Reuben Riddell has been a school dropout, an army recruit and a personal trainer – but now he is floating through life, literally.
He has just started up the city’s only float centre – Uplift – where people are invited to switch off from the world while they bob atop a layer of water.
“Think of it as a physical and mental reset to the system,” he says. “Like, having a full body massage but mentally you feel really clear. It’s an amazing feeling – the complete opposite of what we are used to in life, which is just over-stimulation.”
Reuben was born and raised in Nelson and went to Nayland College before leaving to work in a factory for a time. He realised that wasn’t where his passion lay so, after getting his education, he joined the army. But then an accident meant his body wasn’t up to the task.
That’s when he found floating. He was listening to a podcast which described it and thought: “That sounds pretty cool.”
It works by bombarding the water with salts which increases its density and allows the body to float.
He booked himself into a centre in Auckland and came away feeling like he was on cloud nine.
“I was just beaming. I knew then that this is what I wanted to do.”
There wasn’t anywhere in Nelson but Reuben thinks it’s an ideal place for it – full of creatives, business people and those who are into sport. He says there is something for everyone in their experience.
It has been a journey. He has transformed a building on Rutherford St, which used to be a performing arts school and then a music studio, into his own float centre.
“I took down every wall, bar one. It took a long time and there were some spanners thrown in the works.”
His business partner dropped out, before another one jumped on board after trying floating herself.
“For every bad thing that’s happened there’s been a good thing. I’m really grateful.”
But the best experience for him is having someone walk in for the first time full of stress and walk away like he did on his own experience – totally floating.