Peaceful easy feeling

Floatation therapy for weight loss? This centre in Abu Dhabi's Khalifa City says yes.

The Lifestyle Change package at Point Zero Flotation Centre in Abu Dhabi includes an hour in a flotation tank. Courtesy Point Zero Flotation Centre
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Floating in a cabin filled with so much magnesium and sulphate the water is as buoyant as the Dead Sea is one of the best experiences I have had all year.

Being sequestered in the quiet darkness of a Point Zero Flotation Centre cabin delivers everything the staff promises: deep relaxation, an insomnia cure, improved general wellness and stress relief. I entered on a Thursday evening feeling like a bag of nerves and 60 minutes later emerged a salty picture of peace. I had read a recent study suggesting that an Epsom salt bath can draw out toxins and head off a cold or flu; in a fun twist I had a sore throat when I arrived and it was gone when I left.

However, the centre also boasts some loftier claims for its floats that I can’t actually confirm after just one session: that it can help with addiction, to quit smoking, treat psoriasis and attention deficit disorder, as well as more serious diseases, such as diabetes.

My float was part of the centre’s latest package dubbed “Lifestyle Change”: a three-hour series of three treatments aimed at promoting weight loss, combining the float with a vigorous massage followed by very hot steam. The thinking is that if flotation therapy can help spark the kind of awareness that helps a person stop smoking, then it could prompt them to slow down, examine and change their behaviour in such a way as to stop overeating and live a more healthy lifestyle, too.

I can say the evening was a delicious experience and the preparations leading up to it impeccable. The staff at Point Zero are perceptively attentive and the facilities offer all the privacy you want when you are gearing up for a bath away from home.

After a post-float shower to rinse off the salt, I was led upstairs to the massage and steam room, where it was explained that my therapist Pop would focus on massaging the flesh in my “fat” areas. (I tried not to be resentful when she spent most of the time on my hips, thighs and stomach.) The steam portion – designed to help sweat out toxins – turned out to be about 35 minutes spent lying on a nearby table inside a hot and heavy silver thermal body bag, with just my head poking out.

Thankfully, Pop gave me a lovely head massage which helped me get through the first 10 minutes or so. However, I struggled with the rest of it – it really was almost unbearably hot and I was very glad to finally get out. Although I was quite light-headed when I got up, a couple of quick slugs of water and another shower put me right, and soon I was on my way, heading home for a deep night’s sleep.

I left feeling much more grounded and quite a bit lighter than when I arrived, having sweated out what must have been a kilo during the last portion of the treatment. But that feeling was only temporary, as it is all water loss.

I can’t really say whether a series of weekly or twice-weekly treatments, which is what the staff advise, would result in lasting weight loss. I wasn’t very hungry afterwards and I can imagine that regular chilling out would help create such peace of mind that overeating wouldn’t be an issue – not to mention you’d be spending so much time at the centre, it would be hard to find time for it.

The Point Zero Flotation Centre is located in Khalifa City A, opposite Al Forsan International Sport Resort. The Lifestyle Change package takes three hours and involves a massage, steam and float for Dh550. Packages are available. Call 02 445 5775 to book a session