Zero to Sixty in Nine Months

It was just around tax day, mid April of 2015. My fiancé (boyfriend at the time) told me that we were doing "something different" for our next date night.  He went on to explain ... we were going to try this thing called sensory deprivation or "floating" in a dark, soundproof tank for sixty minutes. I remember feeling confused and I'm sure I had a puzzled look on my face.  I thought to myself - why the hell would we want to do this?  With no disrespect, the way he described it sounded completely unappealing.  He had never steered me wrong before and I pride myself on being an adventurer so I reluctantly agreed and awaited the date.

A few days before our appointment, we shared dinner with a couple of my high school friends and I couldn't help myself but to let them know about our upcoming adventure. It was almost as if I had to tell so someone would know where we were last seen in case we didn't come out of the tanks alive. Carrie and Tricia, my friends, looked like I felt - bewildered but curious. They insisted that we let them know how this crazy tank thing worked out and I joked about maybe never seeing them again to share.

I sent them a FACEBOOK message a few days before:

 My fearful pre-float message to my girlfriends. 

My fearful pre-float message to my girlfriends. 

Float time had arrived - we drive up to what I now know to be the longest running float center in the country, Spacetime Tanks in Chicago. I have to say, this was one of the most unique places in an even more unique building - just minutes away from where I was about to finish grad school at DePaul University.  Spacetime rocks a new age vibe and is situated deep in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.  I am sure the owners can sense first time floaters a mile away - silly questions about mutant monkeys and looks of apprehension can't be uncommon. I felt like a fish out of water in this place as I was never one who could relax easily and the people sitting here in the lobby all look so calm and peaceful. No one was even on their phone! It was so bizarre. So awesomely bizarre.

I have spent the last decade as a "Big Data" enterprise software professional - doing it long before the term "big data" became a thing. I am constantly plagued with easy accessibility and connectivity. Wired to everyone and everything all the time.  Hell my nickname is GO-GO. I'm never still, always busy, always on.  This was about to change. For at least sixty minutes anyway.

I wouldn't classify myself as claustrophobic but I didn't like the idea of being in a strange place in a steel box with a door that is closed at my head. I was weirded out for the first 10-15 minutes for sure. I thought I was going to hyperventilate at one point and even had to open the door for a minute to make sure I wasn't blasting off. 

When the awkwardness subsided I was calm and still. I felt my heartbeat and became aware of some interesting things. Multi-colored flickers of light and faces in the "sky" of the tank were popping up as I opened my eyes.  This was a really cool feeling and I remember trying to see more. Then I realized I was trying. I then told myself not to try. A surreal internal dialogue with myself ensued - a full conversation with no spoken word. The raw experience at Spacetime comes to an end when you hear three knocks on the tank. You knock back to let them know you heard them and agree to get out. That's it. Back to reality. Where's my phone? I so need to tell people they need to try this at least once. 

My unedited report: 

 Exuding excitement about the impact of floating on my sleep. 

Exuding excitement about the impact of floating on my sleep. 

"I slept harder last night than I can ever remember" - this was the most impactful takeaway from my first float session. I now understand the science behind this - soaking your tired body in 1,000 lbs of dissolved Epsom Salts is no joke. My muscles loved me and thanked me for this sixty minute soak party. Who knew? Apparently very few people in my circles. 

My circles are big circles. Slews of hard working, tired, middle aged people chasing our kids and chasing our tails with no idea of how fast we are really going. Do we ever stop? We are high energy, high performing and high stress professionals. I am not one who could ever meditate - I want to be but I'm just not wired that way. This floating seemed "far out" and yes, I'll say it again, weird. How is it that an hour long activity with so much relaxation power is something people only heard about through some obscure movie called "Altered States"? I was on a mission to spread the word. I was also on a mission to float again. Over and over, all around the country.

Maybe I'll buy one for the house?

{Searches Google: Float Tank Cost}

Holy sh@t! These contraptions are expensive! There are even cool pod-like tanks with lights! I may need to invite my friends to use my tank to justify that kind of money. Hmmm.

{Searches Google: Float Tank Business}

Wow! There are a lot of float centers out there! Portland seems to have it going on! There are some cool cats from a place called "Float On" that will even help you figure out if you can handle this business?? Hey now Chicago - up for a new float studio?!

Timeline:

April 15, 2015 - Never Heard of Floating

April 17, 2015 - First Float, Spacetime Tanks

May 2015 - Formed C-Corp, Float Sixty (dozens of names considered - Float - Sixty Minutes = Simple), Float like crazy

June 2015 - Apprentice Program, float like crazy, first eight hour float, Architecture and Branding firms retained, GC Search begins, finish my masters at DePaul  

July 2015 - Location Identified, Location Denied, Location Identified, Location Denied, float like crazy, attend Tony Robbins "Unleash the Power Within" - on one rare break from the conference I am so motivated that I set up a call with my bosses and resign after ten years of working with same IT company, buy three float tanks. 

August 2015 - Location identified, LOI Accepted, Lease in progress, gather rest of personal savings to self-fund project. Hire first full time employee, attend first Float Conference, GC identified

September 2015 - Lease Executed, Receive amazing referral for Studio Director, with team in place confidently start new position at startup Big Data firm

October 2015 - Possession of Space, Construction kicks off, enter industry float contest for first time float center owners 

November 2015 - Construction in progress, Go to PARIS, skip that soccer game that would have put us next to the first of several terrorist attacks, get engaged November 14th, the day after the day we will never ever forget, learn I am a finalist in industry float contest 

December 2015 - Construction continues, apply for emergency backup construction loan on personal guarantee, continue construction

January 2016 - Construction ends, buy two more float tanks. backup loan approved by SBA, City of Chicago Final Inspections Approved

February 2016 - Float Sixty Opens doors to first guests with five float suites and one meditation room, retail

 Leaking the news on the new business venture to my friends.  

Leaking the news on the new business venture to my friends.  

First Float to Float Sixty - nine months. This has been a feat of epic proportions and it feels amazing to get to this point. I can't wait to share the most unique form of relaxation with the world.   

 The Float Sixty team - from left: ME, Randy: GC with my dog Lola, Lindsey: Exec Admin, Lisa: Director of Studio Operations, Alexa: Research Curator/Shift Manager, Scott:Studio Super, Gina: Float Coordinator (Not Pictured)

The Float Sixty team - from left: ME, Randy: GC with my dog Lola, Lindsey: Exec Admin, Lisa: Director of Studio Operations, Alexa: Research Curator/Shift Manager, Scott:Studio Super, Gina: Float Coordinator (Not Pictured)

 My "doodle"  on hotel stationary scribbled on the plane from Paris to Chicago. Truly reflects the gamut of emotions we experienced during this time in this amazing city

My "doodle"  on hotel stationary scribbled on the plane from Paris to Chicago. Truly reflects the gamut of emotions we experienced during this time in this amazing city