Kelly Clay, owner of Fresno’s True REST Float Spa, shows off a state of the art float pod used for float rest, a form of therapy that is gaining in popularity.

published on October 12, 2018 - 7:00 AM
Written by Frank Lopez

Looking for a new way to relax?

A new business in Fresno is helping customers float their troubles away through floatation therapy.

True REST Float Spa opened on Monday at 1144 Champlain Drive near Perrin Avenue, allowing patrons to try first hand the growing trend of floatation therapy. While there is a float spa in Clovis, True REST is the first one to bring the “spa” look and feel to floatation therapy for our area.

First started in the 1950s, flotation therapy has also been called sensory deprivation, floatation REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy), and isolation tank therapy.

Floating involves a person lying down in a pod, usually closed, that is filled with water and Epsom salt that allows the person to float, and blocks sound and light to remove any physical stimulation of the senses. The water is kept at body temperature so that it is not felt and gives floaters the sensation of weightlessness.

Nick and Holly Janicki opened the first True REST Float Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2009 after scanning the globe for the different healing technologies for their own use. After months of research and enjoying the benefits of floating, they decided to share it.

The first location was a hit in the area and over the next 5 years, the Janickis grew the business and started to franchise in 2014. Today, True REST is the largest float therapy franchise in the world, and is also the fastest growing float franchise with more than 62 locations in development and plans to have more than 100 locations across the country by the end of the year. The Fresno location is the 25th True REST Spa to open.

Kelly Clay is the owner of the True REST Float Spa in Fresno. After having tried floatation therapy about a year and a half ago, she fell in love with it. Originally she wanted to start her own float spa, but after initial research she found that building a brand would be too complicated and she started searching for a franchise to work with.

She had shopped around and at first she didn’t want to go with True REST, but after her experience of floating at their location in Austin, Texas, Clay decided to work with them. True REST supported Clay with her build out, marketing, content and administrative work.

“The majority of people are intrigued. We are craving that as a society – that mindfulness and introspection,” Clay said. “We’ve got so many things coming at us with TV, news, phones, computers– we are always connected. I think people crave that time to themselves to completely disconnect.”

Two peas in float pod

Clay opened the spa with her husband and business partner, David Clay, and while Kelly describes herself as more of the risk taker, there was some apprehension from her husband on whether Fresno would be a good market for True REST.

Clay said that perhaps five years ago, Fresno wouldn’t have been ready for float therapy, but now with so many yoga studios, alternative and holistic therapies and doctors in the area, she sees that perceptions are changing in Fresno and that many people are seeking different ways to find mental and physical relief.

The therapy hasn’t been lost on professional athletes, with superstars like New England Patriot’s Tom Brady and the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry promoting the benefits of float therapy.

To some, the idea of floating in water in a darkened, soundproof pod might sound like a new-age holistic fad, but there are studies to back up the proposed benefits of float therapy.

One meta-analysis from academic journal Psychology and Health looked into 27 studies published from 1983 to 2002 regarding the effects of floatation therapy, revealing that the overall findings suggests floating could have beneficial effects on mood, blood pressure and stress levels.

A recent report in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, a journal of the Society for Biological Psychiatry, found that floaters reported that they had a substantial reduction in anxiety and muscle tension, and substantial increases in serenity and relaxation.


Working for REST


Since the float spa industry is fairly new, and a float spa doesn’t fall under a conventional spa, or a swimming pool, codes and regulations can vary from place to place.

There are health code regulations for water and regulations for water filters, but other than that, float spas are regulated as if they are in an area in between swimming pools, spas and hot-tub spas.

Nick Janicki was instrumental in the design for the pods at True REST and he is working on designing a completely circular pod for better soundproofing. There are four pods at the Fresno location with each pod costing about $30,000.

There were some extensive renovations done to the interior of the building to make sure it was built to produce optimal conditions for the float pods. Almost all of the walls in the building are double walled and insulated to make the rooms soundproof to prevent distractions. The pod rooms were tiled to withstand the salt water, and dimming lights and rainfall showerheads were installed.

There is a rest area where people can go relax before and after their float, and there is a complimentary oxygen bar available, an addition from Clay after she had seen enthusiasm for it from people she talked to during build out.

Clay said she chose the area because of the quietness and liked the surrounding health and wellness businesses such as Blue Moon Yoga, Inspire Fitness, Young Chefs Academy and Massage Envy Spa.

Clay said that even before the shop opened she was getting calls and emails from people curious about it, and the spa is already fully booked for the opening week.

True REST in Fresno has one full time manager and three part-time employees, with the possibility of another part-time hire or making a current employee full-time.

Clay says that she feels the community will be receptive to this new alternative therapy and she would like to expand to a health conscious area that might be lacking a float spa.

“I would love to open up another place in Clovis and then eventually go towards the coast. We’ll see how this goes in Fresno and within a year I’d like to open up in Clovis and then have a third location within three years.”

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