Spokane Journal of Business

Renew Float Spa: Staying afloat in Kendall Yards


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-—Kevin Blocker
Renew Float Spa owner Kelly Glenn says more than 1,100 people have come in for a float so far. The business also has 33 monthly members.
-—Renew Float Spa
Renew Float Spa uses pods that are about 5 feet tall and slightly over 6 1/2 feet long. The warm water is mixed with 850 pounds of Epsom salt that enables users to float. In all, each pod weighs 2,250 pounds.

Just entering a room with a tank filled with 100 gallons of warm water and 850 pounds of swirling Epsom salt can be therapeutic on these recent cold days.

The room’s lighting is low, and there’s a soft, soothing hiss created by the mist emanating from a container, called a float pod, that appears to be straight out of a science-fiction novel. The pod is about 5 feet high, 6 feet 7 inches in length, and weighs close to 2,250 pounds with a foot of 94-degree water in it.

The buoyancy created by the Epsom salt removes the effect of gravity on the body, ensuring you won’t drown. The point of floating—as it’s called—is to leave the user feeling weightless, giving every muscle in the body a chance to relax, says Kelly Glenn, owner of Renew Float Spa in Kendall Yards.

Floating can be a relief for those in search of an hour-long escape from the chaos of their day or for those who experience some form of chronic pain. Glenn estimates that 90 percent of his clients float to help manage chronic pain.

“Floating is great for pain management as well as mental health,” he asserts.

Glenn opened Renew Float Spa, located at 1170 W. Summit Parkway, last July. Though he wouldn’t reveal company revenues to date, he says Renew Float Spa is profitable. The business now has 33 monthly members, and more than 1,100 people have come through the spas doors for a float, Glenn says.

A first-time float is $49, and individual floats thereafter are $79. Renew Float Spa offers four different monthly memberships. One float per month is $49 with each additional float costing $49. Packages also are offered for two, four, and eight floats per month and range from $90 to $280. 

A yearly membership, which includes a float per week, costs $1,560. Glenn says monthly and annual memberships can roll over to the following month or year if a member doesn’t use them all in an allotted period of time.

He leases 1,200 square feet of space in Kendall Yards and has three float pods there, each located in its own room.

He says some of his repeat floaters have included current members of the Gonzaga men’s basketball team this season.

“What’s the big guy’s name, (Przemek) Karnowski? He came in here with another seven-footer, and I was trying to tell them that the pods are only six-feet-seven inches long, but they said that was okay,” Glenn says.

Renew Float Spa member Jeannine Burns says she’s a believer in the physical benefits that come with floating.

“I don’t think I’ll ever not float. It’s like my little sanctuary,” says Burns, who Glenn says is one of his most ardent and loyal floaters.

“When I get in the water my mind doesn’t immediately stop racing. I’m still thinking about work,” says Burns, a Spokane Realtor. “But all it takes is a few minutes and the next thing I know I’m asleep.”

“I find it’s best to come at night. If I can make this one of the last things, if not the last thing, I do in the day, I’m guaranteed a great night of sleep,” she says.

Upon entering a spa room, customers are asked to shower before getting in a float pod. Each pod has its own stereo system that plays roughly five to 10 minutes of ambient music at the outset of a float. 

The pod’s interior is lightly illuminated, and eventually the lights turn off, though users can manually turn the lights back on from inside the pod.

 “The goal is to turn the light off for complete relaxation,” Glenn says. “When the music comes back on an hour later that’s the cue that the float’s over.”

 Adds Glenn, “You’re going to stretch and move and pop; you’re probably going to pop like you’ve never popped. Turn the light back on, exit the pod, take a quick shower, get dressed, and you’re on your way. It’s that simple.”

I went floating myself in order to more effectively describe the experience to Journal readers. I found it to be more relaxing than any massage I’ve ever had. I enjoyed it so much that I went back again a couple of days later. In addition to the relaxation factor, what I appreciate about the float pod is the privacy it affords.

Glenn says couples frequently enter the spa wanting to float together. But he’s absolutely right when he tells them that the point of floating is for the individual to have solitude and to unwind. After my time spent in the pods, I completely agree. Floating is an experience that is going to become commonplace for me.

All three pods at Renew Float Spa have expansive filtration systems daily producing clean water. Glenn says the advanced filtration systems allow for the water to only be changed once a year.

Floating can be a challenge, he says, for those who suffer from claustrophobia. He recommends not having too big a meal before floating and to not have had alcohol before floating.

Glenn thinks he’s created a business that’s much less stressful for him than his prior business.

In 2005, Glenn started Platinum TownCar Service, a sedan transportation company that catered to business-class travelers in and out of Spokane.

“It was literally a 24-hour-a-day job, and by the end it was running me. I wasn’t running it,” Glenn says.

In 2013, Glenn, now 48, went to Southern California to visit a former high school classmate for a vacation. Glenn, who describes the former classmate as a “total hippie,” says his friend looked at him and said, “Dude, you need to float.”

Glenn says he was the heaviest he’d ever been in his life and also was suffering from high blood pressure. He says he was leery of floating once his friend explained it to him. 

“I’m skeptical of everything. I don’t know too many people more skeptical than me,” he says.

He says he became a believer in the benefits of floating on his second float, two days after his first one.

“I got out, and for the first time in probably my whole life, I had no neck and shoulder pain. Right there is when I decided I want to run a float business,” he says.

After selling the transportation company, Glenn says he spent a year researching floating, attending seminars in Portland and Seattle to learn more about how to start a floating business. He then went through an apprenticeship program learning how to help people get the most out of their floating experience.

Glenn says it often takes a second float visit for customers to truly relax and appreciate the benefits of what it has to offer.

Despite the comfort that floating offers, Glenn says many people struggle while doing it.

“The hardest part for people to relax is head and shoulders because our bodies are never in a position of not supporting ourselves,” Glenn says.

“People will often lay there not really knowing they’re holding their head up. The objective is to relax your head all the way back and take the pressure off your neck muscles,” he says.

Glenn says he’s a Type A personality who for most of his life has struggled to relax. He understands how challenging floating can be for clients like himself.

“When I really stop and think about it, floating has changed my life,” he says.

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