“Breathe M***** F*****S!”
– Wim Hof
I hate the cold. But I love winter holidays.
This seeming paradox is easily explained by the fact that on any ski holiday I’ve been on, I’ve been wrapped up in a snow suit most of the time. If you’re really lucky, you also get to sit in thermal pools or saunas, and experience all of that beautiful scenery without any discomfort (skiing, snowboarding and apres ski hangovers aside).
So in December 2018, when after a hard treadmill session at the gym I had to have a cold shower due to a broken boiler – I was fuming. I literally swore through gritted teeth for the entire duration and I didn’t even feel clean at the end.
But whilst I was horrified at the effect of the experience on my manhood, once I got out, I felt amazing. I was glowing. So alert, so energised. So I went away and googled if there were any benefits to cold showers – other than the mythical damping of the teenage libido.
Enter Ice Man
My web search inevitably led me to Wim Hof, also know and The Ice Man, the crazy Dutch record-breaker and local celebrity. The archetypal new-age, health guru image would have repelled me were it not for his stunts and the mounting scientific evidence for his method. I needed to learn more, so over the next year or so I watched various YouTube interviews with Wim and read the following two books:
- The Way of the Ice Man by Wim Hof and Koen De Jong
- What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney (I’ve also just started The Wedge…review pending)
Both of these books give an insight into Wim’s tragic backstory, what’s driving him and the science behind his method – they are well worth a read! They’ll tell you what you need to know about the three pillars of the method: breathing, commitment and cold exposure. If you have any health ailments, you should look into Wim and his method – you’re probably covered! It really does seem to be a cure-all.
The Wim Hof Method Benefits
- Stress reduction – I’m not stressed right now, but once this lockdown is over and I have to go back out into the real world, this could definitely come in handy.
- Faster recovery from physical exertion – marathon running, triathlons, hangovers…it’s supposedly meant to make you heal like Wolverine! Count me in.
- Better sleep – as a lifelong insomniac (maintenance, sometimes onset), this would probably be a better option than the two-glasses-of-red-wine method? Long-term I mean.
- Improved sports performance – back to marathons and triathlons again. Could this give me that edge I need to break the three hour barrier? As an aside, the London Marathon should have been going ahead today – I feel terrible for those runners. I ran London last year (3 hr 24 mins), raising over £2000 for charity and it was an unforgettable experience. I hope they all get to experience something similar soon or run it next year!
- Enhanced creativity – an obvious requirement for any blogger or novelist. But I’m sure creativity and resourcefulness go hand in hand, so even in everyday life, parenting, etc.
- More focus and mental clarity – a potential cure for my procrastination?
Just like with Chi Running, I didn’t feel completely confident following the method from a book so I purchased the Wim Hof Method app, which I would recommend for the Breathing Bubble alone! Such a great tool!
Even if all of the benefits above aren’t forthcoming, I will probably continue with the breathing and the showers regardless – they just make me feel great. The breathing gets you naturally high, and the cold shower gets you wired – in a good way. So no more need for weed, beer or coffee? Number three will take me some convincing!
The Fundamentals Course
So I took the bait – hook, line and sinker – and purchased the Wim Hof Method Fundamentals Course. To be fair, I have saved money on petrol over the last month and Wim has reduced the price by 50% during the pandemic in an effort to make it affordable to the masses – so I don’t feel swindled!
I started Week One of the course this morning, and apart from the stretching – which was agony, and I sucked at – it was easy-going compared to what I have been doing already with the app. I acknowledge the stretching is important to open up the airways, and I should do some anyway, but running has made me so tight!
The breathing was just three rounds, each with a one minute breath hold, which was easy as I have already been holding my breath for up to four minutes by my fourth round, just by using the app.
The homework, was to take a thirty second cold shower, at least five days a week. Again, I’m already up to ninety seconds, most days. But I don’t want to rush through this programme in case I miss something. The slower rate of progress elsewhere will give me more time to work on my flexibility.
So each morning, I will be waking up at 04:30 and doing the yoga stretches – the hardest part for me – before I start the breathing exercises. The cold shower will be after my cardio.
I’ll keep track of any changes I experience throughout the course, and write a proper review at the end, but for now I would say GET THE APP! It is well worth a try, and the science is there – it’s not all WOO-WOO! You don’t have to use it to run marathons or climb mountains bare-chested. It might just make your day to day less painful, more enjoyable and more productive.
Once again, thanks for reading this – please do subscribe, share, like and comment if you can. This is blog post 6 out of 10, and it is definitely getting easier to sit down at the laptop and tap out some words!
Have a great Sunday! Which for me means FAMILY TIME!!!