Health and Fitness: Floating away stress in the blink of an eye

OUT OF THIS WORLD: Being in a float pod has been likened to "relaxing in outer space". Each pod has 500 kilograms of epsom salt and a regular float can reportedly  help relieve stress and help with injury recovery.

OUT OF THIS WORLD: Being in a float pod has been likened to "relaxing in outer space". Each pod has 500 kilograms of epsom salt and a regular float can reportedly help relieve stress and help with injury recovery.

Normally, when you start talking about meditation and anything that requires being still rather than moving,  you lose me pretty quick.

But when Lee Clements said these words – “A one-hour float is equivalent to six hours of sleep” – I was instantly all ears.

Lee and Andrew Cushing are the co-founders of Sensom Health and Wellbeing in Lambton, a one-stop shop for those looking to relieve stress. They offer yoga, massage, meditation and floating.

I had never heard of the latter but, according to Lee, it has been around for quite a while.

She was in fact instrumental in bringing flotation tanks to Newcastle back in the 80s. 

Now she has two flotation pods.

In the pods, she told me, are 500 kilograms of epsom salt which means you get in and you just literally float.

The longer we talked about the experience, the more I was thinking I wanted to give it a go.

So when she offered I go along and try it last week, I jumped at the chance.

I was worried about feeling claustrophobic but the pods are huge and you can leave the lid part open if you want.

Once in the pod, lights and music are on for the first 10 minutes or so but then they stop.

It was a weird concept for me because when I play sport there is constant chatter on the field, when I’m at the gym there is constant stimulation and when I exercise outdoors with friends there is conversation.

But this was just me, still, floating, silent, in the dark (you can keep the lights on), alone with my thoughts.

Of course at first I was thinking about all the things I needed to do when I got home: cook dinner, get the kids’ clothes ready for school, pack lunches, plan tomorrow night’s dinner, pack sport gear for after-school activities, et cetera.

Then it was work. But the next thing I knew I had fallen to sleep. And that is pretty much how I spent most of the float.

In marketing material I had sourced from the front desk on the way in, it described floating as “likely to be the most relaxing thing you’ve experienced”.

Once, before we had children, I spent a whole day by a resort pool in Port Douglas, reading books, sleeping and swimming.

That was nine years ago and I don’t think I’ve had a day like it again. We have had three kids since and, like many other people out there, juggle family life with work, a never-ending string of after-school activities and our own sporting commitments.

“These are increasingly busy and demanding times and many people are finding that proactively managing stress and anxiety is a good start to addressing what can often lead to burnout and additional health-related issues if left untreated,” Lee said.

Most people I know rarely stop. When they do they fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

I think going on a regular basis would definitely be of benefit. It was so good having no distractions. That meant I truly could relax and recharge for the next few hours of bedlam at home.

I think it is going to be a good present idea for Christmas because I know plenty of people who are flat out every day and could do with a brief time out.

SPRING EATING TIPS

Peter Mullen of Mullen Natural Health Centre, Hamilton has been offering some healthy food tips for spring. 

This week he shares with us a recipe for fruit free chocolate snowballs:

Ingredients: 1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, 2/3 cup almonds, splash of almond milk (10g), 20g cacao, 30g coconut oil, 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, 25g coconut oil (optional), desiccated coconut.

Method: Blend on medium speed the 1/3 cup hazelnuts, 2/3 cup almonds, almond milk, cacao and coconut oil until combined. Add 1/2 cup hazelnuts and extra coconut oil if required and blend on a low speed so hazelnuts stay chunky. Shape into balls to a size that suits and roll in coconut.

Spring loaded week #8

When time fails you, pack your fitness into a circuit. Circuits are great because you can do them at home, the gym, park or beach.

Pick a combination of four to five strength and cardio exercises each and set achievable workout and recovery times for your level of fitness. This could be 30 seconds working, 30 seconds rest. Or maybe you will go straight from one to the other. 

A session may look like (substitute exercises with ones you can manage): Squats, squat jumps, push-ups, mountain climbers, step-ups with shoulder press, skipping, pull-ups/rows, bear crawls, ab rotation, glute bridge. 

Upcoming fitness events

Relay For Life, Hunter Sports Centre, Glendale, November 4: Raising funds for the Cancer Council, Relay for Life goes for 12 hours and involves cancer survivors, patients, carers and loved ones. www.cancercouncil.com.au.

XRACE, November 17, Stockton: XRACE is a family mystery adventure race where family teams race together, completing 10 mystery challenges on the way. www.xrace.com.au/03-newcastle/.

2017-18 Summer Run 10k Series: A three-race 10km Summer Series at Morpeth (November 12), Carrington (February 4) and Nelson Bay (March 18). www.summerrun.com.au.

Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother. r.valentine@fairfaxmedia.com.au.