Something in the world of floating have you stumped?
Ashkahn and Graham break down the wild world of floating, well… worldwide. They share what they know about the industry in different countries, continent by continent, and gauging which ones are the most float centric vs. those that are the least (hint, it’s definitely Antarctica).
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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)
Ashkahn: Welcome everybody.
Graham: Hey, this is Graham.
Ashkahn: This is Ashkahn and we got an episode for you today.
Graham: Boy do we.
Graham: An international episode.
Ashkahn: A tour of the world.
Graham: And the question is, “we hear a lot about floating in the us, oh, U.S., floating in the U.S.”
Ashkahn: That’s capitalized here.
Graham: I thought it meant like the collective us. You know? “In the U.S., what about the rest of the freaking world?” That was editorial, I added in the word freaking there, but I knew what they meant. What about the rest of the world? What’s up?
Ashkahn: What’s going on out there? Yeah, so-
Graham: It’s a big world, yeah.
Ashkahn: It is, there’s more than just the United States. There’s-
Graham: There’s seven continents. Is that right?
Ashkahn: Yeah, I don’t know if there’s any floating on Antarctica yet.
Graham: Cross that one out. Not a ton in Africa. Let’s go in reverse order. Let’s go in reverse order.
Ashkahn: Yeah, I guess-
Graham: At least in Antarctica, we’re sure on that.
Ashkahn: We’re sure on that. I feel pretty good about that. I think you’re right, I would put Africa next on that. I’ve heard of a little bit out of South Africa.
Graham: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I just random, I think the West Coast of Africa had one place that I saw popping up.
Ashkahn: Yeah, so some of this is hard just because there’s big language and cultural barriers and stuff like that that make it hard to even know what’s going on in those places. Likely, if we’re hearing about something that means there’s probably a little bit more than that actually going on.
Graham: I just look at podcast listens and assume that’s where all the action actually is anyway.
Ashkahn: Of the people I’ve actually spoken to, and heard about opening float centers, it’s mostly been a couple people in South Africa mostly.
Graham: Then third least is-
Graham: Probably Asia, yeah.
Ashkahn: Or maybe South America.
Graham: Yeah, maybe South America.
Ashkahn: I put those somewhere around the same place.
Graham: Yeah, they’re both kind of up and coming, like there are more centers that have been opening there in the last couple years.
Ashkahn: It starts to vary place by place. I feel like we’ve heard of a couple things, and know of a couple float centers in Argentina.
Graham: Mm-hmm , yeah, down in Columbia for sure, Brazil.
Ashkahn: There’s a couple in Columbia and Bogota, and definitely some stuff going on in Brazil.
Graham: Yeah, absolutely. Then same for Central America, there’s kind of just stuff scattered throughout there.
Ashkahn: Every year at the float conference we get maybe five, six people from various South and Central American countries coming out. There’s kind of murmurings in a lot of places down there.
Graham: Same for Southeast Asia especially, but I guess Asia in general too. There’s a whole Russian flotation association, which is really cool.
Ashkahn: Which doesn’t seem huge or anything.
Graham: Right, it doesn’t mean there’s hundreds of float centers, but they have a manufacturer, they have an association, they have centers.
Ashkahn: There’s definitely someone who has four, five centers, four or five locations under a single company. There’s a couple things like that going on, a few float centers here and there throughout Russia that we’ve heard about. Japan is just starting to come online and get a couple float centers.
Graham: There’s a whole episode that we did earlier from the Daily Solutions Podcast about Ashkahn and Jake’s trip over to China where they really break down what’s going on in China, but definitely a presence of float tanks over in China as well.
Ashkahn: Yeah, almost to the point where I’d put them in a slightly different category than the other countries in Asia. I’ve heard a little bit out of places like Indonesia, and a little bit out of places- I visited a float center in Taiwan.
Graham: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ashkahn: And a couple of things here and there. Then in China, in the last year all of the sudden, there’s been this kind of a lot of at least presence or communication going on with a float association that formed there, and float tanks that all of a sudden are coming on. Our radar here in the western world that are set up in things like hospitals and other medical facilities, and some research that’s been done. I think there, from what they say, and from what they’re doing with their association gearing up for a much bigger kind of float presence in China specifically.
Graham: Then Europe?
Ashkahn: Yeah, I think that’s fair. Europe is interesting because it’s really, I would say, almost more country by country than a lot of these other places we’ve been talking about.
Graham: There’s a ton of countries that just don’t even have any float tank presence yet.
Ashkahn: That we know of.
Graham: Yeah, that we know of. And a lot more that are, it’s just like there would be one or two places springing up. We’ve actually had a lot of interest coming in from Romania recently, which is really interesting. The big ones over in the U.K. are, sorry the U.K., in Europe. Jumped the gun there, jumped the gun.
Graham: The U.K. though obviously has a lot of float tank manufacturers. Some of the longest running float tank manufacturers are over in the U.K.
Ashkahn: Number of centers. Germany.
