‘Ice Man’ Wim Hof explains how to train your body for cold water with a shower

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Dutchman Wim Hof, A.K.A the Ice Man, says cold water therapy help humans to realise the ‘immense power of the mind’ (Picture: Wim Hof)

With Covid-19 leading to the closure of swimming pools across the land, thousands have become fans of cold water swimming during the pandemic and the Wim Hof Method has become somewhat of a buzzword.

The technique, developed by the infectiously enthusiastic Dutchman Wim Hof A.K.A the Ice Man is about increasing resilience to cold temperatures through meditation and breathwork in a bid to realise the ‘immense power of the mind’.

The website lists an impressive spread of benefits around becoming a ‘Hoffer’, which take some scrolling through, including an improved immune system, better sleep, relief from migraines and increased happiness – what’s not to like? Well, the shock of the cold doesn’t feel too therapeutic to start with. For that reason, ‘commitment’ is outlined as one of the method’s cornerstones.

Wim’s fascination with sub-zero temperatures started when he was 17 years old.

He was strolling through a park in Amsterdam and suddenly felt an urge to jump into one of the lakes.

After that initial plunge, he was hooked on the ‘high’ the cold gave him and he went about developing a unique breathing technique that would allow him to stay in longer.

For many years it was more of a personal hobby, but when his wife died in 1995 of suicide following a battle with schizophrenia, Wim decided to share the transformative and healing powers of the cold and let his philosophy shine.

Today, the 61-year-old, who describes himself as ‘inquisitive, heart-felt, and driven’, has defied science by withstanding inhospitable temperatures for record periods.

His zany feats include sitting immersed in a tub of ice for one hour 53 minutes and two seconds, climbing Mount Everest to 7,200 metres (23,600 ft) in just a pair of shorts and wearing the same skimpy ensemble to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro (5,895 metres).

Other the years he has published several books and his latest how-to guide, released last year, was an instant New York Times bestseller.

His celebrity fans include Russell Brand, who describes the manual ‘like learning yoga from Thor’, while Ben Fogle simply deems it ‘life-changing’.

The 61-year-old describes himself as ‘inquisitive, heart-felt, and driven’ (Picture: Wim Hof)

So, where does one start with the Wim Hof Method?

Talking from his base in the Netherlands, Wim tells Metro.co.uk that cold showers are great.

He says: ‘It’s as simple as showering yourself with cold water. They really do work wonders. Start with 30 seconds and build your ability to withstand the chill from there.

‘You will soon see how addictive it is as it boosts your energy and triggers hormones that make you feel good.

‘There’s then a free app and tutorials on YouTube to learn more about the breathing method. The great thing about the Wim Hof Method is that even the first steps are accessible, effective and powerful.’

During the pandemic, Wim and his team – which include some of his six children – have witnessed an increase in clients suffering from depression and anxiety.

While the outfall of Covid-19 has been a contributing factor towards poor mental health, Wim says society’s disconnection with nature has been the main driver of this ‘parallel pandemic’.

‘An important part of my philosophy is about the human reconnecting with nature, looking within and around themselves,’ he muses.

Wim is known for wearing shorts while in the cold and he says that he loves pairs he can do the splits in (Picture: Sadie Whitelocks)

‘Society has lost touch with mind, body and nature. We, in the 21st century, ignore and override our inner feelings, people are becoming numb. It sounds terrible but the reality is much worse, we do not sense our intuition anymore, we forget.’

On a jollier note, Wim touches on his iconic shorts, which have become somewhat of a fashion statement among his followers.

When quizzed on his favourite pair, he replies with a smile: ‘I love any shorts that I can do splits in and I absolutely love bright colours! The more flamboyant, the better.’

During the pandemic, Wim’s shorts have seen less globetrotting action but he’s been enjoying the scenery closer to home.

In February, when temperatures in the Netherlands plummeted to minus 15 degrees Celsius, he was one of the first people to hop out.

Recalling the icy spell, he says: ‘I loved the cold weather in the Netherlands this year.

‘At every chance I could get, I was outdoors swimming in the lakes of Amsterdam or otherwise training in our centre.

‘We also hosted our first online retreat with 3,000 people – it was a great experience. It was inspiring to have so many people around the world all participating at the same time.’

The Wim Hof Academy hosts various courses around the world and it is headquartered in Stroe – a peaceful village about an hour from Amsterdam.

The outdoorsman only has one meal a day, after 6 pm, and he has been a staunch vegetarian for some 30 years (Picture: Wim Hof)

Weekend courses at HQ, which cost €950 for two days with Wim, have already sold out for June but there are still places open for two, week-long trips in Spain this July.

Other workshops are set to take place in Poland, Mexico and France although experienced instructors will be on hand instead of Wim. Many of the courses incorporate meditation, yoga and breathing classes, with the ice bath being at the centre of things.

Students are advised to ‘eat light, if at all’ before the workshops, and this is another point that aligns with Wim’s mantra.

The outdoorsman only has one meal a day, after 6 pm, and he has been a staunch vegetarian for some 30 years. His favourite meal is macaroni and he’s also partial to vegetable soup.

Reflecting on some of his escapades, the coldest Wim ever felt was while he was scaling an icy mountain in Poland. He nicknamed the cutting wind chill he experienced ‘the whip’.

Meanwhile, his favourite cold location on the map has to be the otherworldly climbs of Iceland for its ‘spectacular scenery’.

But before heading off to rustle up a post-6pm meal, the cold water aficionado concludes: ‘There are places on the map which are amazing, but it’s the impact of cold water which is the most rewarding.

‘You don’t have to travel far to experience this and the feeling is universal. It’s in your backyard, so to speak. It really doesn’t take much to take control of our bodies and minds. My method proves just that. Start with 30 seconds in the shower and go from there.’

For more information on Wim Hof and the Wim Hof Method visit http://www.wimhofmethod.com

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.


MORE : Cold weather camping could be the perfect way to find peace and solitude this April


MORE : Meet the ‘winter mermaids’ who have been cold water swimming during lockdown





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