Kelly Martin was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis more than 25 years ago.
So, when the 53-year-old Middletown woman heard about floatation therapy from a co-worker—and found a discount for Camp Hill’s Dissolve Float Spa on Groupon—she decided she had nothing to lose.
“I immediately fell in love,” Martin said. “Floating in the water takes the pressure off your joints, the warmth of the room surrounds you, and it’s stress relief—that’s the trigger for arthritis.”
She’s been going to Dissolve, located on Market Street, twice monthly for the past 18 months to help manage her symptoms.
So what exactly is floatation therapy? Dissolve owner Michael Heiter said that the concept is pretty simple.
“You basically step into a pod, lay back and float,” he said.
But the operation behind the float is much more complex.
The facility has several private float rooms, each containing a pod filled with 200 gallons of water, measuring 10 inches deep, plus a key ingredient—the equivalent of 900 pounds of Epsom salts or magnesium sulfate. The salinity of the water provides a gravity-free float in body-temperature water that lasts about an hour.
Heiter, 47, of Carlisle, said that he was working in a stressful job as a medical device representative, helping to run equipment for surgeries, when he tried floating for the first time at a facility in Bloomsburg.
“It was an amazing experience, probably the most peaceful moments I’d had in my life,” he said.
As a result, he and his wife Tracy decided to bring floatation therapy to central Pennsylvania. The couple spent about eight months searching for the ideal property before discovering Camp Hill’s former Masonic Lodge.
“It’s built extremely well, with almost no windows, made of concrete and steel,” he said. “It needed to be well insulated for quiet.”
Through adaptive reuse, the 1936 structure was transformed into Dissolve Float Spa and opened in May 2016, the first spa of its kind in the area. Dissolve now schedules 400 to 500 floats monthly.
“People say it’s life-changing,” Heiter said. “It’s like a reset or reboot, mentally, physically and spiritually.”
Clients use floating to relieve symptoms of chronic pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, PTSD, Lyme disease, arthritis and other medical ailments, he said. But visitors don’t need a medical reason to come—many people just want to unplug and de-stress.
“A lot of people today struggle with being able to relax,” Heiter said.
Dissolve’s pods are equipped with tranquil music, which helps clients drift into a nap-like zone. Or visitors may choose to turn the music off and relax in quiet stillness.
Pods, often described as large and egg-shaped, feature lids that may be lowered during use. The pods are white and equipped with low lights, which helps prevent a feeling of claustrophobia if the lids are down.
A voice recording signifies when it’s time for visitors to exit the pod, rinse the salinity off in a shower—located within the same room—and get dressed. Clients may choose to wear a swimsuit, or not, while floating.
Massage is also offered at the spa.
Massage therapist Jennifer Hara said her services, including Bowen therapy bodywork, complement flotation therapy.
“Massage and bodywork prepare you for the deeper relaxation (of floating),” she said.
Hara herself has tried floating. She says it’s an “incredible” experience thanks to sensory deprivation—the removal of stimuli.
Cindy Reitz, 61, of Carlisle, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia more than 20 years ago. She also has orthopedic issues that have led to three back surgeries.
“I hurt all the time,” she said.
Last summer, her husband suggested she try floating, and she took to it instantly.
“Nothing else manages the pain (like floating),” she said, adding that her husband remarks that she looks visibly different afterwards.
Reitz now visits Dissolve three times a week.
”One of the things I love about it is, after I get out, I don’t feel heavy or tired,” she said. “I’m energized and moving with more fluidity.”
She said that she tells everyone she knows about floating and the “fabulous, professional” staff at Dissolve.
“I’m so grateful to them and this facility,” she said.
It’s a sentiment that Martin echoes.
“Floating has definitely added to my quality of life and gives me an option other than traditional medicine,” she said. “Besides escaping to the beach, it is my favorite place to get away.”
Dissolve Float Spa is located at 2211 Market St., Camp Hill. For more information, visit www.dissolvefloat.com or call 717-730-0600. If you have any questions regarding your medical condition and whether floating is right for you, please consult with your doctor.