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David Brickman had a life-changing experience in 2012 while visiting a friend in Oregon.
The friend took Brickman to a “float,” which meant lying for 90 minutes in a tank filled with an Epsom salt solution and free from any outside light or sound.
“I didn’t even know what it was before I went there, and I was so profoundly affected and struck by the power of this to quiet the mind and relax the body,” Brickman says.
A violinist in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Brickman says he had been looking for a way to expand his musical horizons, but after going into the flotation tank he shifted gears to a business idea.
“I knew that I wanted to do this again, and as I looked, I saw that this company in Portland was really flourishing,” he says. “They were booked up for weeks in advance, and I realized there was a real opportunity to do the same thing here.”
Last year Brickman and his wife, Pattie Sunwoo, brought flotation therapy to Rochester with the business Bodymind Float Center LLC. After operating out of their basement in the Highland Park neighborhood for a few months, Brickman, 51, and Sunwoo, 40, moved to a storefront on Park Avenue in Rochester.
Bodymind Float Center now has three tanks, each filled with 800 pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salt dissolved in 10 inches of water that is warmed to skin temperature. Clients who go on the 90-minute float get to experience the kind of restfulness and relaxation that comes in the moments before sleep.
“It’s totally silent except for the sounds generated in the tank, the breathing and the heartbeat,” Brickman says. “The reason it’s so powerful is because the rest of your brain is free from almost all sensory restrictions. Even the brain’s normal management in the field of gravity, that feverishly working to keep us balanced, is reduced during the float.”
The result is slowed respiration and heartbeat, he says. Clients report feeling more relaxed than ever, and the quietness of the mind helps them find insight they did not have access to before.
“We hear a lot of people say they realized the solution to a problem at work or an issue at home,” Brickman says.
The entire experience is designed to relax, he says, starting with the lobby and its artwork from a local photographer. Clients then go through an orientation before moving on to a private room, where they shower and then get into the tank.
Though Brickman has not yet been able to put a figure to the company’s annual income, he estimates it has had more than 1,000 clients already and is steadily growing. The business could eventually increase hours or even add another tank if customers remain as steady as in the first several months, he says.
Bodymind Float Center also is making contacts in the community, and many local therapists have started to refer patients to the center for relaxation therapy, Brickman adds.
Business was high around the holidays, with many people buying gift certificates for friends and family, he says. A single float is $65, but there are discounted packages available, including a three-float package for $165.
Clients tend to come in groups of two and three, Brickman notes, and repeat customers are common.
“It’s such an amazing experience,” he says. “It gives people access to the world between sleep and wakefulness, so you’re no longer aware that you’re on the bed and can have very vivid thoughts that are dreamlike. People get great pleasure and relief from this, but also a great opportunity to access your mind and body in a way you never have before.”
Small Business is a biweekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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