You’re not the only one that enjoys a nice long soak in hot water. Researchers have found that thousands of years ago, a group of six humans left their hand and footprints in the soft clay surrounding a bubbling hot spring of the Tibetan Plateau. Even our great ancestors sought out the benefits of hydrotherapy in the earliest hot tubs. Throughout history, evidence marks the use of hot tubs for its healing benefits.
Located in natural springs, Ancient Greeks had carved thermal complexes in stone. They believed these springs held natural healing powers and even utilized it as a location for offerings made to the gods. These springs were often elaborately decorated, many of which were found with beautiful mosaics.
This tradition of bathing was taken on by the Ancient Romans, and they loved their baths. Daily baths were common practice of all social classes of Romans. They bathed not only for hygienic purposes. It was also believed to cure disease and relieve pain. By the 4th century there were over 1,000 baths in Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire and towards the Medieval period, many public baths were transformed into other spaces, but the tradition of soaking in hot water stayed with the Japanese.
The birth of the modern hot tub is often credited to Japan. Japan is home to many volcanic islands in which natural springs were often used for centuries. “Onsen,” translating literally to “hot spring,” are natural springs rich with minerals that are believed to have healing properties. Onsen tradition and popularity mark it as a bucket list item on many travelers to do lists. Kustatsu, Gunma is one of the most popular Onsen towns.
Sento are public baths tracing back to the Heian period of 794-1185. Their popularity was gained around WWII because many homes lacked their own bathing facilities. The Sento differs from the Onsen due to the fact that they do not use natural spring water.
The closest ancestor to our modern hot tub is the Japanese Furo. These wooden tubs are made for the ritual of bathing. Not to be confused with regular washing, the Furo is used primarily for relaxation. You could say the modern Furo is a hot tub. Many are made from acrylic and are heated with either gas or propane, or an electric heater and pump.
The first American wooden hot tubs popped up around the 1940’s, but it was soon discovered that wood and water did not mix very well. Early hot tubs were victim to bacteria, mold and eventual leaks. Jacuzzi, revolutionized the hot tub industry after a family member had developed rheumatoid arthritis. In an effort to relieve their pain, they invented the first portable hydrotherapy pump. They soon added the jets embedded directly within the walls of the tub.
In 1969 Modern Fiberglass, the original name of Maax Spas, enters the manufacturing scene beginning with snowmobile shrouds and swimming pools. More durable than its predecessor, fiberglass expanded more possibilities in the innovation of hot tubs. The name Maax was coined in 1987 and by 1997 they enter the world of spa manufacturing by acquiring 15 year old Coleman Spas and 21 year old California Cooperage spas.
Maax Spas was the first to introduce appliance grade hot tubs made with galvanized steel frames. Appliance grade construction allowed hot tubs to be fully serviceable. In fact, Tubs can be brought back to factory specifications within your own back yard, just like many of your other home appliances.
By 2015 Maax had become the 3rd largest manufacturer of hot tubs in the world after previously acquiring brands like Vita Spa and LA Spas. In 2016 a breakthrough innovation was added to their tubs in the patented Northern Exposure Insulation. This three-layer configuration consists of a Copper IR Reflector, BlueMAAX, and 3M Thinsulate that recycles the free heat energy emanating back into the spa for the most efficient heating. In 2017, Maax merges with American Bath Group creating the largest compilations of baths and spas in North America. American Whirlpool spas are launched in 2018 creating the world’s first physician designed jets for ultimate hydrotherapy.
Today both Vita Spa and American Whirlpool bring joy to every home they land in with the peace of mind that they are both durable and serviceable. Though the technology of hot tubs has changed through the years, the simple fact that we love a long soak in hot water hasn’t. To further explore scientifically proven benefits of steeping in a hot tub, visit Benefits of Hot Tub Hydrotherapy.