HUNTERSVILLE – At Buoyance, owners Cecil Roebuck and his wife, Lydia Breighner, want you to lose yourself, literally.
The spa’s low lighting reflects off walls painted soothing shades of blue and green. The design scheme is based upon the five elements: earth, fire, ice, air and water.
A hallmark of their service is flotation therapy, meaning an hour spent in a fiberglass tank enclosing 12 inches of water mixed with magnesium sulfate.
Developed in 1954 by John Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., the tank is meant to significantly induce relaxation via the limitation of outside stimulants.
Inside the 5.5-foot wide, 10-foot tall structure, a sense of sight, sound and smell quickly evaporates. Since the water is around the same temperature as human skin, a sense of touch vanishes, as well.
“Everything goes back to right when you came out of the womb. It’s very warm, very wet, very quiet, very dark,” Roebuck said. “There’s no sense of direction, no sense of time. These are big senses that we build in our mind as adults. ‘What time is it? Where am I going?’ That’s a lot to take away from your sense of being, your sense of self.”
According to Roebuck, the tank confuses one’s protagonistic and antagonistic muscle function because of the anti-gravity effect, which causes muscle tension to release and the brain to flood the body with endorphins.
“An hour in the tank is worth four hours of deep, meditative sleep,” he said.
The couple ran a spa business in Charlottesville, Va., before moving to Huntersville four years ago.
Although he was trained in professional massage techniques at the Reese Institute in Florida, Roebuck also holds a master’s degree from Drexel University in cardiovascular perfusion, which trained him to manage the heart-lung machine in emergency rooms, and spent eight years as a parade specialist in Walt Disney World.
Committed to health and wellness, he and his seven staff members focus on providing deep-tissue, prenatal, hot stone and neuromuscular massage.
They also dabble in the Eastern tradition, offering Thai foot reflexology, where trigger points on the feet are pressed to stimulate optimal organ health.
Buoyance also boasts a Vichy shower, which exfoliates the skin and relaxes muscles and joints.
“You lay under it and drops of water hit you at so many ohms per minute [a measure of electrical resistance], and it gives you a vibratory feeling,” Roebuck said.
Those lured in by the sweet smell of vanilla sugar may gravitate toward an array of skin-wrap techniques meant to open the pores and rid the body of impurities.
Having worked at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta as a sports therapist, Roebuck sees area swim, bike and tennis teams who come in for acupressure and massage sessions or to sit in the 100-jet Jacuzzi.
“I like to see everyone’s reactions, to see the tension release,” he said. “We’re here for the relaxation of the human body.”