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WATER WORLD (from NS Magazine)

Float your cares and pains away at Wilmette's new Oto Float.

Who knew that an hour suspended in 10 inches of epsom salt-infused water in a dark, enclosed tank could be a luxuriously transformative experience? We certainly didn't; then we tried Oto Float, Wilmette's newest spa sensation.

Oto Float co-founder and Winnetka native Tait Runnfeldt Medina discovered floating more than 20 years ago when, as a professional ballet dancer, she used it to help speed muscle recovery after intense rehearsals. Since then, she's earned a Ph.D. and uses her academic training to quantify the many mind-body benefits of float therapy, which include reducing stress and pain as well as improving focus and sleep. Athletes use it as a visualization tool—to prepare for a big race or game. A well-known Bears player is a frequent Oto Float visitor, as is Medina's 6-year-old son.

The float pods at Oto Float are spacious, sinuous white vessels nestled in a pristine chamber that includes a private shower and changing room. Medina and her partners reimagined the environment so it bears no resemblance to the coffin-like "sensory deprivation tanks" of decades past. Everything is adjustable, so the pod can be open or closed and the lights and audio can be off or on.

After a few minutes splashing around to make sure we wouldn't drown (no worries, you're as buoyant as a cork), the sensation of floating developed into complete weightlessness—even the water seemed to disappear. Feeling nothing is surprisingly blissful. And according to Medina, the effects of regular floating go beyond the session. "You start noticing how it impacts you in daily life," she says. During time of stress at work or in traffic or with your kids, "you can access neural pathways developed during floating to remain calm and relaxed."

1214 Washington Ave., Wilmette, 847.906.3299,

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