It’s no secret that there are huge health benefits to owning a hot tub. But unfortunately, getting your hands on the actual data to show a client can be time consuming.
Luckily, that could soon change.
The International Hot Tub Association is in the process of
coordinating with manufacturers and other organizations to create
an Internet clearinghouse of all research regarding hot water
“The goal is for the IHTA to develop a database of material
that supports the accepted theory that the massaging waters of hot
tubs provide many health benefits,” says Andy Tournas, head
of IHTA and president of ThermoSpas Inc. in Wallingford,
The effort reflects a new trend in portable spa buying. “I
have seen a greater interest this year in consumers buying hot tubs
for therapy more so than relaxation and entertainment,” he
The Website is slated to be launched this month with a preliminary
collection of research. At that time, Tournas and company will
begin actively reaching out to industry members to gather more
The database is currently comprised of studies from sources
including the Arthritis Foundation, the National Sleep Foundation
and the Mayo Clinic, which the group began collecting last spring.
Articles from medical journals, as well as industry trade
magazines, also will be incorporated. Studies from sources like
these, such as “Spas, Pools and Arthritis,” “Hot
Tub Therapy For People With Diabetes” and
“Cardiovascular Responses to Immersion in a Hot Tubs”
will be tagged and filed in a content management system.
“We would like users to be able to search, view and access
the content online regardless of the article’s format,”
says Matt Bryers, who is helping to construct the site for the
IHTA. Some articles may be categorized using more than one tag to
make searches more comprehensive. That way, any dealer confronted
with a possible buyer that voices health concerns could perform a
simple online search and provide related data
Those that conduct hot-water immersion research feel the new
database will be a boon for the market.
“When I go to shows with a lot of hot tub dealers, I ask if
they’re familiar with the money that has gone into research
about the benefits of [their product],” says Tom Lachocki,
CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation in Colorado Springs,
Colo. His group has funneled more than $1 million into related
research, but has yet to see it fully disseminated among dealers.
“Every hot tub retailer should be familiar with the real
information available that links those benefits to the values of
The database could also help create more trust between consumers
“The demographics on customers typically show a
higher-education individual,” Lachocki adds. “Instead
of a 23-year-old salesperson telling this information to a
50-year-old physician, they can provide a written account [printed
from the IHTA database] that verifies it.”
The online hub won’t be for dealer use only. Tournas hopes it
will eventually be of value to the public, too, as the nation
becomes increasingly more health conscious.
As the portable spa market improves, the IHTA’s long-term
goal for the database is to encourage state and federal governments
to provide tax incentives for the purchase of a hot tub. The group
will also pursue consumer compensation from insurance companies by
showing that warm-water therapy is less costly than alternative
treatments. Although such assistance exists in some areas on a
smaller scale, with greater manufacturer participation and
additional funding, Tournas believes that more consistent,
widespread results will be possible.