Welcome to Float Harder, my name is Stacy Howe and I hail from Worcester, Massachusetts and moved to Portland in 2008. I am one of the newest members of the team. Since I began working at Float Harder in December 2018 I have floated 31 times and counting! I am a fine artist when I am not facilitating your float experience.
Floating helps me solidify my creative ideas. My artist practice has me doing a lot of high definition drawing and cutting paper and has taken its toll on my body. I hold so much tension in my hands and jaw while I am making work. The strain on my eyes is also intense. While floating my muscles unravel and that tension dissipates. After I feel rejuvenated and ready to draw again with clear vision.
In the tank I like to have complete darkness and then wake up to a color. When I chose the rainbow option it is a surprise to see what I wake up to. As for sound I am a fan of white noise. I often us my own collection of sounds like sonar, spring peepers, or low deep tones. The thunder storm track we offer at the shop is a major staple and a favorite of many of our guests.
When I am not floating I am usually working on one artistic endeavor or another. I watch horror films and enjoy going to experimental music performances.
self portrait pre-float by Stacy Howe mixed media 2015 45" X 36 1/2"
collage drawing with ink, charcoal, and acrylic, with prints
Floating takes practice.
Doing absolutely nothing for 90 minutes can prove to be a challenging task. The good news? It gets easier!
The best but possibly most difficult aspect about your float is that YOU are in complete control of your float! The float tank is just the vessel that facilitates your experience. Although there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to achieving a "great float", here are a few pro-tips and tricks that you can use to help you get the most out of your float.
Before your float:
Eat a light meal.
You definitely do not want to be hungry while you're in a float tank, nor do you want to be really full! When you take away all sensory input, your growling stomach can not only be uncomfortable but also incredibly distracting.
Its best to steer clear from caffeinated beverages a few hours before you float. Otherwise, you will find yourself bouncing off the walls (quite literally).
Avoid shaving and cover any small cuts or scrapes.
With over 1000 lbs. of Epsom salt in each float tank, any abrasion to the skin will sting at first. This only lasts a few minutes, but will help you to be much more comfortable when you get in.
Be hydrated, but don't drink too much!
Although you can get out at any time to use the restroom, you don't want to have to!
Go work out!
Epsom salt is known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as moving lactic acid out of sore muscles. You can optimize the benefits of your float with a good work out right beforehand!
Don't rush in.
Create some time before and after your float to ensure that you're not rushing to relax. We have wonderful tea and great books to read in our lounge, you're welcome to come early and stay late.
During your float:
Keep a towel handy and avoid touching your face.
Be Prepared! You want to be very careful not to get salt in your eyes, but it happens to the best of us. We recommend keeping your wash cloth next to the eye rinse spray bottle in case you do get salt in your eyes, everything you need is handy.
You can start this before you even arrive! Tuning into your breath is a powerful tool to help you be more present and help calm your nervous system. Any deep breathing exercise is great, but if you don't already know one, we recommend slowly counting backwards from 100 with a BIG breath in between each count. Bet you don't make it far before finding yourself in a deeply relaxed state!
Let go of any expectations about your experience. Everyone floats for different reasons, but the float tank will give you what you need. Falling asleep in a tank is not a wasted float! Once you think you've let go, let go a little more.
After your float:
Don't rush out.
A lot of people don't realize how relaxed they are when they first jump out. Recent studies have found that the relaxation response and the full effects of your float can continue setting in up to 30 minutes after your float ends and can last for hours or even days after. So enjoy a cup of tea and relax in the lounge after your float.
From the earliest stage of our business planning, we've kept a list. The list is all the people who have lifted us up along the way and helped us to start this business. Certainly we've missed a person or two here or there and for that, please accept our apologies! We had grand ideas of delicate, thoughtful, handwritten thank you notes that would be distributed immediately following our opening. I swore that I wouldn't wait until November to share thanks with the MANY who have helped us get to this point.
I guess we didn't fully understand just how COMPLETELY time consuming owning and operating a business would be. These days we're either busy with lots of floaters or busy trying to figure out how to attract lots of floaters. Oh well, it's November and there are no handwritten notes, but here goes! In loose, chronological order.
