A floating and sensory deprivation studio has proven popular in Chicago's River North neighborhood, getting booked weeks in advanced and lining up notable clients like Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
Float Sixty is owned by Gloria Morris, a St. John resident.
Now she's expanding the wellness business to include locations in the South Loop and Schererville. She's looking to open a Float Sixty at 321 Indianapolis Blvd. in a professional complex across from Omni Health & Fitness in September. Construction will take several months because of all of the plumbing involved and the steps needed to create serene, sound-proof "cabins" in which customers float.
It will have private shallow pools, about a foot deep, that are filled with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts that will allow people to float effortlessly for 60 minutes, with or without light and music. The idea is to reduce sensory stimulation as much as possible, and total darkness and quiet is an option.
Morris, whose background was in information technology, became a believer as soon as she tried floating in 2015.
"It changed my life," she said. "It stopped me in my tracks. ... Epsom salts are so high in magnesium one can't not float. It requires nothing to stay buoyant. It's relaxing and assists in muscle recovery for athletes. Anyone with pain can find some relief floating in a bath of Epsom salt."
The flotation tanks were developed in the 1950s and have recently caught on as a wellness concept. The biggest benefit is relaxation, Morris said.
"It lowers your cortisol, dials down your fight-or-flight, and puts you in a state of calm," she said. "It helped me sleep. It's refreshing and great after an athletic performance or a very stressful workout. It's a natural muscle relaxer, and floating affects your brain. Nothing's coming at you. Your distractions are left at the door."
Float spas have been cropping up across the country in places like New York City, Seattle, Portland and Madison, Wisconsin. Morris said it's grown from only about 10 float centers in the country to more than 300 over the last few years. Float Sixty has proven popular with a wide range of customers in Chicago, including athletes and professionals.
Customers just like to unplug for an hour.
"Chicago's an urban, overstimulated environment," he said. "There's a chaotic nature to being in the city, and high levels of stress."
Morris said she believes Northwest Indiana is ready for such a service, given a growing interest in wellness that's evidenced by the growing amount of bicycle trails in the Region. She said it has wide appeal to many demographics, including high school athletes, stressed out adults and even seniors.
Some have even used it for "hyper-learning" or studying without any distractions, such as listening to Rosetta Stone foreign language recordings or while preparing for a Bar Exam.
Customers have to book appointments in advance and can also buy memberships. Sixty-minute sessions cost $80, or $60 for the first time. She's focused on the expansions to Schererville and the South Loop, but is looking at potential further growth through the Chicago suburbs.
"People want to feel calm," she said. "They need to detox from their phone and computers."
For more information, call 844-356-2860 or visit www.floatsixty.com.