Floating Stress Away 2

A New Type of Float Pool is 
Set to Arrive at H2Oasis

The concept of floating as a relaxation tool isn’t new, as Oklahoman Jay Shurley built the first float tank nearly 60 years ago. Today, float therapy has become increasingly popular, said Dr. Justin Feinstein, a clinical neuropsychologist with the Laureate Institute for Brain Research.

“There’s been a resurgence in floating,” he said. “Over the course of six years, we’ve gone from a few dozen float centers in the United States to a few hundred.”

Though floating has traditionally taken place within enclosed tanks, British company Floataway has created an open floatation pool, which provides the ability to relax and meditate without the enclosure. One of the first in the country was installed at LIBR — though that’s only for use in Dr. Feinstein’s floatation studies.

Later this month, the general Tulsa public will be able to experience floatation pools for the first time at H2Oasis Float Center & Tea House, a new relaxation center set to open soon at The Farm Shopping Center at 51st Street and Sheridan Avenue.

Owners Deb Worthington, Connie Swan and Bob Klunder are longtime float enthusiasts, and Worthington said she sought out float chambers every time she went on vacation. Since floatation involves heavily-salted water, floaters don’t have to spend any effort staying in position.

“While you’re talking with me, you’re expending energy talking to me, staying upright, and everything else that you’re not aware of it,” she said. “When you’ve floated and gotten to that de-stressed, altered state, your body feels amazing,” she said.

Worthington and her partners wanted to open a float center in Tulsa, but with several recently opened in Oklahoma, they wanted H2Oasis to offer some attractive twists. The biggest will be three pools — one completely open and two with eight-foot ceilings which are also designed by Floataway.

She said the pools will be great for people with claustrophobia, and at eight feet in diameter, they could be open to couples.

“A pregnant woman and her husband could get in there,” Worthington said. “You’ll feel like you’re in the womb, and the baby’s in the womb. All you’ll hear are your heartbeats.”

Feinstein, who has no connection to H2Oasis but supports the business, said circular float tanks can provide a better experience for many people.

“Often in rectangular tanks, you’ll bump into the sides,” he said. “With circular tanks, the natural waves make it easier to stay centered.”

As the floating experience generally involves blockout out as much outside stimulation as possible, the owners have had to make some extensive modifications to their space to accommodate the open pools.

All the walls, as well as the ceiling, have been rebuilt to double-thickness to make each room soundproof. The floors are a custom material that’s easy to clean and non-slip.

Since some floaters prefer the snug, womb-like feel of a traditional floatation pod, H2Oasis will have one available as well.

Floating won’t be the only component to H2Oasis. The 4,300-square-foot facility will be larger than regular float centers and feature luxurious spa finishings as well as plenty of extras.

For example, the business will feature two practitioner rooms for massage therapists or alternative medicine, and spaces for stretching, workshops, meditation or simple relaxation after a float.

“Rather than rush out and lose your post-float glow all at once, we want people to be able to go into another room and enjoy that state a little longer,” Worthington said.

H2Oasis will also sport an outdoor patio and teahouse that will feature a wide selection of teas and herbal elixirs, as well as an oxygen bar and aromatherapy options.

They’ll also offer bakery items courtesy of Katy’s pantry, a new bakery that’s also located in The Farm.

Worthington said Tulsa is a surprisingly strong area for floating, thanks in part to LIBR’s research.

“The whole floating community is looking at Tulsa,” she said.

Though LIBR’s float studies are very new — the Float Clinic and Research Center just opened last May — Feinstein said he’s hoping to gain a deeper understanding of what floating does to the body via wireless heart rate, breathing, movement, blood pressure and brain activity sensors.

“We want to understand how the float experience is reducing levels of stress and anxiety in both the body and the brain,” he said.

To volunteer for LIBR’s floatation study, call 918-240-2583 or email CWohlrab@libr.net.