Philadelphia's first flotation spa relies on the healing properties of salt for its leisurely soaks.
Fishtown’s Halcyon Floats is the only spa of its kind in Philadelphia.
Among a bevy of salons offering ancient healing methods in Philadelphia, the newest is floating to the top. Halcyon Floats, the only float spa in Philadelphia, brings a new sense of tranquility to city life. Nestled along a busy street in Fishtown, the small space, painted with warm hues and bright accents, instantly envelops guests with a feeling of calm. “It’s a peaceful environment planted in the midst of the bustle of the city, where people can come to relax and be introspective,” says owner and Philly native Keri Rakickas.
“The process is simple,” she says. “Shower, float, shower. There is really nothing to floating.” Experiencing the unique spa experience for the first time, I shut the door of my own personal isolation tank and drift into a bed of Epsom salt, which leaves me feeling weightless in the pure darkness. The water is warm, meant to match the temperature of one’s body, and I sink into the shallow depths of quiet. After a time, the complete silence slowly allowed me to relax.
Floating in the isolation tank can help with stress, muscle pain, and even anxiety by deploying traditional remedies in a new setting. “One of the oldest treatments for back pain was hot water and Epsom salt in the bathtub,” says Mitchell Freedman, DO, director of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Rothman Institute. “It’s a great relaxation strategy, [with] properties that dilate blood vessels and relax muscles.”
An avid floater for over two decades, Jennie Shanker worked at the first ever float spa in Philadelphia, Inversion Relaxation Center, situated along Third and South Streets. The center, complete with three egg-shaped tanks, was owned by David Tenerowicz, who lived above it and taught tai chi and meditation. Inversion closed its doors in 1990, leaving Philadelphia bereft of any type of floating center. “I was thrilled to hear that Keri was opening a shop in my neighborhood. It’s such a pleasure to be able to float again,” Shanker says, noting that she now uses the float spa to relax, think, and ease pain in her 50-year-old body. “[Keri has] created a lovely place, and is providing something that people really need in this day and age—time away from their stresses, screens, and gadgets. I’m so grateful for the risks that Keri has taken in opening [the spa].”
Guests float for 90 minutes in warm water to ease stress and relax the body.
Rakickas first got the idea to open Halcyon Floats on a trip to Portland, where she tried unsuccessfully to visit a fully booked float spa. “I thought that was crazy,” she says. “Why was everyone floating and I hadn’t heard a thing about it in Philly?” She then decided to bring floating to Philadelphia and opened Halcyon Floats in March. She has already established a consistent—and diverse—client base, including cops, athletes, and artists.
It’s easy to understand why, as lying in a sensory-deprived tank is sure to put even the busiest minds at ease. As the light sounds of Enya played through my tank—indicating my 90-minute session was over—I stepped out feeling ultra relaxed and serene as I donned an oversize bathrobe with matching slippers and sipped piping hot tea. That night, I experienced the best night’s sleep I’d had in a long time. “The float tank fosters a relaxation like no other,” says Rakickas, “free of all distractions, all ‘noise,’ where you can just unplug and recover.” 209 W. Girard Ave., 215-279-7607