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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

The Salty Turtle Float Center: New Name and Mission, Same Serene Escape

Dec 30, 2022 09:31AM ● By Sheila Julson
Kris and John Fernandez, co-owners of The Salty Turtle Float Center, acknowledge that some people have never heard of floatation therapy. They’re determined to change that. Since purchasing Lancaster County’s first and only floatation therapy center—previously known as Bala Float Center—they’ve kept the soothing décor and private float suites while transitioning to a new name and launching educational efforts to promote the benefits of floating.

Floatation therapy involves floating in a pool or a pod filled with 10 inches of 94-degree water, in which 1,000 pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salt is dissolved. The saltwater solution effortlessly suspends the body and provides the sensation of floating in the Dead Sea, or as Kris describes, “it’s like being a cork buoyantly floating effortlessly.”

The therapy deeply relaxes the body, which promotes healing at the cellular level. Float therapy was pioneered by Dr. John C Lilly during the 1950s. Floatation therapy is also known as sensory deprivation or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST). The therapy can help lower blood pressure, release muscle tension, soothe the nervous system, decrease anxiety, promote better sleep, improve circulation and help resolve skin conditions.

Kris and John had first tried floatation therapy at Bala Float Center, then owned by Chris Smeltz, while researching holistic remedies for John’s anxiety. After several float sessions, John noticed improvement. After Kris’ mother died, she found healing through floatation therapy. “It helped me gather my thoughts and clear my mind,” she relates. “Before floatation therapy, I could not get my mind to stop racing.”

The couple developed a passion for floating and considered opening their own float center. They crafted a business plan but were turned down for a loan. John continued to float at Bala, and in 2019, Smeltz mentioned that he was selling. “We knew we had to buy it,” Kris affirms.

Tapping Into Untapped Potential

Kris and John wanted a name that would reflect their mission of engaging and supporting the community through outreach and education. The name Salty Turtle Float Center encompasses many things: Turtles float and are considered a spirit animal, and they represent longevity, perseverance, healing and tranquility. “We wanted something trendy and representative of the generation we’re in today,” Kris says.

Soon to come is halotherapy for adults and children. Also known as salt therapy, halotherapy involves inhaling air with tiny salt particles to improve breathing. Also new is the Vibro Acoustic Mat and Far-Infrared Therapy Mat. Clients can lie on the mat and listen to music through headphones while the mat vibrates and emits gentle heat.

“The music is in sync with the vibrations of the mat,” Kris explains. The mat can provide temporary relief of minor back pain, and joint and muscle aches. It is offered along with float packages.

The Salty Turtle Float center space has two, private, floatation suites. Each has an area to undress and shower before going into the float tank. First time floaters are given an orientation and supplies such as ear plugs and hair ties. Floaters shower to remove dirt and oil from the body before entering the float tank.

Kris and John advise first time floaters to have no expectations and be very open-minded; the experience is different for everyone. While floating, clients may adjust the soft lighting and music, or turn it off for full sensory deprivation. “We typically recommend that people be still and stay relaxed,” Kris recommends. When a float session is complete, clients exit the float tank and shower again. Chocolate and tea are offered afterward.

Because studies show floatation therapy has helped veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and people in drug and alcohol detoxification, Kris and John plan to reach out to those populations. They will contact local college athletics programs to promote the benefits of floating to athletes. They plan to increase community outreach to nonprofits and organizations throughout Lancaster and add corporate wellness programs.

In addition, Kris says they will offer T-shirts, bath bombs and other wellness products. “There’s lots of untapped potential and we’re exploring that. We’re here to have a trendy but relaxing place where people can release stress and improve their health and wellness,” Kris says.

The Salty Turtle Float Center is located at 903 Nissley Rd., Unit H, Lancaster. For more information, call 717-537-6955 or visit