Stay centered in a sensory-deprivation pod: Micah Saccomanno, Mt Kisco, NY
An athlete in need of sports visualization of accelerated recovery? Your boss has your cell phone on speed dial? Suffering from insomnia, back ache or writer’s block? Your teen crashed the car—he’s fine, it’s totaled? Planning a bar-mitzvah or wedding?
Get yours via floatation therapy at Rise Above Floatation in Mt. Kisco. Its futuristic-looking sensory deprivation pods are like warm baths on steroids. Step into a private chamber filled with 10 inches of supersaturated solution of Epsom salt and water to keep you effortlessly afloat. Soak in the light- and sound-controlled environment. Air and water are the same temperature, so you lose awareness of where your body ends and the water begins. Feel a gravity-defying, joyful buoyancy, and after an hour, emerge refreshed.
‘Floating’ is a great way to get away from all your digital devices. The stimulation-free setting allows the brain to approach the theta brainwave state usually only achievable after years of deep meditation practice. Tapping into this half-awake half-dream state can come with wide ranging benefits, as claimed by both scientists and devotees. Float tanks tackle insomnia, stress, back and joint problems, even headaches. Floats reduce cortisol levels, helping people manage chronic pain from injury and illness, fight addiction and depression, elevate mood, and improve sports performance. Athletes use the tanks for rest, recovery and visualization. (Superbowl teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots are fans).
Thanks to a small business loan of $50,000 from Community Capital New York, owner Micah Saccomanno is able to offer customers three ways to access peace and serenity. Choose between the extra-wide Float Cabin, which is like a walk-in closet (allowing the floater to stand inside) and offers the added comfort of a glowing blue or red light on the side of the tank so you’re not immediately plunged into darkness or The Tranquility Pod, a specialized sensory deprivation chamber designed by the co-inventor of the Concorde, an engineer whose devotion to floating led him to design the Rolls Royce of floatation systems. An Open Float Room gives piece of mind to anyone with a touch of claustrophobia.
The experience begins at the door. Rise Above is Zen from the moment you step into the pebbled entry and onto cork floors through to the soft lighting that greets you when you emerge, renewed. Perfect for whatever ails you, or to get wherever you’re hoping to go. (See Micah on You Tube). Rise Above Floatation offers discounts to veterans, fireman, policeman, and teachers. A single float is $85 for an hour/$110 for a 90 minute session. A typical float lasts one or 1.5 hours, with the water filtered three times between each session, to ensure each client has a clean, sanitary experience. A monthly membership lets you regularly calm your busy mind, cool your jets and soothe your joints.
How did you get your business off the ground?
I’ve always been into meditation and had read about sensory deprivation. I found there was this huge opportunity to work with floatation. Mount Kisco is fairly central, quiet and yet still metropolitan. We have our own parking, and are positioned onto a beautiful cliff. When you come out and look right you see city and to the left, nature. We’re less than a five minute walk from the train station. A Transcendental Meditation Center and Katonah Yoga are nearby, so we knew there was a holistic middle corridor here.
Mentally, floating is a way to find out more about yourself and to widen your focus. Physically, the lack of stimulation triggers a Relaxation Response, which is the direct opposite of the Fight-Or-Flight response. Because the floatation chamber is a safe place, it triggers a parasympathetic response, lowering blood pressure, flushing lactic acid and increasing blood flow to muscles. According to (Dr.) Peter Suedfeld (a pioneering researcher) flotation tanks have been great at tackling problems like insomnia, stress, dysfunctions of the skeleto-muscular system, chronic headache, and the like. We have clients who float for the recovery of a rotator cuff. We had a writer get out and borrow paper to write down all the ideas that came to him. We have musicians who use it to practice what they practice in real life because the clarity of thought is so strong. It helps you internalize plays from a rule book, helps your muscle memory. You get to a state of flow, the same as you do when you’re in the throes of a sport or a concert. Athletes can actually train their bodies faster and harder using float tanks. They don’t need the same amount of days to recover. Athletes also use it for sports visualization. It helps you internalize methods and buttresses training, enhancing skill. Floating can help people learn language and memorization—it’s great for those taking tests like MCATS and LSATS. It is great for brainstorming problems by enhancing your creativity. Some people call float tanks ‘dream machines.’
How did Community Capital help?
Community Capital’s small business loan gave me the financing needed to purchase the best floatation tanks. Floating used to mean getting into a big square box that closed in on you not unlike getting into a coffin. We were able to buy Floataway sensory deprivation tanks from the UK designed by Colin Smith, the co-inventor of the Concorde supersonic passenger jet. These tanks are designed for maximum control and comfort to be inviting rather than intimidating. The water and atmosphere are kept at a skin-receptor neutral 93.5 degrees, the temperature at which you lose track of where your body ends and your surroundings begin. The 850 pounds of Epsom salt in each tank creates an environment of incredible buoyancy where you no longer have to fight gravity.
What is your biggest obstacle to success?
When people think of floatation tanks, they picture Altered States. In the 1980 film (actor) William Hurt devolves into a proto-human primordial mass of consciousness. It’s a horror movie. But a float experience is the opposite. Rise Above is totally safe, healthy, modern and relaxing. It’s also clean and sanitary. The salt level is double that in the Dead Sea, which means no bacteria or germs can survive in it. We filter the water three times, and disinfect all surfaces between sessions. But the biggest factor to overcome is fear. Yes, you are alone in a room in the dark, but you control all the doors and lights. We tell you the best way to float and provide the environment, but you are in complete control.
What advice would you offer would-be entrepreneurs?
The worst thing is to allow imperfect circumstances to stop you from a goal because the universe rewards action. This attitude helped us to be hands-on during the construction process. We found out we needed another bathroom, we used Suite Home 3D, a free building design program online to work out the changes ourselves. It was a godsend. We were able to bring our designs to an architect and meant we didn’t have to brainstorm on his dollar. He did the codes and handicapped access, but we were able to get the design we wanted much less expensively.
What did you wish you knew?
To consult with an acoustic professional. When we soundproofed there was a lot of trial and error, which proved time consuming and costly. And to review renovation plans with the fire department before construction. When we changed the walls and room configuration we found that the changes required overhauling the fire sprinkler system. Just because something is already in place doesn’t mean that it will be grandfathered in. It’s a big cost to be aware of.
For those age 16 and up, Rise Above Floatation, 111 East Main Street, Mt Kisco, NY 10549, 914.525.1295, www.riseabovefloatation.com