A wellness wonder: Inside Dubuque’s Float and Fly Wellness Studio

Float and Fly Wellness Studio is located in downtown Dubuque. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

Tanya Billmeyer is the owner of Float and Fly Wellness Studio in Dubuque. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

Erin Mikulice demonstrates sound healing using crystal bowls at Float and Fly Wellness Studio in Dubuque. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

Infrared saunas are another amenity available at the Dubuque wellness studio. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

In addition to float therapy, Float and Fly also offers aerial yoga. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

Massage therapy is another highlight at Float and Fly Wellness Studio. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

After years of struggling to find effective ways to treat the pain she was experiencing from fibromyalgia, Tanya Billmeyer knew that there must be other options, not only for her but for others.

Then, she tried floating.

The positive experience she had suspended in an over-sized sensory deprivation pod prompted her to open Float and Fly Wellness Studio in November 2017.

Located in downtown Dubuque, the business stands as one of the only wellness studios within 60 miles of the tri-state area that offers float therapy.

According to Billmeyer, a Dubuque native, the availability of float therapy locally has not only helped improve people’s physical well-being — including hers — but aided in their mental health as well.

“Float therapy is not new, but it is new for here,” Billmeyer said.

The benefits of floating

Studies have shown that flotation therapy can yield many perks — among them, soothing anxiety and stress.

But, as Billmeyer discovered, it can come to the aid of dealing with chronic pain as well.

“Some people float because they are dealing with chronic pain and want to avoid medication,” she said. “Others come because they are looking for relaxation and balance in their lives.”

It also is non-invasive.

“Floating is a safe place, especially for the most vulnerable people,” Billmeyer said. “We don’t ask questions, and we are not intrusive. We just let you float.”

It also serves as a way to disconnect from the world and take a break from the noise.

“We are plugged in all of the time,” Billmeyer said. “We live in a world that if you are awake, you are constantly receiving information. Our phones are always with us, and if we get a text, we feel bad if we do not answer right away.”

What to expect

For those new to floating, Billmeyer recommended a one-hour floating session.

“It takes about 20 to 25 minutes for a mental shift to happen for most floaters,” she said. “During that time, the mind is still winding down.”

After the first 25 minutes, Billmeyer explained that people often enter a “fade away stage.” She described it as the state experienced prior to falling asleep.

Although some might only drift into this state for a minute or two prior to falling into a deeper sleep, floating offers a different experience.

“When you float, you are suspended in the ‘fade away stage’ after the mind settles down,” Billmeyer said. “One hour of floating is equal to five hours of sleep.”

Float and Fly also has journals available for customers to write in during or after their floats.

“When floating, many people are struggling with big decisions, and some people are called to journal about them,” Billmeyer said. “Artists and business owners are sometimes looking for creative ideas when floating, so the journal also helps them put the thought to paper.”

Additionally, floaters are in full control of their environment.

“Our pods are bigger than some cars, and customers are able to close the lid or leave it open,” Billmeyer said.

For the float sessions, customers are provided private suites that hold a float pod and shower, as well as shampoo, conditioner and other amenities for self care.

“All you need to bring is an open mind,” Billmeyer said.

In addition to float therapy, Float and Fly also offers aerial yoga, sound healing, infrared saunas and massage therapy.

“We have certified instructors and wellness employees who are able to provide these healing experiences,” Billmeyer said.

Wellness in the time of COVID-19

In the time of a global pandemic, Billmeyer believes the need for mental health resources is higher than ever. She encouraged all to take advantage of self care.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with self care,” Billmeyer said. “Throughout the past few months, people everywhere are dealing with different situations. Some are experiencing anxiety and depression they never have before. Others have returned to addictions or self-harming tendencies. Regardless, everyone is in need of self care at this time.”

Billmeyer’s hope is that through businesses like Float and Fly, people can take advantage of such offerings locally.

“As a small business in Dubuque, I always focused on how we could contribute in a positive way,” she said. “Although these services helped me as well, I think that by bringing flotation therapy to the community, Float and Fly has impacted the mental health of this community greatly.”

Emily Boge is a freelance writer from Dubuque.

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