OSWEGO — Saying the new Aqua Spa Float Center and Wellness Boutique’s float therapy is a relaxing departure would be an understatement.

If you’re unfamiliar or skeptical, it can seem like a strange experience. What’s a float tank? What am I floating on? Who is letting me out?

For answers to all these questions and more, The Palladium-Times this week had the opportunity to tour the newly opened facility, which cut its ribbon Tuesday evening in a ceremony with owners Tammy Wilkinson and Terry LeRoi.

“It’s truly an honor to share this wellness sanctuary with our community,” Wilkinson said, after millions of dollars of investment and several years of planning.

Terry Fistick is the client relations manager at the Aqua Spa and told the Pall-Times the business has everything needed for Port Citizens to be at ease and comfortable the entire time. A “wellness ambassador” like Fistick walks clients through registration and initial accommodations with guidance for first-timers. Looking at the menu in the front atrium, customers choose from float therapy, cryotherapy, infrared sauna, salt therapy and an oxygen bar. All that, and more, is complemented by a masseuse.

For people who have never floated before, wellness ambassadors describe each step along the way: what is happening and what's going to happen next.

Preparing to float

Upon entering the float therapy suite, a private room roughly the size of a large walk-in closet, you’ll find earplugs, a private shower and a variety of hair and body washes. Experts recommend earplugs to limit water in the ears. Before entering the tank, a quick shower eliminates oils and other skin debris.

Once you’ve removed all your clothing, you’re ready to enter the monolithic 8-foot by 6.5-foot tank that stands 7-foot tall and holds 220 gallons of water. How is all that water filtered? Is it safe? When was the last time it was cleaned? In the era of COVID-19, these questions take on even greater importance.

Fistick said sanitization and hygiene are critical focuses for Aqua Spa employees and all tanks are maintained daily, in addition to a powerful mechanical component.

“Our filtration system is completely overkill for what we are doing. That water is cleaner than any drinking water you will find,” Fistick said. To wit: the staff uses a process involving a 1-micron filter bag, UV lights to weaken or kill any bacteria and generously doused with hydrogen peroxide. Fistick described in detail the specific chemistry of the water and systems they use, and is profoundly confident in its ability to eliminate impurities.

“No germs will survive in that water,” Fistick said.

Upon entering the tank, the water will heat to a toasty 90-degree temperature for a comforting and relaxing soak.

Users should know before they float, Fistick said, that the tank can irritate small cuts or abrasions but the Aqua Spa provides small ointment packets to protect skin wounds.

Don’t bother with the mascara or eyeliner if you plan to visit, however, as customers are required to remove any “foreign substances” before entering a float tank.

For anyone nervous about entering a strange-looking pod of water, Aqua Spa officials stress that at no point are any locks engaged, or do customers have to rely on anyone else to help them exit.

Float on

Once inside the tank itself, floaters can control the ceiling and underwater lights and music selection. There is also a head flotation device to help keep above the water line.

The experience in the mammoth tank can be completely customized to the users’ preference and has enough room to comfortably fit two people.

The goal, Fistick said, is looking for the “theta state,” or the neurological set “right before you fall asleep” when the mind is drifting into unconsciousness and the brain can experience learning, growing and healing.

It can be easy to lose track of time while in the tank and some report a feeling of disorientation — you might think you’re floating dead center, but then bump gently into one side of the tank.

The hypersalinity of the water — similar to the Dead Sea in Israel — allows you to drift and even fall asleep without the possibility of sinking. If you need to leave the suite during the therapeutic session, Aqua Spa provides bathrobes. While The Spa doesn’t lock the door to the tank, doors to the private suites lock from the inside.

After completing your session, people should take another shower using the provided conditioner to clean out the salt and other chemicals from hair.

Once the float is finished, debrief in the primp room, relaxation room, or yoga studio. These rooms are designed to give consumers the best relaxing experience to unwind after using one of the therapeutic sessions.

The experience is one-of-a-kind in the central New York area, and Aqua Spa provides some different pricing options for people who want to try this experience.

Different services, durations and intensities at the Aqua Spa Float Center and Wellness Boutique run in a variety of price ranges and the full list and pricing can be found online at aquaspafloatcenter.com

Due to the large float tank sizes, Fistik said it is possible to do couple floats. Couple floats involve two people enjoying the experience together in the same tank simultaneously.

For more information, call (315) 207-2080 between 10 a.m and 10 p.m any day except Tuesday and Thursday. The spa is located at 120 E. First St.

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