Unplug: Flotation therapy growing in popularity at Go With The Float

  • Stephen Bryla, owner of Go With The Float, explains the steps in using a flotation tank at the Easthampton business. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The interior of a flotation tank at Go With The Float in Easthampton is filled with about 10 inches of a saltwater solution, which provides buoyancy. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A massage room at Go With The Float in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Veronica Eggleston, who runs Big Bear Used Books and Cafe just down the hall from Go With The Float at the Keystone Building in Easthampton, talks about why she wanted to try the experience of flotation therapy as she waited in the living room-like lobby prior to her first session on Monday. At left is Mat Conz of Westhampton, who had just finished a sauna.

  • The infrared sauna room at Go With The Float in Easthampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mat Conz of Westhampton relaxes in the living room-like waiting area after a sauna at Go With The Float in Easthampton on Monday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 10/6/2021 12:16:26 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Leaning forward on a soft couch tucked away in a warmly lit, spacious parlor inside the Keystone building on Monday, Mat Conz was feeling tranquil after a session in the sauna.

That’s one of the reasons Conz regularly visits Go With The Float, a business that offers a sauna as well as massage services. But for Conz and others, the main attraction of the business is in its name: flotation therapy, also known as sensory deprivation.

“Some people think it’s hallucinogenic,” he said. “For me it’s just relaxing.”

Go With The Float has been located in the mill building for nearly three years, and is one of a few local spas — Euphoria Float Spa in Northampton is another — to offer clients the experience of floating naked in complete darkness and silence in a warm, bath-like isolation chamber filled with 10 inches of saltwater solution. The experience has generated hype in the alternative “wellness” community, and owner Stephen Bryla said it draws in everyone from those wanting to meditate to athletes looking to relax their worn-out muscles.

“People float for all different kinds of reasons,” he said.

For Bryla, 33, his love of floating began when he was an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He heard about the therapy from a friend, drove to Worcester to find the nearest floatation tank and had a profound experience that he said hooked him instantly.

“I became aware, conscious … without feeling my physical body,” he said. “I had this revelation about what it is to be alive, and my part in the universe and feeling like I was kind of just floating through space. Which we are, but we don’t really stop to think about.”

Bryla was soon preaching the benefits of floating to everyone.

“Nobody had any idea what I’m talking about,” he said with a laugh. “People still don’t know what I’m talking about.”

But that is changing as floating becomes more popular, Bryla said. His business is looking to buy a fourth floatation tank, and is building up regular clients after a slow period during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bryla isn’t the only person to describe floating as profound. On Wednesday, for example, At-large Easthampton City Councilor Owen Zaret posted on social media that he had taken his first float the week prior at Go With the Float.

“It was transformative,” Zaret wrote. “I highly encourage anyone interested in a body relaxing, mind expanding, self reflecting experience to check them out.”

Bryla said that people tend to have some nerves when they step for the first time into one of Go With the Float’s tanks, which are around 4.5 feet wide, 8 feet long and 6 feet tall.

“Even the most nervous of customers, most everyone is relieved after and look forward to coming back,” he said.

Veronica Eggleston, who runs Big Bear Used Books and Cafe just down the hall from Go With The Float, was one of those first customers. She was sitting in the softly lit den that greets floaters when they arrive.

When asked if she was excited or nervous, Eggleston said, “A little bit of both.”

One float costs $65 and lasts either 60, 75 or 90 minutes, depending on what the client wants. Go With the Float also sells monthly memberships, 40-minute sauna sessions and massages.

In addition to the comfortable parlor where customers can hang out before or after their float, massage or sauna, the space has a kitchen for making tea and a separate room where they host artwork from local artists every month.

Bryla said that because floating is such a novel experience, many people come to try it as a one-off adventure. He said he understands that, but that the benefits of floating come from making it a regular practice.

“The best analogy is that of meditation,” he said. “You can get deeper and deeper.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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