This past Christmas, my brother and I gave each other gift certificates for the rather unusual experience of sensory depravation, also known as 90 minutes in a floattank. Basically, a float tank is a 4-by-8-foot pod filled with 850 pounds of epsom salt and 200 gallons of water, and is maintained at 98.6 degrees.
Once you hop in the enclosed tank (buck naked, I might add), you float like a cork in total darkness, and, according to those in the know, you have no choice but to relax, as myriad health benefits consume your naked being.
And that is exactly what I expected to happen. Except that it didn’t. Because I kept putting my visit off.
In the beginning, I was waiting on warmer weather. Once spring arrived, I waited for the perfect day—when carving out more than a couple of hours to do nothing would go unnoticed. When the day came that I finally called to schedule my appointment, I learned the float tank had been sold, right out from under me.
I was near despondency. Because a. I really, really wanted to do this, and 2. my brother had already used his visit, so FOMO, or the fear of missing out, was kicking in. Even though I was ready to take full responsibility for delaying my float tank visit, I still had a few expectations. Namely that the float tank would be there waiting on me when I was ready, and not in the back of a pick-up truck headed for Florida.
Anyway, the owner of the gym was incredibly accommodating and offered me a few sessions in his infrared sauna.
I gotta tell ya. It doesn’t take much thought to conclude that an infrared sauna visit carries nowhere near the mystique of floating in a vat of salt. But I said yes in short order, just in case he decided to sell the sauna, too.
According to articles I’d read on the internet (and on the electronic control panel inside the sauna) I could choose the benefits I wanted to receive, and they’d be astounding: relaxation, weight loss, anti-aging, pain reduction, and detox among them. Translation: I’d be sweating profusely—possibly melting into a puddle right there on the wooden sauna floor—within the first 30 seconds. But if it meant less wrinkles, instant weight loss, and no more aches and pains, melting into a puddle would be a small price to pay, right?
The first 10 minutes or so passed without much fanfare. Oh, who am I kidding? I was bored. So I occupied my time by monitoring the countdown timer and thermostat, the latter of which had risen to about 115-degrees Fahrenheit at this point.
I realized that this transformation I was expecting wasn’t happening. At least not as I’d envisioned it. Because as high as the temperatures rose, I Never. Broke. A sweat.
Even as the temperatures climbed well into the 100s, I experienced no outward signs of efficacy.
I resigned myself to the fact that maybe infrared saunas just weren’t my thing. At one point, I thought I detected the slightest bit of sweat on my forehead. But it turned out to be wishful thinking on my part.
As I was driving home, I remembered reading that some people noticed an improvement in their skin’s appearance, an afterglow of sorts. Never one to rule out the possibilities—or give up all hope—I decided to check it out when I got home.
Sure enough, when I looked in the mirror, I did detect a more dewy appearance on my face. Maybe those 40 minutes hadn’t been lost after all. And while I’d much rather have spent 90 minutes as a cork, I’d found a point of redemption for the infrared sauna, albeit minuscule.
Needless to say, the whole experience wasn’t without a few lessons learned.
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Otherwise, the opportunity could hitch a ride to Florida if you wait.
Be realistic and measured in your expectations—when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Oh— and one last thing. Apparently that wasn’t an infrared afterglow I saw in the mirror. It was just combination skin.