Saturday, 8 August 2015

Meet Wim ‘Iceman’ Hof, the guy who endures freezing temperatures

Wim Hof is a 56-year-old Dutchman who can manipulate his body so it doesn’t feel cold.
Wim Hof is a 56-year-old Dutchman who can manipulate his body so it doesn’t feel cold.Source: Facebook
YOU get the feeling Wim Hof is the kind of bloke who wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if he had visited Australia during our recent “Antarctic vortex”.
Dubbed the Iceman, the 56-year-old year old Dutchman has baffled scientists for years.
He’s climbed Mount Everest in nothing but a pair of shorts and ran a marathon in the Namibian Desert with no water. He broke a world record after staying submerged in ice for almost two hours without his core body temperature changing. He’s been poked and prodded in a science lab and resisted illness with the power of his mind.
Using a combination of cold immersion, breathing techniques and mental focus, Wim says anyone can do what he can do.
When he’s not living in his houseboat in the Netherlands, he takes daredevil punters on expeditions to freezing locations around the world, teaching them his method.
To test Wim’s theory, Vice asked hosts Matt Shea and Daisy-May Hudson to learn his method and climb a freezing cold mountain in their shorts for a documentary, Iceman.
“For me, God is cold,” Wim told them. “You could say that. I think of the cold as a noble force. It’s just helping me, training me … It’s bringing me back to nature the way it was meant to be. And this way, I not only endure the cold, I love the cold.”
Wim holds 20 world records. Picture: Vice
Wim holds 20 world records. Picture: Vice Source: Supplied
When Iceman producer Daisy-May Hudson first met Wim, she was initially sceptical. “But his charisma and absolute belief in his method quickly whirls you on the journey,” she told news.com.au. “After the first round of breathing, I was quite blown away. It felt like my whole body was surging and I had this second layer around me.
“The second time I did it, I was holding my breath for four to five minutes. Even when you felt like you needed to breathe, you tell your brain you don’t [need to] and suddenly you can hold your breath for another minute and a half.
“It’s about pushing through all the normal conditioning and limitations of our body that we put on ourselves.”
As Matt, Daisy and Wim climb freezing Mount Snezna in Poland, Matt describes how the breathing technique works.
“I’m breathing in more oxygen than I need and breathing out without fully letting go, doing that five times and on the final breath squeezing my neck, chest and head and that creates either real or illusionary heat and then you let go. And that’s how we get to the top of the mountain,” he explains to the camera, while wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and his hiking boots.
Daisy and Matt during their training, where they practise the breathing exercises in free
Daisy and Matt during their training, where they practise the breathing exercises in freezing cold water. Picture: Vice Source: Supplied
Wim and Matt put their techniques to the test. Picture: Vice
Wim and Matt put their techniques to the test. Picture: Vice Source: Supplied
In another scene, Matt and Wim stand in a freezing lake in their swimmers. “We just stayed in that freezing cold water for one minute, and the crazy part is I feel warm on the inside,” Matt says. “It must be adrenaline or something, but I finally get it.
“By standing in there and letting the adrenaline rush over you, you don’t feel the cold. I could stand out here for a while. If you concentrate hard enough the snow looks just like sand and you feel like you’re at the beach.”
Daisy said she had to let her body surrender control over to her mind. “It suddenly felt like all the things that we’d been taught, like don’t swim in minus freezing water, don’t climb up a mountain naked and don’t hold your breathe because you’ll die, was all being shattered,” she said.
While people might describe Wim as a superhero, in just a few hours Daisy and Matt were learning the techniques Wim uses to achieve his world records. “It felt like we were the first people stepping on the moon or something — we were literally at the frontiers of science and had the privilege of trying it first hand,” Daisy said.
Few are brave enoguh for a snow hike in shorts. Picture: Vice
Few are brave enoguh for a snow hike in shorts. Picture: Vice Source: Supplied
In the documentary, Wim’s son Enahm says his father’s decision to push his body this hard came after his wife committed suicide in 1995. He has since remarried.
“Everything started there,” Enahm explains. “My mum was psychotic. She had 11 personalities and she was never there for us. They stuff her up with pills and she committed suicide. So that was the beginning of my dad exploring the answers to all of life’s problems.”
Wim says sadness motivates him. “What happens when your wife, who you love so dearly, suicides? You don’t understand. You just don’t understand. You have no power anymore.
“You know people think I’m crazy. Maybe I am crazy, but not because of my breathing techniques, not because of my cold water swimming, not because of my being fearless in extreme challenges.”
But it’s not death Wim fears. “I fear not living fully,” he says.
Wim wants to use his body as a laboratory and hopes his techniques will lead to a cure for mental illness and trauma. His goal is to make us happy, healthy and strong. “Love is my mission.”

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