Picture courtesy of Victory Float Lounge.

While inside a sensory deprivation tank at Victory Float Lounge in Lower Lawrenceville, marathon runner Lindsey Pogson visualizes herself triumphantly crossing the finish line.

Each 60-minute experience acts as a training tool, pushing her to go the extra mile.

“Float therapy is relaxing, but it’s also a great way for athletes and creative people to recharge,” says Casey Williams, owner of the new facility at 3345 Penn Ave. “You get in the tank and, because you don’t have sensory input, you’re giving your brain the space and the time it needs.”

Williams, a powerlifter, first got his feet wet six years ago in Austin, Texas. After two years of research, he opened his own float space on Sept. 9. Victory boasts three tanks; each is 94 inches long, 78 inches wide and 88 inches high, about the size of an average bathroom. The tanks contain a foot of skin temperature water loaded with one ton of Epsom salt, which allows the human body to bob like a cork and keeps the liquid sterile.

Before entering the machine, customers shower with Castile soap, which strips away oils. Organic shampoo and conditioner, towels and a washcloth are available for a post-float rinse.

Photo courtesy of Victory Float Lounge.

Once inside the vessel, guests control the environment. You can float silently in total darkness or keep the lights and soothing music on. Some folks fall asleep, others problem-solve, and some, like Pogson, who manages Victory Float Lounge, picture themselves achieving great things.

After each float, the water is cycled three times through a one-micron filter (a human hair is 50 microns), while ozone and hydrogen peroxide are pumped in. A UVC light kills off any remaining bacteria and pathogens.

Williams admits he felt anxious the first time he tried the tank: it seemed unnatural to have an hour “without sensory input,” he says.

After a few experiences, he was able to relax in the tank and emerge feeling clear-headed and energized. The therapy is believed to relieve stress, reduce chronic fatigue and inflammation, improve circulation and decrease muscular tension.

Most customers who have visited the spot are new to float therapy, but they sign up for monthly memberships after trying the experience, Williams says.

Even his mom — who was wary of entering the tank at first — is now a regular.

In the next month, Williams plans to offer on-site massages and partner with local yoga studios and fitness centers so more people can include the therapy in their self-care routines.

Everyone, including pregnant women, is welcome, although Williams warns that those with freshly dyed hair, new tattoos, infectious diseases, or large, open wounds should hold off.

“We want to build up our clientele,” he says, “but also create a community.”

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.