Larry Mitchell - THANK YOU! We are so happy that we reached out to SCORE and were paired with you. The knowledge and support you share with us is more than we could thank you for. Having our meetings with you meant that we HAD to have progress to show and that kept us motivated each week. We would not have kept such a bold pace without your advice, you truly pushed us along.
Stephen Flowers - Thank you for giving us your time and attention and looking at our (at the time) unfinished business plan with an open mind. Thanks for facilitating our meeting with Michelle and for taking us seriously, when most were looking at us like we had multiple heads.
Frank at Bouchard and Associates Inc. Thank you for your accounting advice from the very beginning. You've been a trusted advisor to our family for many years and we look forward to working with you for many more.
Gravy - Thanks for your constant counseling and advice. As a fellow young entrapanuer, you lead by example, showing us what it means to pour all of your energy and effort into growing your business.
Friends from all over the place - Thank you so much for supporting our crowdfunding, rooting us on and wearing your Float Harder gear proudly!
Sean Fluet - Thanks for your expert advice even after your work day had ended. It was quite a lucky thing for us that you moved in when you did. It's so good to know you!
Crowdfunders - Thank you to everyone who made contributions to our Crowdfunding campaign. We were overwhelmed that so many of you were willing to take the leap and back us!
Leanne - Thank you for donating your time and valuable advice. We feel so fortunate that you were there for us along the way. Thanks for stopping by to check in on us and spreading the good word about floating!
Portland - Thank you to our neighbors and all the area business' that partner with us and support what we're doing. We didn't know anyone in Portland when we started planning this business. Everyone has been so welcoming and supportive, we've made so many good friends!
These first seven months have been an absolute whirlwind, but we're having a blast. We're so happy to help people feel their best and to be a part of this great community! THANK YOU!
Amy & James Harder (and Charlie!)
We get this question A LOT so we felt inspired to make a quick blog post discussing the differences in these two types of float tanks.
The pod and the room, essentially, provide the same floatation experience. They are both designed to float your body in roughly ten inches of skin temperature, heavily salinated (Epsom salt) water. They are simply shaped differently. Float tanks come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. A lot of people assume that these are small tanks with a lid right over your face (like a tanning bed or an MRI), but this isn't the case, they are large and spacious!
Leaving the lid open completely is possible, but will most likely cause you to feel cold and this can be difficult to ignore. If you're someone who tends to get cool easily you might want to try a float room as they tend to feel a little warmer and a bit more humid.
Our float rooms offer a bigger, more open option for floating. They are hard to photograph because of the way they are built into the wall. You step though a door into the enclosed tub. We have two different size float rooms, Standard and Deluxe! Some people ask if you use the rooms standing up, you don't. You use the room the same way you use the pod or any other modern float tank, you lay down and just float.
The Standard Float Room: is 8 feet long and 4.5 feet wide. It has a high ceiling, reaching 7 feet. It's a bit bigger than the pod, but it's the same price as the pods 65.
The Deluxe Float Room: is 8 feet long and 6 feet 3 inches wide! It also has a 7 foot ceiling. The Deluxe is large enough that it can be used by one or two people. Pricing is a little different on this tank because of all the extra salt, water and energy it requires. Single occupancy is 75, Double occupancy is 100
Well... those are the basic differences in the pod vs. the room. Most people do have a preference after trying both, but it's pretty split which they prefer!
Introducing... The Halo!
Ok, float enthusiasts. This is the sort of thing we geek out about around here! We got some new equipment to help enhance your float.
You've tried floating a few times now and you really liked it, buuuuut there was some tension in your neck still so you tried the pillow. Ohhh the pillow, designed for your snoozing comfort on an airplane so it must be the perfect fit for your float tank journey! I'm kidding, sure they did the trick, but when you put this much effort into helping people experience true nothingness; the feeling of a thick, wet, ever leaking air cushion hoisting your neck and head up out of the water and out of alignment can be pretty distracting.
Introducing... Floatease - The Halo!
So if you're wondering where the old, soggy airline pillows are, reach for The Halo and give it a try. During testing, we found that almost everyone prefers The Halo!
"It truly is remarkable for the mind, body, and soul," says Shelby, who has floated twice since Float Harder opened. "I would like to be able to do it once every four to six weeks. For me, it makes me feel very relaxed as it's great for meditation and clearing of the mind. I feel rejuvenated after floating. The Epsom salts are very good for your skin."
