Just Float

Apr 3, 2016

IMG_5747+-+Version+2Was tension written on my face? In my posture? A friend insisted I needed to float.

I like to try new things, so okay. Fortunately, Pasadena has the nicest, newest, biggest float therapy spa anywhere. It’s called Just Float.

There’s a protocol to follow. The video on the website shows you around the place and tells you how floating works. If you don’t have a chance to look at it before you go in, you’ll be asked to watch it on an iPad while you relax in the slinky, peaceful lobby. You will also be asked to sign a release saying you won’t hold Just Float liable if any number of horrible things happen to you. I read that and my shoulders climbed up around my ears.

I took the release to the front counter and asked the clerk, “Can I actually drown in there?”

“It’s eleven inches deep,” she said.

We laughed. I’d have to work pretty hard to drown in that.

It’s also 1300 pounds of Epsom salt dissolved in 250 gallons of water. That’s buoyant stuff. I figured I could take the chance.





The lobby ceiling murmurs the theme of floating in calming water.



Everything is soothing, from colors to lighting to a hot cup of tea.


Owner Jim Hefner has poured his passion for floating into Just Float. It shows. Even the decor is about health and wellness. Take a look at the video on the site. It was shot at Just Float, so you see exactly how the place looks. It’s amazingly clean. It smells good. You get your own room with a towel, a washcloth, and a damned fine bathrobe. You have your own shower with organic body wash and shampoo, much nicer than the stuff I get at the grocery store. Creme rinse, too, but that’s for after.




You have one hour. You’ll want to luxuriate in your shower but I say don’t linger. Get yourself clean then get into the 94 degree water. Adjust the lights the way you want them. You can have low light, high light or complete darkness. I get a little claustrophobic so I chose low light. If you get a lot claustrophobic you can leave the door open between your float tank and your private dressing room.

I sat down in the warm salt water and my legs lifted on their own. Yep, it would be hard to drown in that. I laid back and tried to find a position for my arms. Up? Down? Either way, my shoulders refused to unclench. They hurt so badly I didn’t think I’d last the whole hour. But I wanted to give it a good shot, so I took turns rubbing each shoulder and being careful not to splash. You do not want that salt in your eyes.

The soft music faded out. Jim had suggested I count backwards from 100 to shut my mind off. This might not have been the best thing for me because my brain likes counting. Rubbing my shoulders, first right and then left, I counted down on each exhale. “Sixty-five…64…63….” All the way to zero. Then I didn’t have anything else to do. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t last the whole hour. I floated around, touching the sides of the 7′ x 5′ tank.


Then the music faded back in and the lights came up. I haven’t the faintest idea where my mind was for at least thirty minutes. I’ve never been successful at meditation. I would not say I was in a mindful state. More like mindless.

It relaxed me. I didn’t think anything could do that. It was just what I needed.

I pulled myself out of the water, crusty with salt, and closed the door. I was about to enjoy my shower when I heard whooshing inside, so I opened the door to look. The tank was cleaning itself. Later, Jim told me salt is a hostile environment for a lot of icky bacteria. Plus at Just Float, they use ultraviolet sterilizers and hydrogen peroxide to clean the water after each use. This way they provide a sanitary environment without wasting water.

Sanitary, environmentally conscious, and totally automated. I felt I was in a Stanley Kubrick version of 2016.




You need creme rinse after soaking in salt. You might also want a nice cup of tea in the lounge.




I relaxed in the lobby and sipped my tea. You can write in the journal to express what your experience was like. Jim Hefner’s entry is the first one. You can see how much he loves his business, and how deeply he believes in floating as therapy for mind and body.

He’s not the only one. On a Tuesday afternoon, Just Float was busy. A couple came in to float together. A pregnant woman. A mom and her little girl. An athletic-looking young man, not so fresh from the office. In one short hour, they would be refreshed, relaxed, renewed.

My shoulders are back up around my ears. It doesn’t take much. But now I have a solution.


Just Float, 76 N. Hudson Ave., #120, Pasadena 91101. Phone: 1.818.639.3572.






Petrea Burchard is a Pasadena-based photographer, blogger, voice-over talent and author. She contributes book reviews to Hometown Pasadena, for which we and our readers are very grateful.

Petrea’s novel, Camelot & Vine, tells the story of a failing Hollywood actress with an honesty problem who finds herself in the Dark Ages, face to face with the legendary King Arthur. Act As If, Petrea’s book of essays about being a journeyman actor in Hollywood, strikes recognition in all performing artists who’ve ever had to audition. Both books can be purchased in paperback or ebook on, or locally at the Pasadena Museum of History, the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse, and Hoopla! in Altadena. Petrea has published many articles and essays, and her story “Portraits” is included in Literary Pasadena (Prospect Park Books, 2013).

Periodically, Petrea leads a popular writing series called The Story Kitchen.

Find more Petrea doings, writings, and photography at “Living Vicuriously” and her new website









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