Tara Lantz and Lindsay MacPhee are opening Atlantic Canada's first floatation Centre. To learn more, visit thefloatationcentre.ca. (photo: Meghan Tansey Whitton)

Engineering A Float

Lindsay MacPhee and Tara Lantz “just want to do good stuff,” including introducing sensory deprivation—floating—to Halifax.

By Christina Copp | spring 2015

For many young people, especially now, the career path on which they start is often winding. And sometimes it leads them where they never imagined themselves going. For Lindsay MacPhee, that sentiment certainly rings true.

MacPhee, an environmental engineer by trade, and a Saint Mary’s graduate, has driven off that road and onto something completely different—she’s opening Atlantic Canada’s first floatation centre. And she’s not doing it alone—she has another SMU graduate right alongside her, Tara Lantz.

“Everything in the past has everything to do with where we are now,” says MacPhee thoughtfully. After graduating SMU—MacPhee in 2004 with a Forensics, Biological Engineering certificate, and Lantz in 2003 with a BsC in Chemistry—both women, who both say they “sort of” knew each other, ended up in Vancouver. 

“Tara is a triplet, so everyone knew who they were because they were triplets,” says MacPhee, “but they were also the smartest gals at Saint Mary’s!”

They reconnected and became friends, and eventually roommates. “If you had asked me then if I’d be living with Tara in the future, I would’ve said, ‘Oh no, she’s way too cool for me!’” MacPhee says, laughing. “We realized we had the same passion for wanting to do really good stuff and like, helping people, healing people.”

After a series of emotionally testing events, including a divorce, MacPhee was ready for a change. It was during this time she discovered meditation, and floating. (Floating? More on that later.) After several years in western Canada, MacPhee wanted to return to Halifax, and it turned out, so did Lantz. With a job lined up, MacPhee packed her belongings and drove across the country. However, she was about halfway home when she got some life-changing news.

“I got the call that my job had actually fallen through,” she says. “It was a blessing in disguise because I knew environmental engineering wasn’t the path for me, it was just something I was good at. I’d spent a lot of time dreaming and meditating trying to figure out what I wanted to do, what my purpose was, and I’d always felt I wanted to be someone who helps people.”

Thankfully, Lantz is no stranger to helping people. She’s a naturopathic doctor, with practices in Mahone Bay, soon to be in Halifax and a travelling practice in Yarmouth and East Hants. Between her wellness experience, and MacPhee’s engineering experience, they’re building the foundation for an extraordinary wellness centre this city hasn’t yet seen.

What is floating, exactly? You may have heard of sensory deprivation tanks, which have been around for decades, but not existed in these parts. Picture a bathtub, filled with water about 25 centimetres deep, and about 360 kilograms of Epsom salts. You get in, close the door so that you’re surrounded by darkness. Because of all the salt, you float with ease. For 75 minutes, all you do is let your mind relax, and body float.

“It’s weird—you’re used to tension when you’re floating in normal water to keep your head up, even in salt water, but here you can relax every single muscle,” says Lantz. (For those who may worry about feeling claustrophobic, MacPhee says there’s a light that can be turned on from inside the tank, so a floater should never feel trapped.)

Floating’s meditative powers can equal four to six hours of deep sleep. “Studies are coming out every week showing how beneficial meditation is,” Lantz says. “I see it like running a defrag program on our old PCs or hitting a reset button—it helps sort through the static and allows our system to reset.”

But it’s not just for relaxation, according to Lantz. It also helps with anxiety, depression, stress, pain management for pregnant women or people suffering from fibromyalgia and arthritis, among other things.

Putting together the physical Floatation Centre, which will be located in Halifax’s north end, has been relatively easy for MacPhee, thanks to her background. “In terms of creating the space, I knew from an engineering standpoint what had to go into it,” she says. “Trying to explain to contractors has been interesting, but as soon as I do, and they see my excitement and they’re like, ‘I need this!’”

The Floatation Centre will be one-stop shopping for feeling good—including naturopathic medicine, with Lantz at the helm, plus massage therapy, a dietitian and a lounge area for floaters to relax after relaxing.

With the support of the community through a crowd-funding campaign and the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development, MacPhee and Lantz will see the official opening of the Floatation Centre this Spring. As long as the anticipation doesn’t get them first.

“I am most excited about shifting thoughts on health.,” says Lantz. “Floatation therapy, beyond it being relaxing, and helping with things like meditation, is therapeutic.”

“I just want to do good stuff,” says MacPhee. “I want to be an enabler of positivity. By reducing stress or tapping into meditation, it’s all possible.”

Campus Notes: “I give because I believe in Saint Mary’s University.”

Featured Articles: James Curleigh: The Rock Star CEO

Alumni News: Getting Back to the Classroom