Page 24

22-23-AFLOAT-518.qxp_WORKING 4/11/18 4:03 PM Page 22

afloat flotation therapy • UNPLUG & SUSPEND

healthy giving

• mquarterly



It’s difficult to fully articulate the experience of flotation therapy, or restricted environmental stimulation therapy (R.E.S.T.), said Vicki Westergard, founder and owner of afloat: mind + body wellness. Floating in a highly buoyant solution of warm water and Epsom salts seem simple enough to explain, but the state of deep relaxation induced by limiting sensory input is physiologically, psychologically and spiritually unique for every client. “Floating is an individualized experience, so my float is going to be completely different from your float. Anything you read about other people’s floats or watch on YouTube, that is their experience,”Westergard explained. But anyone can agree those 60 to 90 minutes of float therapy is the ultimate way to “unplug,”Westergard said. In fact, the trademarked tagline for afloat’s floatation therapy is “Unplug & Suspend.” “You need to take that time away to give your body and mind the gift to rest,” she said. People choose afloat for many reasons including to relax and rejuvenate, to relieve stress, to address chronic pain, and to provide relief from health conditions like depression and anxiety, Westergard added. Some guests find that float therapy even improves cognitive functioning and creative thinking. Research conducted by neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein at Laureate Institute for Brain Research’s Float Clinic and Research Center in Tulsa, Okla., examines the effects of flotation in people who suffer from PTSD, panic disorder and severe panic attacks, as well as social and generalized anxiety. Safe and calming: The float process begins with the guest changing into a plush robe and enjoying 15 minutes of relaxation in an air-and-vibration massage chair. A five-minute shower ensues to remove oils and hair products. Then it’s 60 to 90 minutes in a “safe and calming” private float room the size of a double bed with seven-foot ceilings—larger than a traditional flotation tank—and a shower afterward to rinse off any traces of the Epsom-salts solution. Guests are provided with basic shower supplies in their private en suite, although they are welcome to bring their own. Westergard emphasized that afloat employs a computerized automatic filtration system that also sterilizes the water with a cartridge filter, hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet (UV) light for 23 minutes after each float. One factor that distinguishes afloat from other float centers is that it offers additional, complementary services, like a full-spectrum infrared (IR) sauna. Westergard said that IR light, experienced as heat, can penetrate human tissue at the cellular level to yield many health benefits: penetrating and rejuvenating the skin’s epidermis, promoting collagen growth, healing wounds and producing a generally healthier appearance. Full-spectrum IR light can also enter soft, inflamed body tissues, promoting oxygenation, circulation and muscle relaxation by helping to expand blood vessels. She added that the therapy can also stimulate weight loss; body temperature rises under the full-spectrum infrared light, so the body works to cool itself by increasing cardiac output and metabolism as it does during exercise. Another service offered at afloat is massage to promote relaxation and wellbeing. Guests can choose from multiple types of massage: Swedish (also available for couples), hot stone, reflexology, trigger-point, lymphatic drainage technique and 22

contact: deep tissue technique. Tibetan singing 402-991-9908 • bowl therapy is also available; it creates a social: range of sounds to restore normal vibratory frequencies for the body, mind, and soul. With physician approval, afloat even Instagram: afloatwellness offers massage for pregnant women. web: In addition, afloat offers RestStation™, vibro-acoustic sound therapy treatment address: lounge. The use of low, specific sound 4131 S 84th St • Omaha frequencies of sync and binaural beats, Westergard explained, results in different brainwave responses and stimulates the body at the cellular level into healthy alignment. This therapy is the first step with a membership in the float process, but guests can also book RestStation™ separately. From individual sessions to special events: Westergard opened afloat at the end of 2016, and just celebrated the one-year anniversary of its full grand opening in February. The facility is located on east side of 84th Street just south of F Street and open Tuesday through Sunday into the evening hours. Guests can also coordinate special events. Individual sessions, membership pricing, and package pricing are all available, with details online at Although Westergard said she had a long-time interest in holistic therapies, her past career was actually in food and beverage marketing. Raised in Storm Lake, Iowa, and a graduate of Iowa State University, Westergard came to Omaha in 1979 and considers it her adopted hometown. But the seed for afloat was planted in Austin, Texas, where she had moved to care for her terminally ill brother. “The time was intense; the emotions ran high. I was exhausted and my brother’s neighbor told me about ‘floating’ and how it had helped her daughter, just 30 years old at the time, who had used flotation therapy to soothe her chronic hip pain. I made an appointment,” she said. “I thought, ‘how could something so simple give you relief?’” After floating, Westergard felt “calm, physically relaxed and centered…it was a beautiful feeling.” By her third float, her mind “opened up to a creative flow” and she was starting to plan the future afloat facility and business plan. Respect and integrity: Westergard eventually drove 3,000 miles visiting other float centers, mostly in the southwestern states where they’re more prevalent, but also in states as close as Iowa and Minnesota. Her years of marketing experience were invaluable in her first foray into entrepreneurship, but she also capitalized on community resources, collaborating with experts from Greater Omaha SCORE for mentoring and education, the Start Center for entrepreneurship development, the University of Nebraska Lincoln for legal services, and the Nebraska Business Development Center for start-up consultation. “It was a crapshoot in a brand-new industry,” she said. “Together, we’re able to make it bloom.” afloat has blossomed rapidly, Westergard said, with much repeat business and new customers motivated by referrals and excellent reviews. “I want to earn business and respect through integrity,” she said.

mquarterly • SuMMer 2018


metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY presents metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY’s SPRING 2018 issue online now! metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY is published quarterly b...


metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY presents metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY’s SPRING 2018 issue online now! metroMAGAZINE/mQUARTERLY is published quarterly b...