Wim Hof: The Iceman
The Dutch Extreme Athlete and Scientific Health Leader
Photo Courtesy of DJANDYW.COM
By Cam Cirillo • Published on 12/29/20 • 3 min read
If you thought Go Where Others Don’t Go only involved discovering new tropical islands or pursuing new and aesthetic experiences, think again. The story of Wim Hof takes you on a journey that you would otherwise consider insane. Grab your winter coat and enjoy the ride.
Father of six, groundbreaking athlete, and lord of the elements, Wim “The Iceman” Hof is a man on a mission. Known best for his remarkable achievements in extreme environments, Hof’s discovery of certain physical and mental benefits deriving from proper breathing techniques while submerged in cold water or exposed to frigid temperatures make him one of the more unique scientific pioneers of the 21st century.
Since childhood, Hof has had a love affair with cold weather. He is unashamed in stating that he has always gravitated towards the feeling it provides, as if he were cast under some sort of spell. As an adult, Hof combined his love of cold with his athletic ability and began participating in events located in extreme environments. He completed a half marathon above the arctic circle wearing only shorts, swam underneath ice for 66 meters, hung from one finger at an altitude of 2,000 meters, and climbed both Mount Everest and Mount Kilaminjaro wearing only shorts and shoes. These remarkable achievements are a direct result of Hof’s willingness to go into unchartered territory in order to conduct vital research for the purpose of advancing the well being of the human body and mind.
“We must tap back into this primal mental state if we seek to achieve a more balanced and peaceful livelihood”
- Wim Hof
Hof’s most impactful scientific discovery centers around breathing. He has theorized that the conscious action of controlling certain breathing patterns contributes to stress reduction and potentially limits health issues related to the body’s immune system. His famous breathing technique, better known as the Wim Hof Method, serves as a step by step guide for using breathing in order to improve overall health and wellness. While there are numerous variations of the Wim Hof Method, each variation includes three main pillars: controlled breathing, breath retention, and recovery breath. Hof believes that these pillars of concentrated breathing will generate more oxygen into the bloodstream and move blood levels from an acidic to alkaline structure. This limitation on the acidic presence in the bloodstream opens up the body’s autonomic nervous system and allows humans to better regulate their mood, emotions, and body temperature. In 2014, Hof teamed up with researchers at Radboud University in The Netherlands to test his three pillared methodology. The experiment aimed to understand the brain function that allows Wim to withstand extreme cold exposure. After rigorous testing, the study showed that proper application of the Wim Hof Method’s three pillars of breathing granted individuals voluntary influence over their immune systems and sympathetic nervous system. These findings provided legitimate validation for Wim Hof’s scientific research.
The philosophy behind Wim Hof’s work is just as fascinating. He has frequently opined that human beings have become too comfortable with their surroundings. Basic aspects of life we take for granted such as preconstructed shelter, uninterrupted and continuous access to food, and built-in heating were not readily available to generations prior; they had to hunt, farm, build, construct, and occasionally fight to survive. According to Hof, now that these necessities of survival are universally provided to a large portion of humanity, we have become out of touch with the primal mental condition built naturally into our minds. We must tap back into this primal mental state if we seek to achieve a more balanced and peaceful livelihood.
Simply put, there is no individual in the world today who physically represents Global Extreme’s Go Where Others Don’t Go lifestyle and mindset better than Wim Hof. He has single handedly chartered a new path for the advancement of physical and mental health and wellness. Wim Hof’s commitment to pushing boundaries in the pursuit of scientific discovery beautifully captures the pioneer spirit. It should serve as a motivator for us to unlock our mind’s primal capabilities in order to experience a new level of intrapersonal satisfaction and peace.