An exciting new wellness experience is coming to Gloucestershire!


Shari Vandervelde and her partner Will Griffin are setting up Float in the Forest, which will be a floatation centre in the Forest of Dean.

This represents the beginning of a new era for Shari and Will, and a time of anniversaries too.  They are both celebrating their 40th birthdays this year, and what better way to mark it than by starting a new business together!  They both tried floatation for the first time in London 20 years ago.  They have loved floating ever since, and so opening a float centre is the culmination of a long-held dream.

Floatation is a wonderful relaxation therapy where you float effortlessly on the surface of warm salty water, giving a sense of weightlessness, a bit like in the Dead Sea. 

[tweetthis]Imagine relaxing in a giant bathtub that you can sleep in with peace of mind. [/tweetthis]

The temperature of the water is carefully controlled so that after a while you can’t tell where your body ends and the water begins.  Some people prefer to float with the light on and the door open, others prefer to remove all the distractions of light and sound.

Floatation is the ideal opportunity to get away from all the stressful distractions and sensory overload of modern life.  It can give a chance to switch the mind off and find peace.  For those who have struggled to calm the inner chatter, floating can be a welcome ‘short cut’ to meditation.

The water in the float pod contains over 500kg of Epsom salt.  This means it supports the body uniformly, with no part of the the body bearing on any surface.  This lack of pressure anywhere on the body allows the circulation to improve, and blood pressure is reduced.  Muscles, joints and bones are released from the effects of gravity, and tension is reduced. 

Thanks to this muscle relaxation, rehabilitation from injury is accelerated and pain is reduced.  Lactic acid is removed from body tissues more rapidly, as a result reducing fatigue and muscle ache.  By reducing recovery time, floating therefore can help improve performance in sport, and enable more effective training.

Levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol are reduced, and adrenalin also.  Floating empowers the body to heal itself by stimulating the parasympathetic response.  Many people suffering chronic pain due to conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and back pain have reported pain relief thanks to floating.  As well as offering respite from chronic pain, floating can reduce anxiety and bring better sleep.

All these benefits can be felt cumulatively by incorporating floating into your life as a practice.  Much like how you would not expect to get fit through one visit to a gym, the more you float the more you are able to relax and switch off, and notice the effects in your life.

There will be two float pods available when Float in the Forest first opens.  Although the float itself is a private experience, you will be able to come with a friend, float at the same time, and enjoy the post-float feeling together.

Float in the Forest will also have other holistic therapies available, so you could combine your float with a massage, amongst other wonderful relaxing experiences on offer. 

After your float you can relax on a comfy chair in the lounge and enjoy the ‘post-float glow’ with a choice of teas, books to read and work by local artists on the walls.

The blissful mood which many feel after their float is part of the joy of the experience.   People often report feeling that their senses have been awakened by floating.  After your float you could make the most of the beautiful natural environment of the Forest of Dean by going for a walk in the woods with your senses enhanced and a newfound feeling of peace.  The Forest of Dean is a natural sanctuary and an ideal place to relax, with miles of forest to explore and stunning landscapes at every turn.

Shari and Will moved to the Forest of Dean in 2011 because they love the natural landscape, and enjoy walking and running among the trees.  A couple of years ago they realised that whereas most floatation centres are located on busy urban streets, it would be even better to emerge from a relaxing experience into nature.

Although it may seem new, floatation has actually been around for quite a while – it was invented in the 1950s in the USA by Dr. John Lilly.  It was developed and made commercially available in the 1970s by Lee and Glenn Perry.  These two wonderful people are basically legends in the world of floatation.  Through a series of lucky coincidences Shari and Will had the chance to spend some time with Lee and Glenn at their home in Grass Valley, California at a perfect time in their journey, in 2016.  Shari and Will were able to float in their tanks (including their brand new prototype), and spent some wonderful time learning from them, being inspired and invigorated by the strength of their passion for floatation.

That was the beginning of Float in the Forest.  Shari and Will have been on an adventure developing the business ever since.  It took them 18 months  to find an appropriate location, looking into 16 places in some detail!

They now have a great premises which is located between Whitecroft and Bream, just 5 minutes from Lydney or 10 minutes from Coleford, in the heart of the Forest of Dean. 

Float in the Forest is not quite open yet, though they are making good progress.  Having secured the venue, and got planning permission, they now have some construction work to do.  They have worked out their construction plans, got building control approval, and a building contractor lined up to start work in October.  All being well, they hope to open early in the new year.

Lots more information can be found at, including much more about the specific benefits of floatation, and the decades of scientific research backing it up.

Sign up to their email list to be kept updated on their progress towards launch, and to ensure you get the chance to be one of the first to float.  If you get in quick you may be able to snap up one of the limited edition Early Bird offers!

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Shari grew up in Swindon, and moved to London to study Law at King’s College.  She quickly realised she was more interested in the effects of the criminal justice system on the people passing through it, rather than the law itself.  For the next few years she worked in and around prisons, probation, courts and police stations, working with drug users and their families.  Shari then moved on from that area of work and has since worked in a range of roles, mostly for small charities and other not-for-profit organisations putting her passion into causes she cares about and doing everything from co-ordinating activities, training and events, website design and marketing, through to fundraising and writing funding bids.  All these activities have stood her in good stead to embark on this business start-up and she is excited to see what the future will bring.

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