Float Your Troubles Away
Relax, refresh, and reenergize at Regenerate flotation therapy center
Imagine you're lying on your back floating in a pristine mountain lake on a hot summer day. Your eyes are closed, but you feel the sun on your face, and the only thing you hear is the sound of birds chirping far off in the distance as you let your body drift lazily in the cool, clear water.
That's where my mind took me during my first float experience at Regenerate, the flotation therapy center located in downtown Hagerstown, but your float could take you to any number of places. Wherever you go, you're sure to come back feeling supremely relaxed, refreshed, and reenergized.
When I first set eyes on the almost spaceship-like float pod, I admit I felt a bit intimidated. But as Regenerate co-owner Bobbi Cool gave me the rundown on how to enter the pod and start my 60-minute float session, I realized I was in for a truly unique experience.
The two float pods at Regenerate, each in its own private room, are filled with 10 inches of water and approximately 1,000 pounds of highly saturated Epsom salt, which allows you to float completely effortlessly. The water is kept at skin temperature, says co-owner Eric Sarmiento. "That way as you float and your mind lets go, and you let go of letting go, you really don't sense the water," he says. "It's easy to kind of let go and just float."
Flotation therapy has a lot of similarities with the practice of meditation, according to Regenerate co-owner James Magee. "The idea is to eliminate distractions," he says. "And that allows your mind to get into a unique state that you can't get to as easily when you're out on the street or even at home sometimes."
While Bobbi recommends floating in total darkness for maximum benefit, there are color-changing lights inside the pod that you can choose to leave on during your session. You also can choose from Regenerate's library of musical selections inspired by nature sounds and eclectic tones or opt to float sound free. "Everything is to your comfort level," Bobbi says.
When Eric and Bobbi heard about flotation therapy a few years ago, each had unique reasons for wanting to try it. "I was looking for stress relief and relaxation," Bobbi says. Eric, on the other hand, who practices jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts, was hoping for physical benefits. "I was looking more for pain relief and to heal my body and just find relief from gravity," he says. "And even though we both had completely different views of what we wanted, we both got back exactly what we were looking for."
The couple opened Regenerate in January, with James, Eric's brother, joining soon after.
While the idea of floating for health benefits may be new to Hagerstown, doctors and researchers have been studying the effects of flotation therapy for half a century. It's a form of restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST), known prior to the late 1970s as sensory deprivation and popularized by John C. Lilly, M.D. in the 1950s and 60s.
If floating around in a pitch-black tank filled with salty, lukewarm water sounds scary, think again. Numerous studies on the effects of flotation REST have found that subjects who tried the therapy found the experience deeply relaxing. In fact, according to an article by Thomas H. Fine and Roderick Borrie, Ph.D., the results of these studies "provide strong support for the hypothesis that Flotation REST serves as a powerful relaxation inducer and has clinical potential in working with patients who have stress-related disorders." Data also supports the use of flotation therapy for mood enhancement, as many subjects reported experiencing an increase in positive emotion and a decrease in negative emotions after floating.
Studies have shown that flotation therapy can have positive results in treating some physical disorders, including hypertension, muscle tension headaches, chronic pain, arthritis, and PMS, as well.
After my float, feeling notably rejuvenated and relaxed, I was shown to Regenerate's aptly named relaxation room, where customers can enjoy a zero-gravity full-body massage in one of two specialty massage chairs and get an instant pick-me-up from breathing 90-percent pure oxygen in scents like strawberry, peppermint, and chamomile and vanilla. "Both make a nice addition to floating," Eric says. "Especially if you want to come in and chill pre-float."
20 West Washington Street, Hagerstown
301-992-4249 • www.feelregenerated.com