hope floats – infrared sauna and floatation therapy


From reading countless health and wellness blogs, as well as hearing many customer questions and comments, I have really wanted to try an infrared sauna. I googled this specific type of sauna and as it turns out, there is an infrared sauna right here in Bethesda! I made my appointment, and then showed up 30 minutes early (I tend to be anxious about new things & also tend to overestimate how much time it takes me to get somewhere). Turns out it was a good thing I showed up early because I was able to talk to the owner, Kimmie. I was expecting to enjoy the infrared sauna, but when I arrived, she explained to me a little bit about the other part of their business: flotation therapy. When she first showed me the flotation tank, I was admittedly a little terrified. But like all things that scare me, of course I had to run at it head on. I decided to do the “Total Hope Floats Experience”, which includes a 30-minute infrared sauna experience, and is followed immediately by an hour inside of the flotation therapy tank. And so my Hope Floats Experience began…

The infrared sauna was so quaint and adorable looking; it gave me the feeling of being inside a remote log cabin. There were lovely pillows and a plethora of towels located inside of the sauna. There was also music playing through the speakers so as to entertain the weary. The temperature inside of the sauna read 135 degrees, and it was hot, but it wasn’t like the humid heat that you might experience in a regular sauna. It didn’t take long for me to begin to feel my body starting to warm up, and I know it might sound crazy, but it felt like my body really was heating up from the inside out. It took me about 25 minutes to actually start sweating, and then about five minutes later, it was time for me to get out. Ideally, I would have stayed in there longer because it was so warm and felt incredible, especially in the dead cold of winter. The next step was to put on my robe and slippers (they provide these for you), and move rooms to the flotation tank room.

This was really where my adventure began because the sauna experience was pretty much exactly like I had expected. The flotation tank, however, was completely foreign to me. First, you have to shower and rinse off any oils from your hair and skin. Then you put in your earplugs so that water doesn’t get into your ears while you float. I climbed into the tank and was delicate with each motion because I just was not sure what to expect. It turns out that the water was warm, and was only about 10 inches deep. The tank itself was pretty large inside; it was very easy to move around. I initially reclined back with the tank door open, just to get my bearings and to allow myself to ease into things. When I first laid back, it was the weirdest sensation because without trying or doing anything at all, I was just floating. I imagine that this is what space must feel like – zero gravity – I felt utterly weightless (okay, that might be why I enjoyed it so much at first). After a few minutes of lying with the door open and demanding my eyes to remain shut to keep out the light, I decided to just really go for it and shut the dang door. After shutting the door to the tank, everything went black, and it was honestly pretty terrifying. I forced myself to lay back, put my head in the water, and shut my eyes. I’m sure glad I did this because after a few more minutes, the tension eased, my heart rate slowed (I know this because the rhythmic beating of my heart was the only thing I could hear in the tank), and I could finally relax. With this sensory depravation, it forces you to do nothing else but to think. There has been no place that I have ever been in my entire life that had me thinking so clearly – because really, there was nothing else to do in there for an hour. I tried all different ways of floating; initially with my hands down to my sides, and then up by my head like Kimmie had suggested, and then I laid for a while with my hands behind my head. In each position that I tried, it was interesting to feel where all of the tension was kept within my body. Since I was able to float and fully relax, I could feel how tense my upper shoulders and neck were, so by a conscious effort to relax those specific areas, it gave me a great deal of relief. The whole session didn’t feel like it was an entire hour, but for what ended up being approximately the last 8 minutes, I was pretty antsy and was just splashing around (fine… I was playing!) in the flotation tank. When the recording of the gong’s started going off, I was fully ready to get out of the tank. After I showered and dried off, I was completely aware of how relaxed I felt, how good my skin and body felt, and how much I fully believed in the benefits of the treatment I had received.

Naturally I had to research this a bit more after experiencing it so I could find out what specific benefits I might have gotten from my treatment. By isolating yourself in the flotation tank that is made with 850lbs of Epsom salts, you are able to change your alpha or beta brainwaves into theta brainwaves! This is the time at which you will experience the most amounts of creativity, clarity, and problem solving. By being in this complete mental state of calm and clear thoughts, this therapy is useful in the prevention of stress, anxiety, pain, swelling, insomnia, and jet lag. Also, due to the density difference between the salt water and our human blood, we naturally absorb the magnesium from the water. Magnesium helps to balance hormones, which can lead to better sleep, reduced stress, stronger muscles and bones, and a more hydrated, alkaline body. Science is so freaking cool. I still can’t believe how smart some people are that they can come up with these things.

I’ll definitely be going back to this spa – I’d like to do a longer infrared sauna, and definitely to try the flotation tank again. Hopefully this time, I’ll use all my time in the tank wisely, meditating, instead of playing around like a toddler in a baby pool. But then again, maybe that was therapeutic itself. Not to mention, because Kimmie, the owner, is a loyal customer at Puree. I’m a big fan of spreading the love, and Bethesda small businesses are no exception.

Want to read our other reviews? Check out Madeline’s first time at the Bethesda Salt Caves here!

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