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home>>family>>home & decor 2>>paradise in your own backyard

Find Paradise in Your Own Backyard


(ARA) Wouldn't it be great if the next time you needed to just relax and unwind, you could jump into your backyard hot tub and soak your troubles away? More and more people are doing just that these days.

According to a survey by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP), an international trade association of more than 5,300 manufacturers, distributors, retailers, service companies and builders in the pool and spa industry, there are six million hot tub owners in the United States alone. Industry experts suspect one of the many reasons hot tubs are so popular is they provide a perfect, private venue for relaxing and renewing the spirit.

Hot tubs used to just pump out warm water through massaging jets to soothe and massage tired muscles. These days, they are more sophisticated than ever, integrating sensation, sight and sound to achieve a total sensory experience that is extraordinarily easy to enjoy.

"Today's hot tubs have built-in surround sound systems that belt out your favorite tunes; adjustable colors; new chemical systems; lights and waterfalls that allow the hot tub to become a focal point in the yard," says Bob Hallam, owner of Dimension One Spas, Inc. He also points out that hot tub manufacturers and designers are constantly coming up with new and attractive ways to get the water moving.

Today's hot tubs have powerful -- but not punishing -- jets that target specific muscles from back to neck to calves and even wrists. There are directional and rotary nozzles which 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.

A company called 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.

Illuminating Ideas

In addition to the music and pulsing water, today's hot tubs add illuminated light to the sensory experience. 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 also 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.

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.theapsp.org, or contact APSP at (800) 323-3996.

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