Wim Hof, also known as “The Iceman,” is a Dutch extreme athlete. Known for Guinness world records swimming under ice, he attributes his superhuman capabilities to the Wim Hof Method (WHM), a combination of frequent cold exposure, breathing techniques and meditation.
I had the pleasure of talking with first generation Wim Hof Method instructor, Jesse Coomer. Jesse Coomer is the lead Wim Hof instructor in the midwestern United States. He hosts in-person Wim Hof trainings and has thousands of viewers subscribed to his youtube channel. His e-book, A Practical Guide to Cold Training, comes out later this month.
We talked about physical preparation before an ice bath, recovery, mindset and everything in between. Read the takeaways from our conversation below.
Eat something light before an ice bath
“You want something in your stomach but if you eat really heavy your body is going to be focused on digesting that food and it might take longer to warm up”
If you take any daily medications, check with your doctor before taking a dip in the ice
“If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, epilepsy or are pregnant you should not practice ice bathing.”
Nobody cares what you wear in an ice bath
“The more ice baths I did, the more comfortable I became with my body. If you don’t feel comfortable in a suit, wear clothes instead.
The vibe is so fun. You kinda become a kid again and you aren’t looking at one another in that way. There’s no big gender divide like that. Instead, we’re all looking at the bath going, “are you gonna put your face in the ice?! I’m gonna put my face in the ice!’”
It’s no surprise that getting in an ice bath could be uncomfortable. Try to relax through the discomfort but at the end of the day you should always listen to your body and respond accordingly
“For your first few seconds in the cold, you will feel some new feelings and there always seems to be one area of the body that feels extra cold. For me it’s my arms, some people will feel it in their neck or shoulder blades or their ankles. If you relax, those sharp cold spots will typically relax as well.”
There is discomfort involved, but if excessive, pay attention to your body’s signals. When in doubt, JUST GET OUT.
You’re in an elite group of impressive humans for even considering an ice bath
“It’s a very extraordinary group of people who would do something like this. If you’ve gotten in an ice bath, even if you just get in the ice and get right out, you've already done way more than the average person is even willing to consider.”
PRO TIP: Mindset is important. Don’t get into the bath and think “I hate this. I’m going to just hate it and endure it anyways.” Instead, think, “I’m choosing this, I want to do this and I can get out any time.’”
Cold Training teaches you to trust yourself
“On a daily basis, whether it’s a cold shower or an ice bath, it never necessarily gets any easier. So every single day, you are making a hard decision. You get to observe yourself making a hard decision. Then, you get to know yourself as that person who can make hard decisions; a person who is the master of your own decision making process.”
For best results, take a bath with friends
“It’s kind of a lot to get an ice bath all set up, so you might as well share it with friends! Plus there’s this social courage that you get from the group. Even though getting in the bath is always optional at these events, by the time we get to the ice bath, the apprehensive people are always ready. The energy of the group just gets you there.