A young Saskatoon entrepreneur has opened the province's only commercial float tank.
For Christian Zrymiak, buying the $13,000 float tank was "a spur-of-moment decision", but it's one that's making salt water pay off.
Last November, Zrymiak was living in Vancouver studying hypnotherapy.
Unable to find a job, he moved back to the Prairies and after six months of operating Saskatchewan's only commercial float tank, Zrymiak said he's found a business he's "absolutely passionate" about.
Originally from Regina, the 22-year-old now operates Oceanic Experience Wellness from his home in Saskatoon. He charges $45 for a 90-minute float and is surprised at how many people are calling.
More tanks on order
"Since it's a home-based business right now, I can't have more than five people a day," said Zrymiak. He says many customers ask if they can float at the same time as a spouse or a friend. He's currently searching for a bigger space to rent, and has ordered two more tanks.
Users must shower before climbing into the tank, which holds 25 centimetres of water mixed with Epsom salts. They shower again afterward, to rinse off the salt.
Saskatoon yoga instructor Donna Leggott started using the float tank this winter.
'How I felt before and how I felt after were like night and day.' —Donna Leggott, Oceanic Experience Wellness client
"I'd done too many backbends and I was in a ton of pain. And I remember going to my first float, and how I felt before and how I felt after were like night and day," said Leggott. "It was really, really amazing."
Heavy salt content allows users to float
Zrymiak estimated he goes through nearly 400 kilograms of Epsom salts in a week. He said the brine-laced solution is saltier than the Dead Sea, and anyone can float.
Leggott had a practical caution for other users: avoid getting any of the salt in your eyes.
"There's so much Epsom salt in the water, it's just a really cool feeling. It almost feels like oil because it's so thick," said Leggott. "Laying down, it's the same temperature as your body so it feels really nice and relaxing."
Sensory deprivation tanks were first developed in the 1950s, but Zrymiak said float tanks today are geared toward helping clients relax.
Customers seek relaxation, relief from pain
He said the people who visit Oceanic Experience Wellness fall into three main categories: stressed-out professionals, people with injuries or chronic pain, and athletes and artists who want to improve their performance.
Matt Madill suffers from back problems, as well as chronic knee and elbow injuries. He travels regularly from Regina to Saskatoon to float.
'You're taking all the weight off your body.' —Matt Madill, Oceanic Experience Wellness
"You're taking all the weight off your body. Because even when you're sitting up relaxing, your brain is telling your muscles to hold your body up. Telling you to hold your neck up, telling you to move your hands," said Madill. "You get to go in there and turn that off."
Zrymiak equates the float tank's cleanliness standards to what users would expect from a spa, or a pool. The tank has a filtration system that kicks in after each use. He says the water is also changed regularly.
Zrymiak said running the float centre has taught him practical skills in running a small business. He's pleased to be making a living helping people, like Donna Leggott, feel better.
"I step in there, close the door and lay down, close my eyes, and it's like the rest of the whole world disappears and it's just me and my mind," said Leggott.