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article imageHot Tub Time Machine: A history of personal spas through the ages

Commissioned Content
By Kay Mathews     Jul 2, 2014 in Health
The origins of personal spas can be traced back many thousands of years. Evidence from 2,000 B.C. suggests that the ancient Egyptians were enjoying hot therapeutic baths at that time. Similarly, the healing power of hot water has been revered in Asian cultures for thousands of the years.
As the story goes, around 600 B.C., it was Persian King Phraortes who experienced the first official hot tub, which was "chiseled of solid granite." The writings of Greek philosophers, such as Hippocrates and Homer, indicate "that the therapeutic value of hot water was appreciated and well understood" by the Greek in 500 B.C.
Four hundred and seventy-five years later, Roman Baths were making a splash. It is reported that "in 25 B.C., Agrippa, a chief deputy under Augustus, designed and built the first thermae, a large bath with extensive facilities." Subsequent rulers made it a point to outdo each other when it came to building extravagant spa facilities and, as time passed, the bathing treatments for wounded and ailing legionnaires were called "Sanus Per Aquam" (healing through water) and the acronym, S.P.A., stuck. As time passed, multiple, massive and luxurious public spas were built across the Roman Empire.
Modern Spa Days
And with European settlement of the New World, the “hot tub habit” soon followed. “Modeled after European spa villages, America’s hot-spring spa towns were all the rage from George Washington’s days to JFK’s,” according to Away.com. Towns with mineral-rich natural springs, like Hot Springs, Arkansas and Thermoplois, Wyoming, became wellness resorts and destination spa locations.
As the hot-spring spa town trend faded, the appeal of a luxury spa only grew. In 1925, the Jacuzzi brothers shook up the pump industry by developing a new type of pump able to suck water out of the ground more efficiently than any previous pump. Then, at the California State Fair in 1930, a Gold Medal Award for their invention propelled the technology to widespread popularity. Their technique of moving water with water paved the way for the jet pump industry today.
In the late 1950s, backyards in California were filled with makeshift wooden hot tubs. This trend grew in the 1960s and 70s, particularly in northern California, where people began to make their own wooden hot tubs. Innovations came to wooden hot tubs, like wood fired heaters, but their shortcomings ultimately led to the manufacture of fiberglass shell hot tubs. But fiberglass can leak, so it was soon replaced by non-porous cast acrylic. Modern pumps, filters, and jets also began appearing in the 1970s.
It is not a coincidence that the magical hot tub in the 2010 film Hot Tub Time Machine took its occupants back to 1986. The 1980s were a time when sales of hot tubs and spas soared. One of the leading manufacturers of hot tubs, then and now, is ThermoSpas. Founded in 1983, the company has been at the forefront of technological advancements in the hot tub industry.
The ThermoSpas Advantage
What makes a company like ThermoSpas stand out from the many other manufacturers in industry? As representative for ThermoSpas remarked, "We have redesigned many aspects of hot tub manufacturing, including shell fabrication, plumbing, cabinet making, and water filtering technology, all of which have helped shape ThermoSpas hot tubs into the best and most reliable spas within the hot tub industry."
In conjunction with the Arthritis Foundation, ThermoSpas developed the Healing Spa, the first hot tub for arthritis sufferers. With input from the Arthritis Foundation, medical professionals, and arthritis sufferers, ThermoSpas "engineers re-crafted everything starting with the mold by incorporating mobility bars, an easy entry and exit system, a raised child's therapy seat,even an easy-change filter system to accommodate the needs of people with limited mobility." As a result, the Healing Spa was the first hot tub to receive the prestigious Ease of Use' commendation.
In 2004, the company developed their patented Total Control Therapy system. This improvement focused on allowing "each person in the hot tub to have the perfect therapeutic experience" by utilizing multiple pumps and a control valve in each therapy seat. With Total Control Therapy, one person can enjoy the calming effects of light soothing bubbles while another experiences the intense jets massage their sore and aching muscles.
To keep the water crystal clear, effective hot tub filtration is essential.ThermoSpas also developed a method of filtering hot tub water called Thermo-Filtration. "Using this method," explains the company rep, "a powerful 40 gallon per minute pump cycles the water through 1½" diameter plumbing filtering 100% of the water an average of 144 times per day!"
As compelling as specialized equipment may be, economic highs and lows tend to directly impact sales within the hot tub industry. However, as Pool & Spa News reported in 2013, "Industry analyst IBISWorld estimates international hot tub revenues will grow 7 percent this year, citing renewed consumer confidence and an improving - or at least stabilizing - economy. It also anticipates 13 percent annual growth to 2018."
If you haven't already, is this the year that you will step into a hot tub? As the story goes, from ancient Egypt to Roman baths to today's over-worked multi-tasking culture, the benefits of a personal spa include better sleep, decreased stress, a place to entertain friends, and bubbly relaxation.
Unsure about the many hot-tub options available? Visit ThermoSpas' handy guide to all things hot tub.
More about Spas, thermospas, Hot tubs, Relaxation