Wim Hof - 'Once you hit the icy waters, there is no way back, you’re going to be hooked'

Virgin Radio

5 May 2022, 09:38

Wim Hof

Credit: Instagram @iceman_hof

Dutch extreme athlete and motivational speaker Wim Hof joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about the benefits of cold therapy and breathing techniques, and about his current BBC One show.

Wim leads the six-part series, Freeze The Fear, with hosts Holly Willoughby and Lee Mack. The show follows eight celebrities as they take on challenges in sub-zero conditions in Italy. Wim told Chris: “You see the raw, real emotions from the depths. They come up, and they feel all the confidence to share it in front of so many cameras. 

“They show their most intimate traumas coming to the surface. It is time for real emotion, and that is this series.”

Speaking more about the show, Wim continued: “This a document, and people show their deepest trauma: inaccessible - now accessible, being able to be processed. This is a new era, where our deepest emotions are able to get to the surface.” 

Wim's book, The Wim Hof Method, is out now in paperback. In it, he shares his three-pillar approach to improving human health and performance. The three pillars are Cold, Breath and Mindset. When speaking about ice bathing and breathing techniques, Wim told Chris: “It goes past our conditioning of our mind and body. And that’s exactly where the hidden traumas are, and then they are able to be processed. And that’s it! They come to the surface, you cry, you see, you feel, you process, you feel lighter afterwards.”

He continued: “Especially after these two-and-a-half years of restrictions, we have to learn now to tap into our deeper selves and get a hold of ourselves.

“The cold does it, the breathing exercises, they bring it. They bring our innate capacity to regulate our emotions, our mood, and bring down inflammation. It’s all there.”

Wim, who has claimed 26 world records from the furthest swim under ice (188.6 feet) to the longest time in full-body contact with ice (2 hrs, 8 mins 47 secs), told Chris: “We’ve found the keys to open up to the deeper parts of our brain, by which we have much better control over the rest of the body as one.”

Speaking more about his book, he said: “You cannot buy health, happiness and strength, but you can unlock it. After 46 years of experience and doing the fieldwork, doing the science, there is no speculation about it. We all have a greater potential waiting for us, and this book - sorry that it is my book! - but it is showing us!

“This brings health, happiness and strength, and that’s what we do.”

This month, Wim took a 63-minute long ice bath to celebrate his 63rd birthday. When Chris asked how people who don’t have easy access to ice baths or a cold plunge can experience cold therapy, he excitedly replied: “A cold shower a day keeps the doctor away! Yes! It really does! Even the doctors are doing it!”

When talking about gradual cold exposure, he said: “We have been protecting our vascular system from environmental stress, like cold and heat… Our vascular system is not as such that it can go into deep cold plunges. We have to train it gradually, but in 10 days it will be awakened by taking a cold shower a day, like 15 seconds, then 30, 45, one minute and then gradually, in 10 days, you will be ready to go into icy water. And once you hit the icy waters, there is no way back, you’re going to be hooked!”

Chris asked Wim if he ever experiences stress, to which the extreme athlete responded: “I’ve got this control over the adrenal axis. I’m finding out, ‘Why don’t I experience stress like all these people? They are walking like that, with anxiety, all these thoughts, ongoing.’ No! There is no time. I just want to live, every day, greatly, and feel the power deeply within.” 

He enthused: “I’m bloody strong and I love life!” 

The Wim Hof Method is out now. Freeze The Fear continues on Tuesday 10th May on BBC One and iPlayer.

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.