Thunder Bay·Video

Thunder Bay couple start Afloat 'floatation therapy' business

At Afloat, a new business in Thunder Bay, customers pay to spend 90 minutes in a dark tank full of salt water.
Afloat owners Tracey and Gavin Barrett say after trying floating for the first time, they wanted to share the experience with others in Thunder Bay. (Amy Hadley)
Cancel your yoga and throw that soothing rain sounds CD out the window there's a new way to relax in Thunder Bay. And it involves a sensory deprivation tank. We find out what it's like to try "floatation therapy." 6:53

At Afloat, a new business in Thunder Bay, Ont., customers pay to spend 90 solitary minutes bobbing on salt water, inside a dark tank.

Enthusiasts call it "floatation therapy" and say it's a great way to relax, and temporarily escape the distractions of everyday life. 

After travelling out of town to try the experience for themselves, owners Gavin and Tracey Barrett said they knew right away that they wanted to bring it home to Thunder Bay.

"Coming out of the tank, I had a feeling of clarity," said Gavin Barrett. "It's the same feeling that I always chased with yoga and meditation and martial arts."

"There's no  light, no sound. You can just hear your breath and your heartbeat and it's just a great stress reliever," he said. "You come out feeling like you had a little vacation." 

Owner Gavin Barrett shows off one of the three float tanks at Afloat. Can't see the video? Click Here.

The couple invested in three floatation pods, also known as sensory deprivation tanks, at a cost of $25, 000 US each, and opened the doors to their new business in early 2015. 

The gleaming white tanks, which look like something out of science fiction, are designed to limit sensory stimulation.

Each one is filled with 25 centimetres of water, saturated with over 400 kilograms of epsom salt. In the buoyant water, floating is effortless. The light can be turned off once the person is inside. 

The end result is an environment that frees the mind, and allows the body to rest, said Barrett, noting that some customers float to help with pain, and athletic recovery. 

Barrett said that while floating is a new idea for Thunder Bay, it's catching on fast. 

"It's exceeded our expectations in how busy we are," he said. "It's been incredible."


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