Returning to the womb with athletic recovery at Vive Float Studio in Frisco
Vive Float Studio
What: The first float studio in Summit County, featuring three private spaces with showers, benches and float rooms filled with 1,000 pounds of magnesium water
Where: 720 Summit Blvd., Ste. 101A in Frisco
Features: Three float studios, private showers, quiet room with couches and reading materials, front boutique with natural goods and remedies
Cost: $68 for residents, $98 for non-residents
Each session includes a six-minute pre-rinse, 60-minute float and six-minute post-rinse. Clients are welcome to stay in the quiet room as long as they like after a session. The resident rate is available anytime for Summit County and Eagle County residents. Sessions are not yet covered by insurance, but the owner is working on it. For more info, call the studio at see the website at www.vivefloatstudio.com.
Athletes know well the sound of their own breath. But even the most avid runners and cyclists have never heard it like this.
After about 10 minutes in a float room at Vive Float Studio in Frisco, owner Andi Sigler suggests silencing the meditative music and dimming the warm, colored lights to truly feel the effects of sensory deprivation. It seems a little scary at first — when did you last spend time floating in total darkness? — but, another 10 minutes into the 60-minute session, your mind and body seem to waft away, leaving only your breath and heartbeat.
And, for the first time I can remember, I heard the ticks and twitches and wrinkles of my body without the underlying stress of pounding dirt or pavement or snow.
I could get used to this, I thought.
“This is the closest you’ll get to being back in the womb,” said Sigler, who opened her studio about a year ago and recently started reaching out to die-hard athletes: runners, cyclists, triathletes, skiers — everyone. “It’s an embryonic experience and I think that’s one thing people like. It’s the only form of therapy that simultaneously works on the mind and the body at the same time.”
The way Sigler sees it, all serious athletes treat their bodies like temples. They keep to a strict diet and even stricter training regimen, sometimes fitting two or three workouts into a single day. The smartest also take time to rest — it’s mandatory for any high-level athlete — but it rarely involves more than plenty of sleep and a sauna or steam room. Maybe the occasional massage, if they’re lucky.
Float therapy is on a different level, and Sigler’s brainchild is far from your average float studio. At Vive, the experience begins in the front lobby, where she greets clients in person before taking them on a brief tour of the intimate and thoroughly modern facility. Just past the lobby is the quiet room, a small, warmly lit room filled with plush couches and books on the wide world of float therapy. If all waiting rooms were this welcoming, the world would be a better place.
Old therapy, new clientele
Now, float therapy is hardly a new concept. People have been using float tanks for meditation and regenerative therapy since the ’60s, but only in the past decade or so have practitioners like Sigler moved away from the typical spa experience — think manicures and massages along with a float session — to instead focus on folks who work hard and play hard, usually at the same time. In other words, her studio is made for Summit County locals, the sort who hardly slow down between a morning bike commute and afternoon kayak runs.
Vive is home to three float rooms, rather than traditional tanks. As Sigler explains, the tanks tend to feel claustrophobic from the start, with a cocoon-like lid that sits inches away from a client’s face. At her studio, the owner opted instead for large rooms, each with an attached shower to rinse off in private before stepping into the water.
“The rooms are the future, if you ask me,” said Sigler, noting that each room is 4.5-by-8 feet with a contoured ceiling to make getting in and out easy — and roomy. “They’re four times more than a tank, and, as rapidly as this is growing, I didn’t want to invest in pods or tanks. It was a risk, but it was good risk.”
The 3 benefits of aqua therapy
Once in the room, the water feels like normal bath water, but, oh, it’s so much more. Each pool is filled with 1,000 pounds of magnesium, which acts as an exfoliating cleanser, much like the Dead Seas, where Sigler first discovered the benefits of float therapy.
Aside from the rich mineral mix — every room is thoroughly cleaned after each session, so much that doing something dumb like peeing during a session earns a $500 charge — the water itself acts on three levels.
“This is our gold,” Sigler simply said.
First comes hydrostatic pressure, a fancy term for the gentle weight of water. This can mitigate tissue swelling in joints and muscles by improving venous return, according to Eric Dube, a certified physical therapist with Howard Head.
Next comes buoyancy. Dube often uses active aqua therapy in local pools to help off-load irritated joints and tense muscles. The impact is enormous: Weight bearing is reduced by 50 percent at waist depth and up to 90 percent at neck depth, which means a float session is as close to outer space as most people will ever get.
Finally is the viscosity. Dense water provides resistance during exercise, giving your muscles a gentle workout much different than running on flat ground or lifting weights. During a float session, the extremely dense magnesium water is viscous enough to nearly feel like a warm blanket — or the womb, as Sigler says.
“The sensory component aids with recovery,” Sigler said. “You don’t have to fight gravity or any other force, and when you spend so much time standing upright we want to remove that…. Your blood is getting to the exact part of your body that needs healing, called a hot spot. That’s why it can be so incredible for athletes.”
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