Maybe You’re Not Sad Enough for Wim Hof

Nina Jervis
4 min readMay 18, 2022
Photo by Tobias Oetiker on Unsplash

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everybody who’s anybody starts their day by plunging themselves into a body of freezing cold water.

“Any other challenge today is going to be less intense than sitting in this thing for 90 seconds,” said BrewDog’s founder James Watt, about his morning ice-bath habit. Given his recent challenges (staff mutiny, a tarnished brand, damaged personal reputation etc., etc.), that’s some claim.

And for those times when a bog-standard bath or a dip in the nearest river just won’t cut it, a cool (pun intended) $1,199.97 will buy you your very own Ice Barrel, which comes in black or grey: whichever colour more closely matches your soul.

Just don’t let anyone take a picture of you with your head sticking out of the top of your chosen barrel, surrounded by pristine ice cubes. Even the models don’t manage not to look ridiculous: one particular image made me smile so much that it’s now my screensaver.

If you want to go even further than purchasing an Ice Barrel, you can learn to harness “the power of the breath and cold” from The Iceman himself, Wim Hof.

Wim Hof is genuinely incredible. In the unlikely event you haven’t heard of him, he’s a Dutch extreme athlete who’s broken record after record for achieving icy things, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro wearing a pair of shorts, and running a half-marathon above the Arctic Circle with no shoes or socks on. His entire CV flies in the face of your Nan’s advice to wrap up warm, or you’ll catch your death.

Celebrities and high-achievers are attracted to extreme regimes and their eccentric founders, hence the popularity of the Wim Hof Method the world over. The Hof’s even been on TV recently, teaching his Method to a Welsh weather presenter, and the actor who used to play Mel Owen in EastEnders.

That’s not to say there aren’t genuine health benefits to taking dips in cold water. These aren’t new: Hippocrates raved about them all the way back in 370 BC, with no fancy Ice Barrels or complicated Methods in sight. (Perhaps the benefits aren’t quite as amazing as Wim Hof claims, though, since a study published in the National Library of Medicine calls his effusive scientific vocabulary “galimatias” — a word I had to look up. To save you the…

Nina Jervis

Writer and professional empathiser (not necessarily in that order).