Oklahoma is the historical motherland of float tanks and their research. Although Shurley and Lilly became more distant over time, Jay did continue his own work on sensory deprivation independently well into the 70s.
Tulsa is now home to the only major research center doing any studies on floating in the world at the moment. The Laureate Institute of Brain Research (LIBR) has two float tanks in clinically controlled environments that they use to conduct research, headed by Dr. Justin Feinstein.
Oklahoma City – Oklahoma
Float Centers: Just one for now.
Known for: Oil industry, agriculture, very flat horizons
Bringing the Float Thunder to OKC…
Float OKC – Oklahoma City, OK
Number of Tanks: 4
Years in Operation: 1
Tactical takeaways: Tenacity is the most common attribute to successful entrepreneurs.
Other Services: Just Floating
Neil at Float OKC got into floating about 2 years ago, after he and his future business partner heard about it on the Joe Rogan podcast. They immediately became curious, but the nearest center they could find was in Dallas, several hours away. They decided to make the journey anyway, and after their first time in the tank they were hooked. It wasn’t long before they decided to open their own center, and they’ve since become the de facto home base for Oklahoma floating. Several other centers are now popping up in the area, thanks in no small part to the groundwork done by Float OKC.
Neil bought out his business partner, who was looking to move onto other projects, a few months ago. Neil never really thought about giving up his salty center, but it was proving to be more difficult and time consuming to work on it alone. He was having trouble finding staff, and although the center was profitable, growth wasn’t going as fast as he’d like. At around this time, Dr. Justin Feinstein at LIBR sent out a call to everyone in the Oklahoma area to meet up at his lab.
Dr. Feinstein wanted to bring everyone together to collaborate and make Tulsa the floating capital of the world. This was the fire that Neil needed to keep the business propelled forward, and since then he’s been developing a significant increase in clientele. He’s even planning on opening a second location not too long in the future.
Many thanks to Neil for taking the time to show us around and share some of his stories.
From Selling Oil to Selling Saltwater…
Tulsa – Oklahoma
Float Centers: 3 (and more coming soon)
Known for: Formerly the “Oil Capital of the World” (soon to be known as “Float Capital of the World”)
Recover – Tulsa, OK (two locations)
Number of Tanks: 4 (2 in each location)
Years in Operation: 1
Tactical takeaways: Know your demographic and how to speak to them.
Other Services: Physical therapy, wellness, massage, personal training, yoga
Markus at Recover has been a long time personal trainer for people in all walks of life. From body builders to those overcoming serious injury, Markus is no stranger to the limits and recovery of the human body. For years, he’s utilized massage and physical therapy. Recently he’s incorporated floating into the equation. Since doing so, he’s seen remarkable improvements in people’s recovery times, and many of his physical therapy clients have seen positive results in pain management as well.
He opened a second center within a month of us visiting, so of course we had to check it out. It’s located inside the Sky Fit center in Tulsa; this one is exclusively a float spa, but given its location, it serves a similar health and fitness focus.
(Also, the recliners in the lobby are super comfortable; we tested them out for you.)
H2Oasis – Tulsa, OK
Number of Tanks: 4
Years in Operation: 0
Tactical takeaways: Perfect planning produces perfect results (we hope). We’re eager to see how the center turns out.
Other Services: Tea Lounge, oxygen bar (maybe)
H2Oasis is breaking ground right now! We got to visit their construction site, where they were tearing up concrete to start laying their initial plumbing pipes. You can already see their vision coming together between the plumes of dust. Connie and Debra – who we knew from the Float Conference – were also present at Dr. Feinstein’s call to action, which they took to heart. As a result, after years of planning, they’ve finally pulled the trigger on opening their own center. They’ve worked very closely with Dr. Feinstein to create the plans for H2Oasis and are even putting the exact same type of tank in their rooms that he uses in his research. A welcome option for the subjects who finish up their studies and are looking for a similar experience in the commercial sector.
They’re hoping to turn their location into a full relaxation center. The dream is to create a comfortable area where people can unwind and escape the noise of everyday life. That dream is still forming, which means they’re still not sure what additional services might come about, but we sincerely hope they keep their plans for a large tea room.
Honorable Mention: Synergia Ranch
On the road, we received an invitation to visit Synergia Ranch through a mutual friend. It was founded by several researchers deeply interested in elevated mind states as well as environmental causes. We were shown around by Debra Snyder (a.k.a. Tango) and John Allen, an old friend of John C. Lilly’s. They were the progenitors of the Biosphere 2 project of the 90s. A closed Earth-like micro ecosystem in the desert of New Mexico, the Biosphere 2 was revolutionary. It was heralded as “the most exciting scientific project to be undertaken in the U.S. since President John F. Kennedy launched us toward the moon” in Discover magazine at the time, and the scale of the project has yet to be replicated.
We got to tour the Ranch, which included going inside one of the hermetically-sealed hatches that they’ve used to contain micro-biomes. John Allen also showed us a collection of some of his many treasures throughout the years, from the staffs of shamans of African tribes to the now out of print anthologies of written down oral traditions of Native American tribes. One of my favorites was a coffee table in the shape of the orbit of Haley’s Comet.
Tango also runs Synergetic Press, known for publishing lots of psychonuatic works such as the Ayahuasca Reader, Mystic Chemist, and Birth of Psychedelic Culture.
On the scale of amazing projects they put out, their latest is an H.R. Geiger art book, the artist most famously known for the design of the Xenomorphs from the Aliens franchise. The book itself is stunning. Geiger has a captivating style to his work that runs chills down my spine as I look over it. The book is a series of large prints of artwork, each one an intricate collection of icons and visions. If you wanna check it it’s available through their Synergetic Press website.
They’re also in the process of releasing a John C. Lilly Reader, which we may do some collaboration with Coincidence Control Publishing.
Thanks so much for the tour Tango! It was a pleasure visiting the Ranch.
The LIBR Issue (#9) is up next…
That’s all for this update.
From here, it’s into Texas where we get to visit some old school float centers and manufacturers. We didn’t write much on Justin Feinstein’s work at LIBR, because a future post will be dedicated entirely to the work he’s doing there, and some of the history on float research as a whole.
Until next time… stay salty!