Cold water fanatic Wim Hof celebrates his 63rd birthday today by spending 63 minutes in ice water.
“I put it on Instagram to show that the older you get, the stronger you get,” said the extreme athlete and motivational speaker The Observer earlier this month.
Hofs 2.5 million Instagrams Followers and other fans can also see the so-called Iceman in action in the new BBC One series Freeze the fear. Hosted by Holly Willoughby and Lee Mack, the reality show follows eight celebrities who join the Dutchman to take on a series of frosty challenges.
Not everyone is impressed by their antics, with that i news The website’s Ed Power describes the show as more of a “belly flop” than an “invigorating bath.” Hof, however, told The Observer that “I don’t care about being a star but I’m heartily delighted to have the BBC supporting it”.
“It’s the best showcase if you’re a man on a mission, which I am,” he added.
The Wim Hof method
Hof’s obsession with freezing temperatures began at the age of 17. “I was quite a thinker, a philosopher, but one day I was drawn to the freezing cold water,” he told The Observer. “I jumped into a canal in Amsterdam and thought, ‘This is it!’ That deep connection I felt that day was the starting point.”
He returned the next day, and the next, until cold snaps became part of his daily life. And he also developed a unique breathing technique. The Wim Hof method is based on the Tibetan Buddhist practice of tummo meditation, “but has none of its spiritual trappings,” he said Rolling Stone.
Wim Hof’s website says the method is “a way to keep your body and mind in their optimal natural state.” It sounds “kind of crazy,” but scientific research backed up his theory, Rolling Stone said.
A 2011 study by Nijmegen Medical Center at Radboud University concluded that Hof really could “influence his nervous system and immune response through concentration and meditation.” Although these results have only been shown to be “obtained in only one person,” the researchers said, the results are “remarkable.”
A Study 2014 observed the same reaction in a small group of people following Hof’s methods.
The “Sub-Zero-Superman” was “not an anomaly of nature”, it said The Telegraph. Hof has a more “sedentary” twin brother, but while the pair have identical genetics, the Iceman credits “a combination of frequent exposure to cold, focused breathing techniques, and meditation” for his own physical accomplishments.
The person behind the method
Hof has shared how his love of cold water “brought him back to life” after the suicide of his first wife Olaya in 1995.
“The children made me survive,” he said The sun, but the cold “cured” me. Soaking in cold water “gave my broken heart a chance to rest, recover and rehabilitate.”
Olaya’s death also prompted Hof to popularize his method. him once told an interviewer that he realized “that I can calm people down” and that “my method could put them back in control”.
Hof has made a determined effort to enlist the help of celebrities to “sing the praises of his eponymous breathing technique around the world,” Rolling Stone said. According to The Sun, he’s been “a firm favorite in the celebrity set for years”.
Hof told The Observer that he was “most welcome” in the homes of A-listers like David Beckham and Oprah Winfrey. As noted by i news site Power, he also appeared in Gwyneth Paltrow’s “much ridiculed” Netflix series The Goop Lab in 2020.
The extreme athlete also has a long list of Guinness World Records. His website lists 21, including running a half marathon barefoot in the Arctic Circle, swimming 66 meters under ice, and hanging from a finger at 2,000 meters.
Hof’s “particularly saucy workouts” have garnered a worldwide following and gave him “something of a messianic aura,” he said The Telegraph.
Still, he told The Observer that swimming under ice “is bloody scary.”
“It’s a different world. The cold takes control of your body, so you have to overcome your claustrophobia too.” But, he added, “we have a lot of fun too”.
His love of the cold is shared by his family. Hof has six children and told the newspaper he is working on having another one.
“A super-cold shower is obviously the start of the day in the Hof household,” he said Daily Mail.
“It was his eldest son Enahme who encouraged Wim to turn his hobby into a business,” the newspaper reported. And “a daughter has been trained in his methods as well as his second wife, the mother of his youngest child, a four-year-old son”.
According to Hof, his youngest has been walking barefoot with him “on the ice” since he was one year old.
And having recently welcomed his first grandchild, a boy named Kai, the family tradition looks set to continue for generations to come.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/people/956472/who-is-wim-hof Wim Hof: the “Iceman” who promotes cold and conscious breathing