'It's meditation on steroids:' Former car salesman opens Fargo's first dedicated flotation therapy spa

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FARGO—Jarrid Gable was looking for a "miracle" to get his anxiety and depression under control. He said he found it by floating in a tank of warm water—and he's now hoping to introduce the therapy to others by opening the community's first dedicated float spa.

Gable manages Salt2O, 3285 Fiechtner Drive S., which celebrated its grand opening Dec. 1.

Flotation therapy was relatively unheard of just six years ago, he said, when America had about 80 float spas. That's since jumped to more than 350, and he said it's poised to become bigger as more people see the benefits for chronic pain, anxiety, stress or depression.

North Dakota's first float tank, where clients lie in 200 gallons of heavily salted water that's heated to body temperature, opened in April at Fargo's FM Integrative Health, 3441 45th St. S. A float tank is also planned for Inspire Health & Wellness Spa, 3140 Bluestem Drive, which will open in West Fargo later this month.

Gable said Salt2O stands out because the business is all about flotation therapy rather than offering it as one of many services.

"After researching for two years, we believe that this is the best float spa in the world," he said.

'Meditation on steroids'

Gable admits he was skeptical about all this a few years ago.

At the time, he was working as a car salesman in Phoenix when anxiety, depression and panic attacks began to consume his life. A co-worker who had success with flotation therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder bought Gable a session.

"When I got out from the cabin or the pod for the first time, I felt different," he said. "It felt like that anxiety and that tension was finally calmed down."

Gable said he was hooked and devoted himself to learning everything about the therapy, as well as how other spas were designed for the practice.

His father, Tim Gable, became the unlikely owner that made the spa a reality. Gable said his "blue collar" trucker dad has never tried flotation therapy, but his family could see improvements in Gable's life and thought it was worth bringing to Fargo.

Rather than a float tank or pod, which completely seals, Salt2O has four private rooms that look like walk-in showers at first glance. Gable said the tile floors are heated, the door leading into the room is soundproofed and even the dim lighting helps put people at ease.

Clients have hourlong sessions in a "float cabin" accessed through a shower door leading from the private room into an enclosed tub.

Unlike soaking in a hot tub, Gable said flotation therapy is all about making people relaxed to the point that "it feels like a dream." The water in each tank has 700 pounds of dissolved Epsom salt, which makes it 30 percent more buoyant than regular water and twice as buoyant as the Dead Sea.

That buoyancy cuts down body weight about 80 percent during the session, which can offer relief for those suffering from pain or injuries, he said. The fact that the water and air in the float cabin is heating to the same temperature as the human body also matters, he said, because clients won't feel the water, air or their body after just a few minutes.

"It's meditation on steroids is what I tell my clients," he said. "It's the most relaxing hour of your life."

Gable said flotation therapy, which costs $79 for an hourlong session or $59 for first-time customers, can help for several days after a treatment. The spa offers four levels of monthly memberships from $59 to $299 to encourage people to come back often.

The new business is already pursuing franchising opportunities, including the possibility of opening locations in Minot, N.D., and Greenville, S.C.

His goal is to catch up and eventually beat out True REST, a franchise with more than 50 float spas.

"We're trying to expand the industry forward," he said.

Business profile

What: Salt2O

Where: 3285 Fiechtner Drive S., Fargo

Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Sunday (by appointment only Saturday and Sunday)

Phone: (701) 639-4941

Online: www.salt2ospa.com