The Epsom salt is also what makes floating effortless. About a thousand pounds of Epsom salts are added to roughly ten inches of water in each float tank or pod, keeping your body completely buoyant. The water and air in the pod are heated to 93.5 degrees, the approximate temperature of the outside of your skin. You have control of the door and the light inside the tank. With the door closed and the light off, it is completely dark, and you are free from all distractions.
Float tanks aren't a new phenomenon. Neuropsychiatrist John C. Lilly created the first "isolation tank" in 1954 at the National Institute of Mental Health to study the effect of sensory deprivation on the brain. He hypothesized that if all external stimuli are cut off then the brain would go to sleep, but he found that a surprising amount of cognitive activity takes place in the absence of stimuli. Later research delved into the therapeutic benefits of floating, and today, float therapy is enjoying a surge in popularity.
In the Q&A below, Shelby talks about her first floating experience.
How did you discover floating and what prompted you to try it?
A friend of mine had written an article about her son, discussing the benefits he had received from floating, and I was intrigued since I had never heard of it. I contributed to a Kickstarter project and received a free float, which I gave to my husband to try (to date he's been 3 times). He's a self-employed web developer, so floating has really helped tightness in his lower back due to long hours sitting at his desk.
What was your first time in the tank like?
There are three float rooms at Float Harder – two pods and room with a larger float tank. The first time I went, I tried one of the pods. I didn't really know what to expect, but the amount of Epsom salts they add to the tank is so significant, it literally is effortless to float. I equate it to what it would feel like to be in a weightless environment, perhaps like outer space.
Was it totally dark and silent, or did you have lights and music?
I was able to choose the color of lighting and music I wanted to experience while inside the pod, but I was also able to turn the light and music off and be in a completely dark and quiet environment. I thought I might be a little uncomfortable trying complete silence and darkness, but I actually like it better than having lights and music. It really depends on how I'm feeling at the time.
Were you nervous or claustrophobic?
I was worried I would get claustrophobic if I shut the hatch to the pod, but I never felt confined or anxious. My neighbor went with me the first time I floated. It was her first time as well, and she was certain she would be claustrophobic in the pod. She told me she definitely would not be closing the hatch to the pod, but when we met each other in the waiting room after the session, she said she ended up closing the hatch entirely within the first five minutes.
How long were you in the pod?
The sessions are 90 minutes, and I thought I would be ready to get out earlier than that. However, the time went by so fast that when the session was over, I wished I had more time! I also dozed off occasionally, which before I floated I thought would be dangerous, but you can't drown – it's impossible for your head to go underwater.
I remember sitting in the hard plastic seats of an outdoor stadium in New Haven, CT in ninety degree weather, listening to Sting's wife give the commencement speech to the SCSU Undergraduates. My robe was soaked in sweat and I could feel my skin burning right through the thin, black material. I had lead a misguided youth (misguided by my own doing, but misguided nonetheless) and this was the first time in my life that I had ever tried... at anything. Honestly, I quit Girl Scouts the moment I crossed the 'Brownie Bridge', I quit majorettes, and cheering. I quit track twice, and field hockey three out of five years. Sure, I had graduated high school, but with below average grades and zero strikes left on the 'three strikes, you're out' policy held by the semi-private high school that I attended. Now, I had cords, and a sash, and pins! I didn't half ass this, I had tried really hard. College was one of the first things I'd ever completed and I crushed it with a 3.72 average. On this day, I thought to myself, "getting through college is the hardest thing I've ever done".
Well, fast forward... again, this time two years. I'm standing on top of Mt. Katahdin, the Northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. James and I have just completed a six month, 2,185.9 mile thru-hike. I'm in the best shape I've ever been in, I'm beaming with pride and excitement. Equal parts "Did we really just thru-hike the Appalachian Trail?" and "Did James really just propose to me?". On that day, I thought "this really is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life".
We're so proud of this space that we've created to enjoy with the community. We're excited to share ideas about floating and its many benefits with anyone who will listen! I look forward to the next time... probably a few years from now, maybe on a mountain top, when I'll chuckle and think to myself... "This is the hardest thing I've ever done!"
Writen by Amy Harder