Photo and story by Toriana Williams / Contributing Writer
In 1996, Amy Grimes’ life changed for the better.
For most of her life, Grimes, a Murfreesboro business owner, has had to deal with the misfortune of chronic pain.
“Living with chronic pain is horrible. I made it to work every day, but then I would come home at night, lay down and suffer,” she said. “When you have that pain all the time, it wears down your system. We now know that there’s a connection between inflammation and depression. Having chronic pain and not being able to participate in anything, every day just got worse. It was a terrible way to live.”
Soon, Grimes found her saving grace and began to live a life she could be proud of.
Twenty or so years ago, Grimes was in Washington, D.C., on a business trip to attend a conference. She woke up, and her pain had skyrocketed.
“On a scale of zero to 10, 10 being the worst, I lived at a six,” Grimes said.
And that morning, she was at a 10 and barely able to function.
“I thought if I could get a massage that maybe I could get through it,” Grimes said.
She looked for a massage therapist, and once she found one, she described the type of pain she dealt with on a daily basis. Afterwards, Grimes found herself descending into the massage therapist’s basement, and that was only the beginning.
“When you live with chronic pain, first of all, your entire life is rough to begin with,” Grimes said. “I constantly depended on my husband, my friends stopped calling me because I couldn’t go out and my doctors didn’t know what was going on. When you live with that much pain and someone tells you, ‘Hey, I’ve got this tank in my basement, and it might be able to help you,’ and they’re a complete stranger in a random town where the only person that knows where you’re at is your cab driver, you’re like ‘Sure!’ with no hesitation.”
Sitting before Grimes in the massage therapist’s basement was a float tank filled with over 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt dissolved in 93-degree water in a low sensory environment with no light and no sound. Sure, it looked scary, but Grimes would do anything to make the pain go away.
“When I came out, I wasn’t completely cured, but my pain level was down,” she said. “I was able to function. I came back for two more days, and my pain level shot down to a two, which for me was a whole new way of living.”
After that, it took her two years to find a facility where she could float again that was closer to home.
“Finally, I discovered a place where I could go,” Grime said. “For the next 10 years, I would have to travel to Chicago to float, and it was around that time I left my corporate job and went to become a massage therapist. I opened my own private practice, but I knew I wanted to bring float tanks to people who were in pain like me.”
That was when the idea of Float Nashville came to fruition.
When Grimes decided to open her own floatation center, she realized that float tanks weren’t even regulated in Tennessee.
“It was a long, long process,” Grimes said. “I had gone to the health department, and they said, ‘Oh sure, you’ll just have to meet these regulations,’ and they handed me swimming pool regulations.”
However, with float tanks, you’re naked in a dark room, floating in a small body of water. Being alone with a lifeguard might be a bit awkward, so she knew that wasn’t going to work.
“There was a lot of educating to be done,” and she did just that.
“After 20 months, Mark (Grimes’ best friend and business partner) and I started Float Nashville in 2013, the first float tank center in Tennessee,” continued Grimes. “Except we knew that three float tanks in Nashville weren’t going to be enough. We always knew we wanted to expand, and when we looked at our numbers, we assumed Murfreesboro would be our next step.”
Float Alchemy, located at 131 Cason Lane, opened thereafter. However, this float center focuses on more than just floatation therapy. It also offers cryotherapy, infrared saunas, massage therapy and muse meditations.
“Now I own this business that has helped me, and I wake up every day excited to help people with the services I provide. Now I believe there’s hope. I believe that once you give someone hope, everything changes for them, because it did for me,” Grimes said.
Not only does floatation therapy help others, it provides a community of support for Grimes.
“I’m a part of a podcast (which you can find on FloatNashville.com) with two other float center owners, and we help others start float tanks,” she said. “Being a part of things like this makes me always feel surrounded by love. We get to know a lot of people that walk through those doors, and we get to share that love with them too.”
Grimes is very empathetic with her customers.
“I have sat in this center with customers and cried with them. It’s really empowering that we’re able to help these people that much,” she said.
One of her favorite memories is when a man who could barely walk, even with a cane, came in for a float tank appointment. After he finished his appointment and left barreling through the door, Mark and Grimes found his cane while cleaning the tanks.
“He never came back for it,” she said.
Even soldiers take advantage of the services Float Alchemy offers.
“We’ve had many soldiers come in with PTSD, acting very solemn. Once they come out of the tanks, they seem rejuvenated and tell us stories from their time overseas. There are some touching times in this business,” she said, mentioning that people have even fallen in love on their couch.
“They came out of their floats, and they started talking. The next thing you know, they meet here for their floats, because they’re from two different places and go on a date afterward,” Grimes said.
While Grimes has more plans for expansion, she first wishes to see where Float Alchemy will go and who it will help in Murfreesboro.
“We originally planned to expand, but it’s already a handful,” Grime said. “There’s a learning curve with this. I would like to stop for the moment, expand in Murfreesboro and make connections within the community. We really love the people that we serve and the chance to get to know them. We’d love to see more students come in as well. There’s so many fun opportunities here. I have a feeling we’re going to sit on it for a while and see what Float Alchemy can really become.”
Stay updated with Float Alchemy, visit their website, FloatAlchemy.com, their Facebook and their Instagram, @floatalchemy.
To contact Lifestyles Editor Sydney Wagner, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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