Meet Float Alchemy
When Amy Grimes started floating decades ago, it was still a novel concept for the general public, even though floatation therapy has now been around nearly 60 years.
Grimes came to Nashville 27 years ago by way of Vanderbilt and Belmont universities where she was a student. There, the Pennsylvania native studied music business, marketing and theology, before pursuing a non-profit path post-college.
“I had a desire to help people and I went directly from college into my non-profit job, where I worked for 10 years,” she says. “While I knew my work in non-profit was helping people, I wanted to do it on a more one on one position where I could see the change. I opened my massage practice in 2006, then I opened a clinic at Nashville Baseball Training Academy in 2010 which was, at the time, owned by my best friend, Mark Chesshir.”
Together, the duo realized that float therapy was their calling, but it was easier said than done. Tennessee had yet to accept the difference between a pool, where people can drown, and a saline float tank, where it’s virtually impossible because of the buoyancy incurred.
“Most of my massage work was around helping people with chronic pain and healing from injury. I had, at that point, been going up to Chicago when I could to float,” Grimes explains. “I knew what it could do for pain from my own experience and wanted to bring it down to Tennessee. We approached the health department in September 2011, and realized it would be a long journey as a float tank fits the definition of a swimming pool, but in many ways could not meet the swimming pool regulations in a way that was safe for our floaters.”
Chesshir and Grimes worked together with the state and Davidson County health departments and finally got permission to open the first float tank to the public in July 2013; Float Nashville became the state’s first float tank facility with a trio of pods. Five years later, the business partners opened an even bigger, more ambitious concept, the 5,600-square-foot Float Alchemy, located on Cason Lane in a former furniture store.
“This used to be considered a hippie thing, but there’s been tremendous acceptance from the medical community as they’re seeing the validity in float therapy,” Grimes says. “A lot of researchers, including Vanderbilt, started picking it up and doing research. Many hospitals and athletic facilities are even installing their own pods. It’s becoming a lot more prevalent and a lot more accepted.”
Float therapy employs the use of dark tank filled with water and infused with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt to create a sensory deprivation chamber. Chesshir built the tanks himself, and Grimes said people use float therapy for all manner of different reasons—pain relief, a mood booster, more restful sleep—and that she typically suggests a first-timer plan on coming for three sessions pretty close together as it takes the body that long to surrender to the process. Once you emerge from the tank, your senses are heightened—food tastes richer, lights seem brighter, sounds are more pronounced, Grimes says.
Claustrophobic? No problem, she adds. While Grimes says only three percent of the population is actually claustrophobic, for those who feel like the pod is not an option—at least, not on the first go—there’s also an open-tank float pool (comfortably fits two people), as well as a float cabin. Floaters can opt to leave the lights on or turn them off for complete sensory deprivation, as well as shut the door or leave it open.
But Grimes and Chesshir didn’t stop with just float tanks. Float Alchemy also has a cryotherapy chamber, both infrared sauna cabins and domes, NormaTec Recovery systems for compression and improving circulation, and a massage room. Athletes and others with chronic pain and injuries have already gravitated toward the cryotherapy, which uses liquid nitrogen at chilly temps of -130 to -187 degrees to treat pain and injuries and improve sleeping. For those who can’t hack the three-minute, fully-immersive treatment, there’s also the option to do local cryo, a smaller machine used to spot-treat specific areas for acute pain and swelling.
On top of all that, Marlin Grimes, a leader in the world of fermentation and live-cultured goods, came on board to build out a kombucha taproom. Ingredients are sourced locally in Tennessee, then Grimes drives them up to the family farm, Seven Springs, in Pennsylvania. Her father makes the fermented goods, as well as the live-cultured products—butter, cheese and CBD goods—then drives them back to her in Murfreesboro to sell out of the attached taproom. Kombucha, a fermented drink made from bacteria, yeast and tea, is linked to improving gut health among other things, and among the dozen available on tap, which are sold by the cup or growler, a few are even infused with cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a healing extract derived from the hemp plant.
“Float is my passion. Everything my father and I do is my childhood,” says Grimes, who helped her father in food manufacturing during her high-school years. “So to get to do all of this, it kind of feels like coming home.”
Float Alchemy also has a pleasant lounge where patrons can come in for a quick oxygen treatment or swing in the hammock chairs. All-in-all, one could easily spend an entire afternoon taking advantage of everything this diverse business has to offer. Float Alchemy is open seven days a week and frequently offers promotions, as well as specials for first-time visitors.
Float Alchemy is located at 131 Cason Lane in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.