Graham: Yeah, Germany also, one of the world’s biggest float franchises is over in Germany. Another big manufacturer over there, at least one big manufacturer over there.
Ashkahn: Yeah, definitely a couple people manufacturing float centers kind of in a number of cities throughout Germany that you can go to.
Graham: I mean really like often times three of four tanks, like nicer float centers, not just a single tank or something like that too.
Ashkahn: In a bigger city, like if you go to Munich, there’s like four or five float centers in Munich, things like that that you don’t find in every European country.
Graham: Then other big ones, things like France are really just starting to get a few float centers around. I’d almost expect them to have more than they do. It’s almost very float barren.
Ashkahn: As far as I know, there’s two centers in Paris, and basically the entire surrounding area of Paris. They’re both pretty relatively new. One’s been there for a couple of years, one just opened up in the last year. There’s a float center in the north of France, and there’s maybe like one more somewhere else. Compared to Germany next to it, and even Spain on the other side, has I think a much bigger float presence. France is just very, very kind of sparse compared to, even literally like its neighbors on all sides, which is strange.
Then even up in Scandinavia, you see very similar things like that. There’s Norway that has one or two places, and then there’s Sweden that has a bunch of float centers, and has a much bigger float presence.
Graham: Then Finland which again has pretty much nothing.
Ashkahn: Not technically part of Scandinavia, but yeah.
Graham: Really? I didn’t know Finland wasn’t part of Scandinavia.
Ashkahn: Scandinavia is-
Ashkahn: – Norway, Sweden and Denmark by the strictest definition, and then Iceland gets tossed in there with a slightly looser definition.
Graham: Finland is just up there and not a part of any of it?
Ashkahn: Yeah, they have a completely different language goes to a completely different route.
Graham: I know you ask a different question audience, but this is what I’m learning this episode.
Ashkahn: Finnish, the Finland, people just get it confused because of they’re all geographically clumped together.
Graham: That’s so crazy. I did not know that. I absolutely thought that Finland was part of Scandinavia. Holy crap, what else don’t I know? What else have we been telling you people?
Ashkahn: All lies, it’s all been lies.
Graham: My whole life feels like a lie now. Anyway, Sweden has a ton of places, lots of places to float up there.
Ashkahn: Yeah, you hear a lot about Sweden.
Graham: They’re really small, is what I will say. I guess we haven’t checked in with them in a little bit. At some point it was actually shrinking rather than growing, but that was maybe like four, five years ago or something when we were chatting with them.
Ashkahn: Sweden is on a lot of people’s radar because there’s a lot of Swedish float research that has come out. There was this Float Summit that happened there many years ago.
Graham: And their health association they were trying to make it part of their healthcare, so they were really making a stab as getting this as part of the institution.
Ashkahn: Basically, there was a period of time where they had a really strong association, which I think now is all but gone. They had a decent number of float centers. In our experience when we went there, a lot of those float centers were just a couple tanks and more off the beaten path than what we’re used to here in the U.S. where you go to a city and there’s big centers in the hearts of cities and stuff like that.
Graham: Like four to eight tanks, or something like that.
Ashkahn: This is mostly like two tank centers.
Graham: One tank centers.
Ashkahn: Still more of those than we saw in, by far more of those in a lot of countries around.
Graham: Oh yeah, we’re talking about in the 60s to the 100 level.
Graham: I think when we were out visiting many years ago, the number they quoted us was in the 120s, it was like 121, or something was the number of actual places you could float.
Ashkahn: The research really came out of the fact that this association existed and kind of helped get the ball rolling on this stuff. Their goal was to get floating to be part of the national healthcare. Their plan for that was step one, generate float research, step two, create a float certification program for-
Graham: Dot, dot, dot profit.
Ashkahn: Yeah. They made it as far as getting really close to finishing their float certification program and then things kind of fell apart unfortunately a little bit.
Graham: Yeah. Anywhere else big in Europe? Italy, I guess is starting to get some float franchises.
Ashkahn: Yeah, as a franchise different locations throughout.
Graham: Shoshana from Samadhi, had been over there in Italy decades ago doing work with float tanks. They also kind of had this float ambassador that I think helped spread things a little bit earlier.
Ashkahn: Yeah, you hear a little bit more about places in Spain. I don’t know, and then just dotted throughout Eastern Europe. I guess it’s worth noting that in the Czech Republic, although floating has not really been taking off, there’s been this huge interest in these darkness retreats, or what they call darkness therapy, which is basically chamber rest, where you’re in an entire kind of sensory deprivation “room”, where the whole room is dark and you go and live in these things for like three weeks. That has become a phenomena where multiple of these establishments are opening up around the Czech Republic and research is happening with it, and people are going to stay in these things for weeks at a time, and experience a different type of rest.
Graham: That’s so funny, it’s following the same trajectory as wet floating over here. I’m sure they think the same thing, they’re doing this but only an hour and a half in water. For me, I’m like really chamber rest took off over there, but not a float tank. It just seems like so much more of a commitment to go up in a room for that much time. Anyway, it’s cool. It’s awesome that it’s going, yeah, definitely worth nothing.
