Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • August 2018
Written by 

Jane floats to a new level of relaxation and mindfulness

Floating, also known as sensory deprivation and float or flotation therapy, is by no means new on the wellness scene. People have been floating for decades, and research shows health benefits can include pain and stress relief, help with insomnia and injury recovery, not to mention its meditative quality. When I learned about a new flotation therapy space called Buoy coming to downtown Neenah, I knew it was my chance to try something I’ve heard so much about.

In full disclosure, I went into my first float with an open mind but was also skeptical and nervous. I’ve never been a huge fan of baths, and my naive perception of the process was that it was like that. (I was wrong!)

I easily made an appointment at Buoy. You can do so online or by calling. After you’ve done so, they send a helpful list of tips to prepare for your float. Things like what to avoid prior: shaving, waxing and coloring your hair, and consuming alcohol or caffeine, for example. You can wear a bathing suit if you’d like, but floating nude is typical — you’re in a private room with your own shower during your float.

Because it was my first time, I arrived 15 minutes early to fill out a simple form and to get acquainted with the space. Buoy is in the basement of a beautiful historic building and being in the lower level, plus its tasteful and simple décor was the perfect combination. I loved the aesthetic.

Jolene was friendly and helpful while giving me a quick tour to explain the order of things. She let me know what her first time floating was like, which was helpful as a newbie not knowing what to expect. They ask that you remove your makeup and wash your hair and body before getting into the float pod to avoid any oils mixing in the saltwater. The spa-like overhead shower itself was relaxing, and the makeup remover, shampoo and bodywash they provide all smelled amazing. Earplugs and a neck rest are there for your float, and also a towel to use afterward.

Calling the flotation devices at Buoy “pods” is accurate, but it doesn’t quite do these pools justice. The Evolution Orb I was in was roomy, immaculate, bright white and looked futuristic while still being comforting. You can customize your float to your taste. I tried all the settings more than once during my 60-minute float to see what I liked best. I preferred the soothing music on, the stars on the ceiling illuminated and the actual pod light off. The walls are sound resistant so if you’d rather, you can have a completely dark, silent float.

The water inside the pod (about 10 inches) is skin temperature, and the more than 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt is totally undetectable. This makes for a unique sensation – or lack thereof, as this is where the “sensory deprivation” term comes in. I simultaneously felt like I was floating in outer space and the middle of an ocean. I surprised myself by moving quite a bit during my float because I loved the feeling so much. The water wasn’t “moving,” it was gliding, and that gave me a sense of relaxation I had never felt before. Toward the end of the float, I realized I had been smiling the whole time as it occurred to me I couldn’t tell where my skin above and below the water began and ended.

A pleasant automated voice let me know when my float was over and instructed me to ease out of the pod. It’s common for people to fall into deep states of relaxation and even doze off, so this is a great transition. I was just too interested and in awe to fall asleep this first time. As I got out, I actually said, “that was cool” out loud to myself!

I then showered again and washed and conditioned my hair with the same products I loved pre-float. During this time, I noticed the Orb beginning to filter the saltwater, which ensures the environment is safe and clean for the next floater.

Buoy has a post-float lounge to enjoy after your float, a comfortable space to just “be.” Down the hall is another room full of large mirrors to get ready and back into your day. They suggest you bring a hairbrush and any makeup you’d like to reapply, etc. and provide hair dryers if you choose to use them.

As I was retouching my hair and makeup, Jolene made it a point to check on me and asked what I thought. I couldn’t contain my excitement about what I had just experienced. She smiled excitedly and nodded as if to say, “See?!” I was prepared to enjoy floating, but I didn’t expect to love it. And that’s exactly what I did.

Floating is often hard to describe, and in my opinion, must be experienced to fully understand. I was told it just gets better with each float. I’m already looking forward to returning to Buoy to test that theory! 


116 S. Commercial Street Suite 010, Neenah

920-558-4033 • Instagram: @buoy.flotation


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