The Iceman cometh. His name is Wim Hof, and he’s bringing mind-body techniques he developed over the course of 40-plus years—during which he captured more than 20 endurance-based Guinness World Records—to his new health and spirituality title, The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential.
This determined Dutchman has already found fame through several books and documentaries—and there’s even a biopic in the works set to star Joseph Fiennes—but Hof’s latest delves into his amazing life story and explores the three pillars of his wellness program: exposure to cold, conscious breathing, and the power of the mind. “The Wim Hof Method is a way to bring us back in tune with our innate capabilities, our forgotten nativeness,” Hof says. “I want readers to feel that there is a shortcut back into their core being, to open up to a robust sensation of primordial purpose.”
The Wim Hof Method (WHM) is designed to reset one’s body chemistry to a more primal state, before human beings began coddling themselves with modern conveniences. “As humanity has evolved and developed technology that has made us more and more comfortable, we have lost our innate ability not only to survive but to thrive in extreme environments,” Hof says. “In the absence of environmental stress, the things we have built to make our lives easier have actually made us weaker. But what if we could reawaken the dormant physiological processes that made our ancestors so strong?”
Born and based in the Netherlands, Hof, 61, became known as “The Iceman” thanks to his exploits as an extreme athlete, packing his entire body in ice for more than an hour at a time, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in just a pair of shorts, and finishing a half-marathon above the Arctic Circle, barefoot. But these adventures were much more than a test of personal endurance. They were also a way to tout his system’s benefits to the public—and more importantly, to the scientific and medical community. Several impressive university studies are detailed in The Wim Hof Method. Hof credits the method with allowing him to control his autonomic nervous system, which keeps his body temperature steady despite bitter conditions. The WHM is also believed to boost both the immune system and emotional well-being, as well as to enhance athletic performance, regulate pain, increase energy, fight inflammation, and even improve one’s sex life.
Hof says readers can safely practice the WHM by themselves, at their own pace, and within the comfort of their own homes. “Just breathe, motherfucker,” is one of his favorite sayings. “A cold shower a day keeps the doctor away” is another.
Hof’s laid-back demeanor and infectious enthusiasm were on full display when he guest-starred on a recent episode of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix health-and-wellness docuseries The Goop Lab. “I just had a great time with them, a lot of fun,” Hof says. His appeance included getting Goop staffers to jump into a cold Lake Tahoe; he even coached Paltrow through his breathing exercises and a round of push-ups.
Hof acknowledges that breathing and meditation techniques have been around for millennia. “However, the cold and these specific breathing exercises have been found to be a more direct and effective way to battle deep stress,” he says. “In the end, the method can be complementary to any practice.”
Despite his success and following, Hof bristles at being referred to as some sort of guru. “Through these simple yet powerful techniques, you can make absolute change within,” he says. “You are the one to do that. You are the alchemist, you heal yourself. I just made you aware of your true power within.”