The Wim Hof Method (WHM) is a holistic approach that aims to help people to achieve more health, strength and happiness in their lives. It incorporates mindset, breathing routines, movement, and cold water emersion. One of the most talked about benefits of the method is the ability to consciously influence the immune system and reduce the impact of illnesses. Although it's easy to presume this to be a cult, Wim and his team have been doing a number of research projects to get their claims backed by science and to prove that the WHM can make positive physical and physiological changes to the body.
I first came across the WHM in early 2014 and after I underwent spinal surgery 10 months ago I have been practising it every day as part of my recovery. I have also been introducing a number of my Personal Training clients and colleagues to it and they have in turn incorporated it into their own daily routines. When I realised there was a workshop in London with Wim himself, I didn't think twice before signing up.
Bethany, Benno and I took a road trip to London and Wim did not disappoint, the man is awesome! He is filled with self-belief, confidence and on a mission to cure the world of depression and other diseases. It's undeniable that Wim is a kooky character, some would say he's a little 'out there' but he's full of love and enthusiasm and it's very hard not to feel his infectious and endearing personality having an effect on the whole room.
The Iceman (Wim) first explained the effects of his method and what it has helped him achieve. He currently holds 26 World records including swimming 70ft beneath 4ft of ice, climbing mountains in shorts and running a marathon bare foot within the Arctic Circle. More recently he has been engaging in scientific studies which have included him being injected with a neurotoxin to see if he could stabilise his system and stop any symptoms without medication. The study was expanded to a group of his students and a control group. Wim’s students were unaffected by the bacteria while the control group suffered flu like symptoms.
I normally start my day sat on my own doing the WHM breathing routine in silence. Now picture a room full of people heavy breathing, images of the heart pulsating on the big screen, Pink Floyd playing in the background and Wim shouting and guiding us to focus only on our breathing. It was impossible not to be totally absorbed in the atmosphere. It is an experience I will not forget any time soon.
After about 20 mins of listening to Wim shouting out over the top of all us breathing we were told to take one final deep breath and hold it for as long as possible, completely relaxed and focused on a strong mindset. Wim and his team had the whole room hanging on their every word, feeling confident and ready to take on the world, and then it was time for an ice bath! We went through some of the sensations and fear people might feel going into a bath full of ice but we were assured we would all be going in. We would need to commit to it, and importantly not to underestimate it. So on a sunny afternoon in April over 400 people waited anxiously for their turn to take the plunge! It was definitely colder than my normal cold shower and some people were visibly struggling to last the allotted time, we were all trying to use the breathing techniques we had learnt to control the desire to rapidly exit the ice!
The workshop was full of lots of jokes and banter the real message here is to live without fear to the end. One of the biggest points of the WHM is you can choose how you want to live your life. There is no denying that getting into a bath full of ice will be f#$king cold, it might even hurt a little, but it's your choice on how you feel the sensations. You're not supposed to be invincible, rather you can accept and even welcome the cold pain and that's the same for the rest of the experiences in your life. So in the words of the man himself....Breathe Motherf#$kers!!
Checkout this link to a cartoon describing the how's and why of the WHM.