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Peace in a pod

If Lance Foss, Matthew Dahrouge and Cole Stevens had reservations about the appeal of a float studio in Red Deer, these have drowned in the sea of “Likes” on their business’s Facebook page.

It has yet to open, but The Float Shack has attracted nearly 1,300 electronic thumbs-up, as well as steady stream of queries from float enthusiasts.

“Phone, email, Facebook — everything is coming in,” said Foss, adding that people have also been stopping in at their No. 205, 5589 47th St. studio in hopes of finding it operational.

“They wanted to book floats three months ago.”

The Float Shack is even featured in a documentary produced by a Mount Royal University broadcasting student. Entitled Inter_null, it’s available on YouTube and Vimeo.

The partners expect to open by mid-July, with two float pods already in place. Measuring four feet by eight feet (1.2 metres by 2.4 metres), each holds 11 inches (28 cm) of 93.5 F water in a chamber that seals out light and sound.

“When you go in there, you lose almost all sensory input,” said Foss.

“You can’t hear anything, you can’t see anything, you can’t feel anything — because the water is heated to skin receptor neutral and there are no effects of gravity; there are no pressure points anywhere on your back.

“After about five or 10 minutes in the water, you don’t know which part of your body is in the water and which part is out.”

The approximately 800 pounds (360 kg) of pharmaceutical grade Epsom salt that’s mixed into the water keeps users afloat. The salt also acts as a natural disinfectant, with hydrogen peroxide used as well.

The water is also cleaned before and after every float using a commercial pool filter and high-intensity UV light.

Each pod is in its own private room, with a shower and towels. Standard sessions will run 60 or 90 minutes, at a cost $59 or $79 respectively — or less with a membership or if multiple sessions are booked.

“I’ve floated 4 1/2 hours,” said Foss of his longest stretch in a pod, noting that others have remained for much longer.

People of all ages enjoy floating, he said.

“People want to try it for relaxation, for stress relief — some just want to expand their mind and consciousness.” Many have heard about health benefits associated with floating, said Dahrouge. These include reduced blood pressure, improved circulation and pain management.

Foss, Dahrouge and Stevens, who are all 24 and trained as heavy equipment technicians, plan to install three more pods at The Float Shack. The 2,300-square-foot space will also have a seating area for customers to relax after floating, and retail sales of local arts and crafts.

There’s also an additional 800 square feet that they hope to lease to a complementary business, like a massage or acupuncture clinic.

Foss and Dahrouge were the original partners behind The Float Shack. They obtained the two pods in January, at a cost of about $15,000 each, and set one up at Foss’s home.

There, they introduced some 100 friends and family members to floating, including Stevens.

“He (Foss) asked me to come try it, and after that I wanted to be part of this,” said Stevens, explaining how he became a partner.

Although float studios are still new to many people, this is quickly changing, said Foss.

“In the last three to four years there has been a huge surge in the flotation industry. There are manufacturers popping up; there are float centres popping up everywhere.”

Despite their own enthusiasm for floating, Foss, Dahrouge and Stevens have been too busy setting up The Float Shack to take advantage of its equipment.

Eventually, said Dahrouge, this will change.

“Our time will come.”

The Float Shack will operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays. Additional information about the studio can be found on its website at or on its Facebook page.

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