A Hot Tub or a Swim Spa

What’s Better for Me: A Hot Tub or A Swim Spa?

Hot Tubs


April 15, 2022

You’re ready to buy a home spa; a staycation opportunity in your own backyard! Hot tubs and swim spas are both great ways to add relaxation and recreation to your schedule. But which type is best for you? Though they are similar in terms of design and components, a hot tub and a swim spa are actually quite different machines. While either one is a welcome addition to your home, there are significant differences and uses for each.

What Is a Hot Tub?

A hot tub is a large tub of heated water used for relaxation, hydrotherapy and fun! The term “hot tub” refers to any tub; whether it has jets, bubblers or no extra features at all. Hot tubs are  intended for use by multiple people at once (generally 2 to 8). They’re most often placed outdoors; on patios, in backyards, on decks. Hot tubs are typically above ground and their designs can be simple or complex. Most models are made from an acrylic shell that holds the heated water and has its own plumbing and electric controls. The hot tub is great for those who are looking to relax and ease the pain of sore muscles and is great therapy for muscle strain, arthritis, stress, or other painful maladies. 

What is a swim spa?

A swim spa is a long narrow tank, similar to a swimming pool but on a smaller scale. It’s equipped with a strong jet system that creates a stream of water powerful enough for you to walk, jog or swim in place. The large rectangular area allows enough space for the leg kicking and arm movement needed for freestyle, butterfly and even breaststroke. The water resistance allows you to gradually build up your strength and endurance as well as improve your cardiovascular health. An optional rowing kit and resistance bands create some great strength training options.

What are the differences between a swim spa and a hot tub?

  • Unique features: Both are made of high-quality materials and have user-friendly controls. They’re both good for sitting and relaxing. However, the swim spa has a larger tank allowing for water-based athletic activities. The powerful jet system creates a water current strong enough to swim, walk, or jog against.
  • Size: Swim spas are much larger than the traditional hot tub; accommodating aquatic exercises and workouts. 
  • Seating: If you’re interested in entertaining friends and family, a hot tub provides the closeness and increased seating to accommodate this activity. 
  • Cost: Swim spas cost more than hot tubs, due to the large size, multi-purpose usage and powerful jet system. 
  • Maintenance: Hot tubs and swim spas require the same basic maintenance; cleaning, balancing, changing the water occasionally.

So which should you get?

There is no wrong choice! Whether you choose a hot tub or a swim spa is dependent upon a few crucial factors;

  • Budget: Small hot tubs cost less than larger ones. Swim spas can cost more than a hot tub unless you choose a hot tub with many added features (Bluetooth, special seats, many jets, lights, music, massage). 
  • Intended use: 
    • Hot tubs have a single purpose; relaxation, rest, de-stressing. They’ve been known to decrease stress, muscle soreness, blood pressure, and more. They can also improve circulation and metabolism. Choose a hot tub for the health benefits. 
    • Swim spas can be used for health and exercise benefits. They provide all the recreational and workout benefits of a pool in a more compact package. Choose a swim spa if you actually want to swim, you need space for children to play and/or you’re interested in impact-free exercise. 
  • Space available: How much space you have available in your backyard or on your patio/deck may be the deciding factor. A swim spa takes substantially more room and is heavier, requiring a deck strong enough to hold it or built to surround it.

Consider a two-in-one:  Some swim spas have a hot tub on one end and a swimming area on the other, offering the best parts of a swimming pool and a hot tub in one convenient package. You can step out of the swimming area and into the tub without having to leave your yard. You can exercise and relax. The space and energy requirements of these models are substantial. For some models, the water temperature will be the same whether you are enjoying the massage jets or working out. There are, however, dual-zone swim spas available that allow you to have two water temperatures, one in the pool and one in the massage sitting area. These models give you the benefits of a hot tub and a swim spa combined.  


Whether you decide that a hot tub, a swim spa or a dual swim spa-hot tub is right for you, make sure you deal with a reputable supplier. They’ll have comprehensive service, expert knowledge, a wealth of field experience and the best products to provide you with years of enjoyment. 


Looking for a hot tub? Interested in a swim spa? Considering a hot tub, swim spa combo?  Contact Calgary-based RnR hot tubs and spas. We carry a full line of hot tub accessories. Call (403) 203-0860 or fill out the contact request. RnR provides comprehensive service, expert knowledge, a wealth of field experience and the best products in the industry to help you maintain your hot tub/swim spa for years of enjoyment. RnR is Alberta’s premier hot tub/swim spa store specializing in the World’s First Steel Framed Spas from American Whirlpool, Vita Spas and MAAX Spas.

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