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Published November 30th 2022
Restore Equilibrium at City Cave
The race towards the end of the year is on, and my calendar is filling fast as I squeeze in those end-of-year catch-ups. I love being social, but sometimes I long for a moment to escape the madness, which is usually fulfilled lying in the blazing sun, sweating in solitude, followed by a quick dip at the beach. Apparently, summer has arrived, but if you're in Sydney, you may feel like the weather gods missed the memo.
I have the perfect solution to get your sweat session on and enjoy some time out: City Cave.
I first tried City Cave on the Gold Coast in February this year when I dragged my boyfriend to our first-ever float session. Curious to try float therapy for some time but deterred by the fear of becoming trapped in those little pods, I was excited to find City Cave had float tanks set up like a bathtub in your own private room which you could walk around in.
Float therapy has long been touted for its ability to heal the body, reduce stress and anxiety, aid relaxation and help sleep. The tanks are filled with 400kg of Epsom salts, which means you can't help but stay buoyant with no effort. The water is perfectly heated to your body temperature, so much so you cannot tell which body parts are in the water and which are out. You can choose to float in silence and total darkness, which assists in entering a theta meditative state — a meditative state for optimal healing of the body and mind.
For my first float, my boyfriend and I decided to have music playing for the whole session as we were apprehensive about floating in a deep void. There is also a blue light you can leave on if you so wish. Each room is equipped with a shower, amenities, and towels. You will be given earplugs for your first float, which you should bring to future sessions. (You may buy them for $2 if you forget to bring earplugs for future sessions.) While the tank is filled with enough salt that you don't have to worry about your head going underwater, there are also head rings that provide that extra support. Also, conveniently, there is a spray bottle filled with water should you accidentally get some tank water in your eyes (it stings!), and there is Vaseline provided should you need it for any abrasions.
Keep in mind there are a few conditions to adhere to for float therapy, including no weeping wounds. For a list of FAQs click here.
Hydrate at the tea station pre and post treatment.
After this first session, I was hooked. I was so utterly relaxed and slept on a cloud that night. I knew it was something I had to incorporate into a regular routine. Back in Sydney, we went again a week later. City Cave has multiple locations throughout QLD and NSW (and is opening in VIC this year!), and with the recent opening of a centre five minutes from my house, I am now a regular floater. I opt for total silence and darkness these days and find myself surprised every time my 60 minutes is up and the gentle voice informs me that my session has come to an end. Whenever I am stressed out or having trouble sleeping, I book a session and find equilibrium restored.
City Cave also provides infrared saunas, an experience I admit I was slightly dubious about. Nevertheless, a recent groin tear followed by bursitis, a week of pain, and an inability to walk, much less sit cross-legged, led me to try the infrared sauna experience.
Infrared saunas offer benefits from muscle recovery and pain relief to improved mood and decreased fatigue. While the science is scarce, I was desperate for anything to potentially alleviate the pain. For those interested, here is an article about the potential benefits.
I love the heat, but I am not a fan of steam rooms. Infrared saunas are dry and produce the same heat as our bodies and the sun (minus the harmful UV rays). The sauna is heated via infrared lights, and you can control the colour via a button in the sauna. From blue to aid in mental relaxation to red which loosens stiffness and constrictions, there is a guide providing information on the colours and their benefits.
The optimal temperature suggested is a toasty 48-53 degrees Celsius, but I began my session at 44 degrees and worked my way up. Just like the float room, the sauna sits in a room with a shower, a place to store your things and a handy jug of water and cups. You can also connect your phone via Bluetooth and play music should you wish. I chose my calming playlist and settled in for a sweat. Five minutes in, I decided to gently stretch, and by 15 minutes, I almost wept with relief when I found I could cross my legs sans pain. I eventually crept up to 53 degrees and found 45 minutes passed extremely quickly.
Note: For those who have read one too many Nancy Drew books and hold a fear of being trapped in a sauna, let me assure you there are no locks on the actual sauna door (which is also made of glass). See the photo below for the room layout. There is also a climate-controlled box inside the sauna where you can keep your phone should that quash your concerns.
It is recommended you wait 30 minutes post-sauna before showering so bring some dry shampoo and push back any fancy lunches or dinners. City Cave, fortunately, has a lovely waiting area where you can relax before or after your session and enjoy a variety of herbal teas and water. After my sauna, I found that while the pain returned, it was less intense than before. I thoroughly enjoyed my session and look forward to incorporating this into a regular routine.
Top off your day at City Cave with a massage from a highly skilled therapist. From relaxation to deep tissue and even pregnancy massages, you can choose from 45 to 90-minute sessions. City Cave offers a variety of memberships if you, too, find yourself hooked. So, if you're looking for some forced relaxation or a moment of solitude, try City Cave and sweat, float, or massage your worries away.