Interview & visit: Floatworks in London

Last month, in October 2016, I visited Floatworks in the south of London. A few weeks later, I had the chance to interview co-owner Chris Plowman and manager Kathy Timmermanis about their business located right outside by the Vauxhall tube station.

Within only 4 months, Chris and his business partners built their four-tank center, which opened in April, and are already looking to soon create the second biggest center in the world. Currently, they’re scouting for locations in London while leaving day-to-day operations to Kathy and their team.

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Kathy first heard about floating in December 2015 through friend who had learned about it from Joe Rogan’s podcast. At first, she felt scared and sceptical, but her curiosity knew better. She tried floating in Toronto and then London, and moved from Canada to work at Floatworks. Ever since she floats several times a week while her love for it keeps growing.

Chris found out about floating three or four years ago, also from the Joe Rogan podcast, but it took him a while to try it. Finally, after his physician told him to float after a back injury from “being a bit silly” in the gym, he went for it. “I came out with a sense of euphoria,” he remembers and realized he had “found something special.” Although he had tried floating primarily to relieve his back problems, the Floatworks co-owner enjoyed the sensory deprivation part of it even more.

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Because he “hated being a banker” and was looking to change in his career, Chris together with his best friend wrote a business plan to open up their own float center; however, during the process they were approached by Tim Strudwick, founder of Floatworks, which had been around for 20 years, but wasn’t an active brand anymore. Chris and his friend bought the brand and worked together with Tim on a relaunch and the opening of the Floatworks center followed.

Kathy calls their spot an “oasis” in the busyness of London, also because they’re in a property located right by the river, which also has a courtyard and fountain. According to a survey, the majority of their visitors hear about the place from friends while others find it on Google, social media or due to Floatworks’ recently launched blog, where they publish original content related to floating and mindfulness (or, in case you wanted to know, why floating is similar to sex).

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Witnessing the transformation of their guests daily is what Kathy loves. Even though they come in with different expectations and moods, their visitors all come out happy and relaxed. When I asked Chris about what he loves most about owning a float center, he answers this: “We are so excited about hopefully being able to help people, many tens and thousands of people become happier and healthier and more mindful as a result of floating. That’s also why we want to expand so quickly, so we can reach more people. We want to make it as accessible as possible. An example of that is that we’ve recently lowered our prices because we were reasonably successful and we wanted to pass that along, so more people could float more regularly.” I can vouch for this because so far, the only center I’ve visited that’s still cheaper than Floatworks is Crash’s Floatlab in Los Angeles at $40 for 2 hours.

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While there are several smaller places to float sprinkled all over the UK, floatation is still a rather unknown subject for residents; however, Chris believes that he has seen a shift in awareness since they’ve opened. They reach out to influencers, celebrities, and journalists alike to spread the word. “We made some noise around the city,” Chris says.

Seeing everything from the customer’s perspective is very important to him. Running a successful center not only includes that “staff should be treating customers like kings and queens,” but also a great ambience where people feel comfortable.

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When I visited Floatworks, I took my friend with me, who had never floated before. We were greeted by Kathy, who showed us lockers, where we were able to leave our bags. The lockers are definitely a plus because you can leave your bag including your phone in there. Fortunately, it has never happened to me, but imagine, you forget to delete or turn off an alarm on your phone and it interrupts your float because you couldn’t leave it in a locker – gah!

We were then given pink flip flops to walk around the center which is spread over two levels. Kathy showed us the rooms, which were pretty spacious, clean, dark and cozy. All of them are equipped with Isopods. This would be my first time in a pod as opposed to a chamber. After my shower, I hopped into the tank, listened to soothing music for five minutes and drifted to a nice space – until a water drop made its way onto my leg. This had never happened to me before in the chambers I’ve floated in, but I know that it’s not uncommon at all and can happen everywhere of course, so it’s worth mentioning to me. Towards the end, the air felt almost too warm in the pod, and my friend later shared with me that she had felt the same.

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After our float, we had the chance to get pretty in Floatworks’ Hollywood room, which provides blow dryers and straighteners, mirrors with great lighting, and Q-tips. Then, we went into the small chill out room with comfortable couches and a table with books and guestbooks on it. Always love reading these! Floatworks also provide a great selection of tea and water.

 

What kind of floatation devices:
– 4 isopods

I recommend this center for people who:
– want great customer service
– are first time floaters

 

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