Ashkahn: That’s Europe. Then comes Australia.
Graham: Yeah, then Australia. Australia, country wise I feel like the resurgence of floating after the 2008 period, like getting into 2010 and beyond, really went like the U.S. started popping off, and then Canada started going crazy, and then a couple years later Australia started coming online too. I feel like Australia has kind of hit its float boom maybe five, six years ago.
Ashkahn: I would say less than that.
Graham: Maybe even less, maybe four.
Ashkahn: I would put Canada as maybe one to two years behind the U.S., and then Australia like one to two years behind that. I feel like Australia’s big growth boom was like in the last couple years, as of one to three years ago was a period where all of a sudden you saw a huge jump of float centers in most of the major cities in Australia. I was out in Melbourne, I think it was like four years ago. I was there just as the first commercial, on a commercial street with four float tank centers was opening. They had opened a week ago.
Graham: I’d say like three, four years ago. There’s a great franchise down there, Beyond Rest, that started opening up a bunch of locations. They really kind of led the charge down there, and had a huge amount of press that they got coming out on float tanks. It’s kind of what you see a lot of times. It’s like a couple, or even one successful company opens up. Floating is such a cool thing, and you’re getting so many people in the tanks at that point that you really inspire your entire country to start pursuing it.
Certainly down there in Australia you saw one or two successful companies open up, and then all of a sudden this huge- I’d say three, four years ago it really just started the rocket ship trajectory upwards. Now, pretty much all the major cities in Australia have not just one, but multiple centers that are sizeable, not just like small mom and pop kind of shops.
Graham: That’s it, then that brings us over to North America, where it really goes like the U.S. is a huge hub of floating. Canada is, like Ashkahn said, a couple years behind us.
Ashkahn: It’s not like pretty much there now and just representative of the population differences between here and there. Canada is like a- I forget what the population is, but it’s significantly less than the U.S. population.
Graham: Yeah, and then you’re starting to see-
Ashkahn: There’s the North Pole, worth note I think.
Graham: A couple in Santa’s workshop.
Ashkahn: Tiny tanks for the elves.
Graham: Magic salt crystals. Then also in North, I mean we covered Central America a little bit with South America. Mexico is also starting to get its first few centers. It’s had some that are not humongous, but operating down there for a little while. Not a ton of action though. I think it’s already gotten its first manufacturer down there in Mexico too. That’s kind of the North American scene, is a ton of stuff in the U.S., probably half the number of centers of the U.S. in Canada, and a smattering down in Mexico and Central America.
Ashkahn: Yeah. I mean I do think there is something to the English speaking world, like something getting big in a place like the U.S., immediately and easily spreading to things like Canada, and Australia, and the U.K., in a way that it has to jump another hurdle to pass that language barrier.
Graham: Even when we were up in Canada talking with Bernard up there at Ovarium, he was talking about the difference just in moving across town in Montreal, of moving from the English speaking side of town into the French district. He was saying, just that barrier, having more people who French was the main language they used, where a lot of newspapers they’re getting are in French, things like that. He just saw a drop in traffic from moving his center from the English speaking side of the city, to the French speaking side, which is totally crazy.
Even just in a very small geographical area, the ability to take advantage of all of the press, all the celebrity endorsements, like Steph Curry, and people like that talking about how float tanks have helped them. That stuff is just really hard to get translated to the same scale into any other language, or just assuming that another language will pick up stories like that and present them in their own countries just doesn’t seem to happen as much.
Ashkahn: Yeah. That’s what we know. We’ve heard other stories of tanks being installed in private places in the Emirates, or other spots in the Middle East and things like that.
Graham: Princes, you know. When you have a princely income, you can have hand tiled float tank rooms.
Ashkahn: Or the manufacturers flying out to other countries that we haven’t seen so much in the commercial sense come online, but are perhaps going into private places in a way that is just under the radar, more than what we tend to see out there.
Graham: In a way you could consider rocket ships and other space vehicles to be kind of giant flotation devices.
Ashkahn: Yeah, really the International Space Station is just one huge float tank.
Graham: Yeah, in its most pure form too, they don’t even need to worry about salt damage. There you have it, both floating around the world and other worldly.
Graham: Just in the atmospheric, whatever you call it. Anyway, good question. Thanks for joining us on our tour around the world of floating.
Ashkahn: That’s right. We will I guess- No, we’re supposed to say, if you have other questions, you can go to Floattanksolutions.com/podcast.
Graham: It’s only episode 300, or whatever we’re on.
Ashkahn: I’m going to get it one of these days, and I will answer them. We like answering them.
Graham: I love it.
Ashkahn: Thanks for you out there that are sending them in.
Graham: It feeds us. It feeds our souls. Give us food.
Ashkahn: Really though, give us some food please.
Graham: We’re very hungry. Bye.
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