Wim “The Iceman” Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete who holds 26 world records, including taking the world’s longest ice bath, where he submerged himself in ice for a bone-chilling two hours. He has climbed both Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro wearing nothing but shorts and shoes. His motto is simple, if a little crude: “Breathe, motherfucker.”
His “Wim Hof Method” is a health regimen that combines Tibetan breathing methods with ice immersion. The method promises to burn brown fat, reduce inflammation, improve your sleep, and increase your energy. Hof also claims that his breathing method can lessen symptoms of ailments such as PTSD, bipolar disorder, arthritis, and clinical depression.
The method is based on “Three Pillars”: exposure to cold, disciplined breathing, and commitment to the first two pillars as practiced through meditation and visualization exercises. Scientists who’ve studied the Wim Hof Method have found that it increases adrenaline levels while lowering cortisol. They’ve also found that it strengthens the body’s immune response to infection.
Although this may sound like New Age quack science to some, thousands of people swear by the Wim Hof Method. Here are the testimonials of ten of them.
1. It is the most profound physical training I have ever experienced.
“My libido went up…I already have three kids and don’t really need the libido. But, that is highly worth noting to everyone. If you like sex, it gets better. That might be enough motivation for anyone to start the program.…I feel stronger from within. I feel like I’ve learned how to train the tiny muscles surrounding my capillaries. I know that sounds strange. You’ll have to feel it to understand it, I think….The Wim Hof Method is legit. It is the most profound physical training I have ever experienced. I only wish I had begun when I was younger. Better late than never, I guess.”
2. For the first time I could sleep uninterrupted the whole night.
“I was very skeptical that this method of breathing will improve my performance in all physical activities. After all, it is only breathing and double blinded studies are not necessary since the worst that can happen will be that I will continue doing what I have done at the same level….As I practiced, my yoga practice as well as my crossfit practice improved. My arm strength got better, my ability to lift weight and lift my own body weight improved. Encouraged, I started using the breath technique for sleep and found that for the first time I could sleep uninterrupted the whole night.”
3. I feel calmer, at ease, more energetic and mindful.
“After doing the Wim Hof breathing for a few days I noticed that I feel calmer, at ease, more energetic and mindful. Now when I woke up in the morning my lower back is no longer stiff….In my yoga practice I feel my posture has improved and many of the poses that I found to be difficult are less so….I recommend that everyone give the Wim Hof method a try, it’s just breathing, doesn’t take much time and air is free!”
4. This huge shot of adrenaline resets your body’s chemistry and you feel amazing.
“After a few rounds of breathing I burst out crying and couldn’t stop, like really couldn’t stop. After doing this breathing every day for a few weeks the results stayed the same—I just cried. I was having some sort of emotional release and I continued breathing every day until it was all out….After each day of breathing, I felt so much lighter like a huge weight was off my shoulders. I started noticing changes in my day to day life, subtle but powerful changes….I’m now bathing in this deep deep peace. I’m happy for no reason….Wim believes with every cell in his body that these techniques can cure and prevent almost all disease and I’m starting to believe him. My depression was fixed within 3 days and my anxiety has disappeared….This huge shot of adrenaline resets your body’s chemistry and you feel amazing.”
5. You laugh more. You see beauty around you. You sleep better. You get more done.
“My flexibility became ridiculously good….I can now do stuff I could never do before. I can almost do the splits. I can touch my toes with ease. This is huge for someone who suffered from sciatica in the past….Right now I’m happy more than not (pretty much all the time)….It’s easy to overlook this benefit when you’re just reading about it. But ask yourself, how many days in a row were you truly happy all day long last week?…How many times have you caught yourself singing or dancing randomly for no reason during the day?…How many times has something bad happened and you’ve been able to return to a happy, stable state within minutes?…You know how you know you’ve gotten happier?…The people around you are happier. They smile, laugh, and talk to you more….You laugh more. You see beauty around you. You sleep better. You get more done. You don’t binge-eat. You feel grateful. You appreciate the small things. Your muscles feel relaxed.”
6. Never before have I felt so intensely present!
“At the start of the program, I could do 25 push-ups while breathing regularly. By the end of the 10 weeks, I could do 50 push-ups while holding my breath with NO air in my lungs!…I found I was able to remain totally calm, focused, and present. Over the course of the program, I completely rewired the way I think about the cold to the point where I view it as purely a very concentrated source of energy that makes me feel totally alive….From the first day, I noticed I had much more energy than usual….As I immersed my core, I fell fully into the moment, focusing entirely on my breath, my body, and the water. Never before have I felt so intensely present!”
7. I feel as though my biological clock has now been reset.
“I have spent my entire life avoiding the cold. I moved to San Diego for 9 years to escape from it, after living in Washington state my whole life. I have been fortunate enough to discover Wim Hof Method in the recent weeks now that I have been back in the Pacific Northwest. Why? Because it is pretty cold up here this time of year…I have been employing Wim Hof Method for the last 4 weeks. The results have been astounding. How so? I feel as though my biological clock has now been reset after skipping rest and recovery for the last 9 years of my life. Years of work and pushing personal boundaries has taken a neurophysiological toll on my body. As of now, I have gained control of my physiology through this system and I cannot recommend it enough.”
8. It has been incredible!
“Never have I experienced the realm of the autonomic nervous system in this way and it has been incredible! Wim has genuine intentions and provides surprising results for such a simple and short course. Among increased flexibility, better breathing, and cold endurance; this method has given me the assurability to be able to enter seemingly impossible situations and be alright! It has helped me ‘get into the cold’ of other situations in life.”
9. I really did feel like I was plugging myself in for an energy boost.
“When I meditate, I go into a much deeper state of meditation when I do the Wim Hof power breathing exercises before hand. I’ve experimented with quite a few meditations in the past, and I can say that this method allows you to go deep inside yourself and experience what meditation is about in a meaningful way without leaving you feeling confused….The mix of cold therapy, specialized breathing techniques, meditations and physical exercises left me feeling really recharged after each session. Not to get all cliched on you — but I really did feel like I was plugging myself in for an energy boost. It also makes you happy — bold claim I know, but I mean it….I don’t believe in craving blissful states when you meditate, but what I will say is that, when I meditate after practicing the Wim Hof physical exercises and breathing techniques, I feel happier and more in control.”
10. Insane doesn’t even begin to cover it.
“On the first day of Wim Hof Breathing, I doubled how long I could comfortably hold my breath: 62 secs.
Second day: I tripled it: 94 seconds.
Third day: I quadrupled it: 120 seconds.
Second week: I could hold my breath comfortably for five times longer than when I started: 154 seconds.
I also managed 60 push-ups without any air in my lungs. That’s double what I could do while breathing!
By the third week, that turned into 70 push-ups.
By the fifth week, I could do 90 perfect form push-ups in a row with no air in my lungs.
Insane doesn’t even begin to cover it…”