From the Peace Corps to teaching advanced biology to recent immigrant teenagers at the Brooklyn International School, David Conneely has spent his working life helping others grow and reach their potential.
Now he wants people to float in warm water in a dark, insulated private room. It’s a relaxing, rejuvenating experience — and one that, in its own way, encourages people to grow and reach their potential.
David’s path to iFloat — on Main Street above Oscar’s, it’s the only 4-room float center east of Arizona — was an outgrowth of his own desire to understand how to harness the mind’s shifting patterns.
David first floated — in warm water with 1000 pounds of Epsom salt, no light and almost no sound; the incredibly relaxing experience calms the nervous system, amplifies slow brain waves that are the source of creativity and insight, and stimulates dopamine — about 5 years ago.
Inspired and enlightened, he bought a float tank for his own New York apartment. He taught workshops. Last summer, a colleague offered to invest, if David wanted to expand.
He loved teaching, but sensed the time was right to make a move. Andrew Shinn, his partner in a long-distance relationship, lived in Cambridge. They decided to open a float tank in Boston, and gave themselves a year to get ready.
Through Google, Andrew stumbled on iFloat, an existing business in Westport. Driving to Brooklyn to visit David, he stopped in.
No one was there. Andrew learned the former owner had basically abandoned it 2 months earlier. Two days from then, workers would rip out the float tanks, and turn it into a chiropractor’s office.
Lee Papageorge, Oscar’s owner and iFloat’s landlord, saw Andrew’s concern. Lee said the iFloat owner might sell his business to Andrew.
After poring over spreadsheets and talking with lawyers, David and Andrew made an offer. Nine months earlier than they expected — and 160 miles south — they owned a suite of float tanks.
Though they did not choose Westport — “it chose us,” David says — the choice worked out well.
The owners have done plenty of community outreach. Artists receive 3 complimentary floats, in exchange for providing float-inspired works. Teachers, students, public employees and nurses get discounts.
A monthly wellness event (with free food and drinks) is a popular attraction. Courses and lectures on improving brain patterns and communication are good draws too.
David and Andrew love those crowds. But they also appreciate serving as sounding boards for people after their hour in the float tank.
“Things pop into your mind while you’re suspended there,” David explains. “You’re isolated from all stimuli. You just rest, reduce stress, and concentrate on healing your body and mind.” iFloat’s lounge (with tea) is a good place to re-acclimate.
As a long-time teacher, David enjoys educating Westporters about the float experience.
“We want this to be a place were people can come, slow down, reflect, and leave in a better state of mind.”