Land-locked Red Deer could become a candidate for this unlikely nickname with the opening of two float studios in the city.
Inhale Oxygen Bar was the first to welcome floaters last Wednesday when it lifted the lid on its pod at Unit 1, 6842 Gaetz Ave.
And The Float Shack hopes to have customers bobbing in its two float tanks at No. 205, 5589 47th St. by the end of this week.
Inhale Oxygen Bar owner Michelle Walker said she’s ordered two additional pods, while The Float Shack plans to eventually add three more to its facilities.
Matt Dahrouge, who operates The Float Shack with partners Lance Foss and Cole Stevens, estimates that there are about 14 or 15 pods in Vancouver.
“Per capita, I’d say that we’re one of the highest concentrations.”
Walker has been surprised at how far people have been travelling to climb into the pod at her studio.
“I’ve had nine customers from Edmonton drive down,” she said on Monday.
Dahrouge said The Float Shack has been attracting attention from far beyond the city’s boundaries as well.
“We have had clientele and people comment or call us from Edmonton and Calgary, wondering when we’re going to open.”
Walker is not surprised by people’s enthusiasm for floating.
The activity, which involves relaxing atop salt-saturated water that’s warmed to body temperature — in the absence of noise and light — reduces stress, anxiety and depression, she said.
“It decreases the production of cortisol and lactic acids and adrenaline; it increases endorphins.”
The benefits are pronounced for people with chronic pain, such as arthritis sufferers, said Walker.
But the experience is positive for everyone who spends time in a pod.
“I just feel like a different person,” said Walker. “I feel so energized.”
As its name suggests, Inhale Oxygen Bar also gives customers the opportunity to take in some concentrated oxygen.
A 10-person oxygen bar offers four different aromas, and a fifth with no taste.
“After five minutes of being in the oxygen bar, you have 50 per cent more oxygen in your bloodstream,” said Walker.
“It literally opens your mind.”
As with floating, Walker believes oxygen consumption provides health benefits.
“It makes you feel so good, and it heightens your senses, your awareness — everything.”
Inhale Oxygen Bar’s flotation pod measures about eight feet by six feet (2.4 metres by 1.8 metres) and could fit three people, said Walker.
But she typically restricts it to one user at time to optimize their floating experience.
“You want to be completely into a forced meditation; by having somebody else there it’s stimulating your senses.”
The pod is in a private room with a shower, and the water undergoes continuous filtration using ozone and UV light.
Walker and Dahrouge think Red Deer is big enough for two flotation studios.
Plus, said Walker, the two businesses are projecting different images: Inhale Oxygen Bar a spa environment; The Float Shack more of a casual, relaxed setting.
“I think we’re going to have different crowds of people.”
“We’ve actually met Michelle quite a few times and we’ve developed quite a relationship with her.
“I think we’ll complement each other quite well.”
Inhale Oxygen Bar is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Floating prices are $75 for a 60-minute session and $95 for 90 minutes. Additional information can be found on the business’s Facebook page.
The Float Shack’s website is at www.thefloatshack.com.