A little spa story

Beauty is only skin deep…so the saying goes. For every woman, there’s a whole array of beauty treatments including ‘spa indulgence’.

Old Spa House, Spa, Belgium

The word ‘spa’ is rooted in the Latin language and means ‘Salus per aquam’ which translates to ‘health from water’. In the past people have relied on water to balance off and restore the human body. The word spa was derived from the town of Spa which was once part of the Roman Empire (now eastern Belgium). Today the town is still well known for its baths and mineral springs.

 

Communal spa Budapest

Other historical references pins the word ‘spa’ as Hungarian in origin linked to natural springs where people come to relax and unwind.

The oldest known spa still in existence is in Merano, Italy where there is evidence of use dating back 5,000 years ago. It is thought that the Egyptians used baths for therapeutic purposes as early as 2000 B.C. Evidence of actual spa construction exists from Phraotes, King of Persia (then called Media) in 600 B.C. The earliest forms of hot tubs were simply a caldera in which sizzling stones had benn placed to heat the water.

In Greece around 500 B.C. people built thermal baths near springs or volcanoes. greek celebrities and the elite would meet at these hot springs to exchange philosophical views and treat physical ailments.

Roman Bath

During Caesar Augustus’ time recreational public baths were popular throughout Rome. In 70 A.D., Romans established a spa around the hot springs  of Bath, England. Here they created a complex series of baths as well as a temple honoring the goddess Sulis Minerva which may have given the healing waters its creditibility. In 300 A.D., bathhouses sprung up throughout the Roman Empire.

Japanese ofuro bath

The custom of bathing wes also observed in Asia. In Japan, ofuro or hot water bathing in freestanding wooden tubs was a family custom. Occupational forces brought the knowledge of this custom back home with them after World War 11.

Modern discoveries led to spa treatments like hydrotherapy and Europeans have always used spas for treatments of illnesses and the prevention of future ailments, putting special emphasis on the importance of helping visitors relax from stress.

The 40 degree warm water of a hot tub helps to stimulate the body and release endorphins; we all know that a long hot bath is always the best cure for a good night’s sleep! Skin and muscles loosen and relax from the increased circulation when in the warm water of a hot tub.