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MMA fighters find mental edge with floating

By Trevor Dueck, 24 hours Vancouver

Georges St-Pierre said it best: “Once you enter a fight, it becomes 90% mental and 10% physical because your training is already done.” So what are athletes doing to prepare their minds to compete at a high level? One method is called floating.

Mike Zaremba is the co-owner of Float House Vancouver in Gastown, where I was introduced to sensory deprivation tanks. I even got to try floating for myself. I got naked, took a nice shower, put in some earplugs and got into a large tank full of water and 800 pounds of dissolved epsom salt warmed to the same temperature as my body. I got into the tank, closed the door and there I was, completely buoyant on my back in the dark. There were no sounds, smells or sights — just my thoughts to keep me company.

At first, I found it rather difficult to turn off my brain and calm the nervous energy in my body. I felt like I was in some space-age contraption, where I was supposed to just let everything slip away and meditate.

UFC lightweight Pat Healy was having problems calming his mind on fight day so he decided to take up floating.

"It's hard to explain, but man, you really come out of there feeling relaxed," he said of the tanks, which have been used by UFC commentator Joe Rogan and UFC fighters such as Gegard Mousasi, Pat Barry and others. "You can really focus your mind in there."

I eventually calmed myself and focused on controlling my breathing. I slipped away into some sort of relaxed dream state. I had no sense of time. All of a sudden I heard what sounded like soft music coming from who knows where. Was it my mind playing tricks on me? No, it was a nice way for the Float House Vancouver staff to tell me that it’s time to slowly wake up as the 90 minutes of my floating experience was coming to an end. When I got out, it was like someone had pressed my internal reset button.

Floating is a personal and spiritual experience and whether it’s used to meditate before a fight, or before a big business meeting, it’s a great way to relax your mind, body and soul. I recommend trying floating at Vancouver Float House more than once to get the full experience.

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