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Body and Soul: Hot Tub Trends

(ARA) - There's no time like the present for a soothing soak in a hot tub. Really, who isn't stressed these days?

But a hot tub is more than just a place to relax and unwind. There's a noticeable trend in hot tubs toward integrating sensation, sight and sound to achieve a total sensory experience that is extraordinarily easy to enjoy.

Smart innovations -- massaging jets that target tired muscles, the surround sound of your favorite tunes, changeable lighting and hands-off water-care techniques -- make hot tubs hotter than ever.

Bob Hallam, owner of Dimension One Spas, Inc., says there is a movement toward a more sophisticated product. Adjustable colors, new chemical systems, lights and waterfalls all "allow the hot tub to not be put into a corner of the backyard," he says. "Hot tubs are becoming more of a focal point in the yard."

Catch the Feeling

According to a survey by the National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI), an international trade association of more than 5,300 manufacturers, distributors, retailers, service companies and builders in the pool and spa industry, there are 6 million hot tub owners in the United States alone. Another survey, this one in "Arthritis Today," found that 49 percent of these owners use their hot tubs four to six times each week.

What they know (and enjoy) is this: Hot tubs provide a perfect, private venue for relaxing and renewing your spirit. The combination of warm water and massaging jets provides hydrotherapy to soothe body and soul. And you can even exercise if you want.

Hot tub manufacturers and designers are constantly coming up with new and attractive ways to get the water moving. They do this with powerful -- but not punishing -- jets that target specific muscles from back to neck to calves and even wrists. Directional and rotary nozzles create a variety of sensations, allowing you to customize your soak. There are foot wells to ease aching feet and clusters of jets to relax lower backs; and these are housed in sleek, smooth, comfortable units with seating to accommodate various body types.

Master Spas takes in-water therapy a step further with a patented Master Force Bio-Magnetic Therapy System. Powerful magnets strategically placed in the hot tub's molded seats apply magnetic therapy to pressure points on the neck and back. This technology grew from practical application. Master Spas' president Bob Lauter was having problems with a shoulder. His massage therapist recommended magnetic therapy. "It worked for me," he says. When his daughter, who plays college soccer, hurt her knee, the surgeons placed her leg in a knee brace outfitted with magnets to promote healing. That was good enough for Lauter who then set about incorporating the therapy into his company's hot tubs.

Most of the people buying spas today are aging baby boomers, he points out. "They want relaxation, but they also want the ability to have therapy, too."

Surround Sound

The very sound of water is calming. Some hot tubs are equipped with a "tranquility" mode for the hushed and gentle sound of moving water. Others have waterfalls built right in, and the relaxing sound of water isn't all you get to enjoy.

The serious audiophile can find hot tubs that come with amplifiers embedded inside the tub's casing. The SpAudio System offered by Hot Springs Portable Spas lets you feel the music. This accessory sends sound waves through the spa shell, essentially transforming the spa surface into a giant high-fidelity stereo speaker. There's sound enough to overpower even the strongest jets without disturbing the neighbors.

The amplifier's components are coated to protect them from damage by water, heat and the elements. A close-at-hand dial on the edge of the tub controls volume and equalizer settings. Playing music is easy. Just place the CD/FM/AM player into a weather-resistant carrier, take it to your hot tub and plug it into the receptacle on the spa cabinet.

Some hot tubs also come with pop-up, flat-screen, digital televisions as entertaining choices.

Illuminating Ideas

Today's hot tubs have water features that look as good as they sound because many incorporate lights. They can, in effect, transform your spa into functional art.

There are illuminated water arcs as well as gently flowing backlit falls. These water features look magical at night, and they create a nice white noise, Hallam says.

There are practical lights such as automatic daylight-sensing (photocell-controlled) step lights that come on when needed. Other spas have lights that can be positioned on the steps or around the top edges of the spa, depending upon what you want to illuminate.

Still other hot tubs can change colors. Color-changing bulbs or colorwheels paired with fiber-optic lighting make it possible and easy to do.

Easy to Love

Convenience starts with construction. Today's hot tubs are made of tough, impact-resistant materials designed to weather the elements and look good doing it. Manmade cabinets, with furniture details, cut down on maintenance. There is a trend toward natural-looking finishes including some that mimic granite from around the world. Colorfast materials won't fade or dull in sunlight, and chemical- and stain- resistance keeps common household stains (lipstick, ink, crayons) from permanence.

Automatic heating and cleaning cycles eliminate any worries about programming your hot tub. You decide what water temperature you like, then set it and forget it. Master Spas has a digital panel to display functions with scrolling text -- reminding you of when to do the most basic of spa care such as checking water chemistry and cleaning filters.

And easily retractable covers that are UL classified in accordance with ASTM safety standards do double duty. They feature child-resistant safety locks and in addition to the safety factor, these covers help hold heat and water in and keep dirt out. Cover-removal systems, such as those made by Sunstar Spa Covers, Inc., work like a "garage-door opener." When removal is easy, it's easier to enjoy your spa.

The very idea of a hot tub can be soothingly attractive; these trends toward a spa-focused living space just offer more to love.

For more information on what's hot with hot tubs, visit www.hottubliving.com, www.poolandspaliving.com, www.nspi.org, or contact NSPI at (800) 323-3996.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Authors Website: http://www.aracontent.com/

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