Massage therapist Alma Sander stands in front of a flotation tank at her Float Tank & Massage Studio in Mossville. She said floating in 800 pounds of Epsom salt in the tank—the only one in Central Illinois–promotes relaxation and provides many health benefits. Photo by Elise Zwicky
Floating in a small, completely darkened tank of water filled with 800 pounds of Epsom salt might seem a little too New Age for Central Illinois, but massage therapist Alma Sander’s float tank in Mossville draws clients from as far away as St. Louis and Iowa.
“Flotation tanks are more popular out west, but people here are finding it helpful for meditative and relaxation purposes, as well as for pain relief and to help with stress and anxiety,” said Sander, a licensed massage therapist. “I have athletes coming in before and after running a marathon.”
Sander’s business, Metamorphosis Float Tank & Massage Studio on Moss Road, offers the only float tank in this area. She bought it in August 2012 after floating herself for the first time in Chicago, the closest Illinois city to have one.
“I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I decided to try it, and I liked it so well that I had one installed at my place a month later,” she said.
First invented in the ‘50s, the float tank is an enclosed 8-foot-long pool containing 10 inches of water warmed to body temperature. The Epsom salt allows a body to float with the face out of the water, simulating a gravity-free environment.
“You shut the door behind you, and you float in complete darkness unless you choose to leave the door open,” Sander said. “I personally like it dark and quiet.”
Sander points to many scientific studies that seem to show regular floating may decrease blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen consumption and muscular tension, as well as help increase a person’s tolerance for stress.
“I’m in there at least once a week. I even think it can help prevent a cold or lessen the length of a cold if you already have one,” she said. “I’m usually in there for an hour or two, but once I stayed in for four hours because I fell asleep. It was the most relaxed I have ever been. Some people say they find enlightenment or have an out-of-body experience, but most just find total relaxation.”
Sander currently has three regular clients who float weekly or monthly, a few athletes who come in before or after a competition and lots of curiosity seekers who try it once or twice.”
One client, a daycare worker and photographer, was skeptical at first but has found “she can just empty her mind and completely relax,” Sander said. “She also thinks it enhances her creativity.”
Sander said the float tank is more hygienic than most spas or swimming pools due to the high concentration of Epsom salt. The water is sterilized using pool grade hydrogen peroxide, multiple filtration and a UV sterilization system after each use. All users must shower before and after floating.
Float prices range from $40 for an hour to $75 for two hours. Sander also offers a two-hour float/massage package for $75. For more information, visit her website at www.almasanderlandis.massagetherapy.com or