Story By Andrew Innerarity
Today I had my choice of Reboot Float Spa’s 3 Bay Area locations, San Francisco’s Mission and Marina Districts and Oakland. I head in, knowing they will succeed where the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Aegean, Dead Sea, the Adriatic and even geothermally–heated Icelandic fresh water have failed.
I’m going from a sub-zero cold stand-up treatment to body temperature prone experience, so after check-in, I hit the changing room, before my hour of lying down I’m fully enclosed in the Cryo tube where liquid nitrogen cools the air, depending on the user’s comfort level from -165 to -220 degrees F. The idea is, during my 3 minutes of exposure in the telephone booth-sized compartment is for the sub zero temperature to activate a whole body “cold-shock response” in which the body’s release of endorphins promotes a “feel good and energetic” response. I find this super cooled method far more efficient, shorter and pleasant than standing in a waist deep ice tub. Reboot also offers a localized cold therapy treatment for those who prefer to have the treatment from a seated position administered by hand wand to specific body parts.
With the standup portion complete, I head down the hall to a private flotation room, swapping the dry world’s “vertical clothing” for garb appropriate to my horizontal liquid world. After the shower, my briefing with Elisa, the site manager, includes her description of the egg-shaped flotation pod; how to enter and exit the unit, an option to leave the lid open if I’m at all claustrophobic; how to choose from a rainbow of lights which can illuminate the pod; how the mechanism circulates, sanitizes for bacteria and physical objects the size of a hair, and maintains the water and its 1,000 pounds of dissolved Epson Salt’s temperature so close to my body and pod ‘s air temperature — the different sensations between my solid body, the air and the liquid suspending me are close to indistinguishable.
For my impression of Neil Armstrong, I take “one small step for a man.“ the pod’s water is deep enough to touch the bottom of my calf. I’m surprised at how my foot’s almost rejected by the extreme buoyancy, as though this heavily Epsom Salted water is a liquid spring, simultaneously inviting and suspending me. Things got strangely “springier” as I lay back and stretched out in the pod, but in a moment I went from thinking, “This is warm and springy-weird” to “Ha! I’m floating for the first time in my life, wow!”
I close the lid and the “whoah, I’m not gonna sink to the bottom, as usual” is over in a few seconds and I relax into the situation, experimenting with legs crossed at ankles, limbs spread eagle, fingers interlaced across chest coffin-style, I settle on fingers interlaced behind the head and legs crossed at the ankles.
Knowing I won’t need the audio “Mute” button on my left, or the “Lights On” button to the right, I appreciate how relaxed I am. In the first few minutes of floating, I’m happy with Elisa’s “Pro Tips”. She’s been working at Reboot since 2018, managing since 2019: Don’t take too hot a shower before getting into the pod … avoid getting the extremely salty water in the eyes, but if you do there’s a fresh water spray bottle and a dry washcloth on my left.
I relax into a Thunderstorm and Rain Track from their Spotify stream to my pod for my hour session for the first 10 minutes, then silence to accompany my hour of darkness until the last 5 minutes when storm noise returns as notice my time as a liquid astronaut will soon end. I can’t help but wonder how many levels of advantage there are to this process I’m enjoying. From a chemistry class long ago, I remember Epsom Salt is basically used to replenish Magnesium in farm soil. Today I’ll see what it’s doing for me. Maybe I’m part astronaut farmer. Between the chemistry, the darkness, the antigravity qualities of the super buoyancy, I feel like the world’s most relaxed astronaut. While Reboot recommends three float sessions to see how one truly feels, I was hooked at ONE, fish-pun intended.
I think I fell asleep at least three times – blame the uncertain count on me being so mellow – I couldn’t differentiate sleep from conscious relaxation.
Thunderstorm audio breaks the silence, the last 5 minutes of bliss pass all too quickly. Reluctantly I open the lid, ease my way out of the pod and shower up. My skin certainly feels smoother from the “float”. Mentally refreshed, I’m even feeling taller, was that because I dreamed I was as tall as Bay Area-resident Steph Curry, a Reboot Float Spa user whose video I watched on Reboot’s site as part of my visit prep? Dried off, relaxed and halfway through the final stage of this blissful afternoon, as I wait for the Reboot Compression Garment secured to my lower body to release the pressure on my thighs and abs, I’m feeling almost ready to reenter the world, and as we debrief, I ask Elisa which is more relaxing, floating or a massage? Her answer: Why not go with both?
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