OSWEGO — At Aqua Spa, Oswego’s newest floatation and wellness center, something out of some Stanley Kubrick film: 2020, the Space Odyssey Revisited.
There may be no monolith, but there’s this chair. I’m told it was designed by the guy who designs for Ferrari. So, I was rather enthused, this obviously being the closest I’ll ever get to one. I’ll tell you. Not only do I think this guy designed the seat, which is like a Barcalounger made for the queen of England, I think he put a Ferrari engine in this thing. I used to think my power mower had power. It can shake you up pretty well. But this chair ... that’s power on a whole other level. For 18 minutes this engineering marvel moved around my legs, my arms, my neck, every inch of my back, the bottoms of my feet, and places I don’t even want to talk about, with the force of some goddess masseuse, definitely stronger than you are, like Xena the Warrior Princess, in a good way. And this was all just on its medium setting with heat thrown in for good measure. Thank God I didn’t ask for the high setting. I think you’d find me wrapped in plastic in the cold case next to the burger at Price Chopper. Most sessions run 15, 30, or 45 minutes. Depending on how big you are, how strong you are, and what kind of shape you’re in, I just want to say, 18 minutes on medium is pretty intense. But it is a great experience unlike any other. Prices start at $19 for 15 minutes, go to $35 for 30 minutes, and top out at $49 for 45 minutes.
But that massage chair is just one of the amazing experiences you can have at Aqua Spa Floatation Center & Wellness Boutique, owned by Tammy Wilkinson and Terry LeRoi, at 120 E. 1st St. in Oswego just in back of the former Education Building. This place is a $2 million, 6,500 square foot, playground for health-oriented adults looking for a little peace, relaxation, help for those everyday aches and pains, and in general, some physical and mental bliss. There’s really nothing else like it.
Let’s start with the floatation tanks. There are five of them. Some are totally enclosed and soundproof. Some are more out in the open, less cocooned. Either way, you’re in a shallow pool, maybe 10 inches deep, of body-temperature water super-saturated with 1,500 pounds of Epson salt.
“You’re buoyant as the Dead Sea,” said Tammy. “It’s amazing to have that gravity off your body.”
You shower before and after the session, before to go in there clean and after to get all that salt off you. You can have starlight flickering above you, music surrounding you, or nothing at all, just totally dark silence. Sensory deprivation. The walls are soundproof. You lie on your back, and you float. You may even sleep.
“Every time I float,” Tammy said, “I know I’m in for a good night’s sleep. It’s a beautiful, beautiful experience.”
According to Aqua Spa’s brochure, floating offers wonderful benefits:
“Your mind is now free to process things without distraction, your brain releases dopamine and endorphins, stress-related hormones are lowered and your body and mind get to rest. This is the perfect time to reflect on your life, creative personal insights and improve creative flow. After about 30 to 45 minutes of floating, your mind starts producing theta brainwaves, which are responsible for that between waking and sleep state. Athletes who have floated have reported enhanced performance. People have experienced heightened creativity and productivity from floating. With nothing to distract you, your level of concentration and knowledge absorption is astonishing.”
The water is some of the cleanest you’ll ever dip your toe into thanks to an extensive filtration system of ozone, hydrogen peroxide, UV lights, and a one-micron filter.
“The whole 200 gallons goes through that system three times in 15 minutes,” said Terry. So, it’s pretty darn clean.
Floating will run you $74 for 60 minutes and $84 for 90. But you can get an introductory float for $59 or $69 for 60 or 90 minutes. Couples can float for $94 and $104. That should be fun. And then, there’s a membership option whereby you commit to floating one, two, or three times a month for less and less money per session. The more you float, the less each session costs.
That’s true for just about everything they offer at Aqua Spa, and that includes the salt room, which generally runs $39 for 30 minutes and $57 for 45. And what do you do there? You lie on a chaise lounge and breathe as a Himalayan salt generator fills the air with a salt-infused mist. The walls are solid bricks of salt, a beautiful, glowing, deep yellow with brown streaks running through them, giving off a warm light, setting an almost spiritual mood. Salt therapy is meant to detoxify your respiratory system, promote better breathing and sounder sleep, and they’re making the most of that right now in the midst of the pandemic.
“We’re using this for allergies, asthma, COPD, respiratory issues, and more importantly, COVID recovery at this point,” Terry said.
And it’s also said to be good for your skin, as is the infrared sauna, another of Aqua Spa’s “modalities,” as they’re called.
Of course, this is not your grandfather’s sauna. This is a high-tech, 150-degree, dry heat “proven 99% efficient across all wavelengths for optimal health benefits,” according to the brochure. It features chromotherapy, “the science of using colors to adjust body vibrations to frequencies that result in health and harmony.”
Years ago, you’d run from a hot sauna to a cold shower and then back again. Well, you can still do pretty much that at Aqua Spa but on a much higher-tech level. First of all, there’s the sauna equipped with “the most technologically advanced infrared sauna heaters in the industry.” Then, there’s the cryo, short for Cryo therapy, a stall shower-like enclosure that for three minutes takes you down to –190 degrees via a liquid nitrogen mist. It’s hard for me to believe someone ever thought this would be a good idea, but it seems to have turned out to be a very good one indeed.
Cryotherapy is likened to an athlete’s ice bath after a game.
“Ice therapy is extremely valuable in recuperation and regeneration,” Terry explained. “This is actually better and more efficient than an ice bath. A three-minute session here would give you the equivalent in healing and recovery powers of a 20- or 30-minute ice bath.”
As liquid nitrogen mist fills the cabin, appearing like a dry ice fog, an operator stands outside the cabin checking in on you every 30 seconds.
“Pain relief is almost instant,” Terry said. Inflammation is reduced and skin elasticity is increased. Your heart will get a bit of a workout too as its rate increases trying to keep your body warm.
“When you get out, you don’t stay cold,” Terry said. “You get out of a cold shower, you’re cold. But with this, your body just starts immediately warming back up as soon as you come out of there. And every time I do the cryo, I sleep well that night.”
According to Aqua Spa’s brochure, “the ultra-cold liquid nitrogen has many great muscular recovery benefits for athletes. Plus, this process has beauty benefits. Regular sessions can reduce cellulite and increase collagen production.”
And finally, we have good old massage. An actual human will professionally treat you to a relaxing Swedish or a slower, deep tissue 30- to 90-minute massage. And for an even more enjoyable experience, you can upgrade to the aromatherapy massage, a Swedish-style massage with the special addition of essential oil such as lavender, as the brochure says, “to help relax your mind and help promote better sleep.” Or, for something a little different, try the hot-stone massage, using “water-heated stones to relax the muscle fibers to access deeper layers of tissue.”
After all this, you’re probably ready to head to the bar. Not that bar. The oxygen bar, providing you with four times more oxygen than the air we breathe. Great for headaches, migraines, and hangovers, relieves muscle stiffness and fatigue and, according to the brochure, “calms the mind and nervous system to improve memory and thinking and relieves stress and anxiety.” It even is said to improve digestion.
Mayor William Barlow praised the entire Aqua Spa operation at its guest-filled ribbon cutting the evening of Dec. 15.
“To say this is unique and a wonderful new addition to the Oswego community would be absolutely an understatement,” the mayor said. “This is more of a regional attraction, not just a local attraction. It’s hard to find a center of this caliber anywhere near Oswego. The Aqua Spa is going to be a huge boost to our efforts to get people to visit Oswego and ultimately move to Oswego. I so appreciate Terry and Tammy for their willingness to invest approximately $2 million into the community in the form of this facility. I know this is going to be a success. They have the right people in place. Tammy and Terry know what they’re doing. They have a partner and supporter in PathFinder Bank. It’s the recipe for success.”
All pricing and much more information is available on the Aqua Spa website at https://aquaspafloatcenter.com. Their phone number is 315-207-2080.
And if you need any more of an inspiration to give them a try, here’s a final thought from their website I know is true: “Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”