The Truth About The Real-Life Iceman Wim Hof

Wim Hof thinks he has tapped into the way to control the immune system and find optimum health and happiness, and he wants to share his method with the world. It's not exactly new or complicated, and according to Discover Magazine and Rolling Stone, scientific studies even support Hof's method, which he calls the aptly named, Wim Hof Method. 

But Hof is somewhat of a rare human. The Dutch extreme athlete swears by immersing oneself in ice and extreme cold as a means of attaining optimal health — so much so that he is called The Iceman. Hof has 21 Guinness World Records for various seemingly superhuman feats including swimming under the ice for 66 meters, wearing only shorts while running a half-marathon in the Arctic Circle, and running a full marathon in the Namib Desert and drinking nothing, according to his website, The Wim Hof Method

Exposure to extreme cold is only part of the Wim Hof Method. Specialized breathing techniques are the first pillar of the WHM, and the third is commitment to the teachings. According to The Wim Hof method website, anyone who dedicates themselves to the first two pillars of WHM will surely be living their best lives, replete with energy, reduced stress, reduced inflammation, "a fortified immune system," better sleep, balanced hormone levels, and more. 

Lots of deep breathing and an occasional ice bath with some like-minded homies can reset your whole situation. Even something as simple as cold showers can be beneficial, according to The Iceman. 

Tragedy made Wim Hof want to share his method with the world

Wim Hof came by his method in part by chance, in part by instinct. He told Rolling Stone that when he was 17 and growing up in Amsterdam, one winter day he was walking near a half-frozen canal and had the urge to get in the frigid water. He went for it. 

"I felt this attraction to the cold water," he told Rolling Stone, "And then, after I went in, I felt this understanding, an inside connection. It gave me a rush. My mind was free of gibberish." 

From then on, Hof kept seeking out freezing cold water to get into and started coupling the experience with breathing techniques based on ancient Tibetan Buddhist Tummo meditation. Hof kept up his unusual habit for 15 years. Then, in a tragic turn of events, his wife, who had been in the early stages of schizophrenia, took her own life. Hof told Rolling Stone he realized his method could help others. 

Rolling Stone reported that Hof once said, "I can bring people back to tranquility. My method can give them back control." 

Since then he's been trying to convince anyone who will listen that the WHM will change their lives for the better. 

"There is absolutely no speculation with this, Hoff told Rolling Stone. "We're able to get into the DNA in the deepest part of the brainstem and fight off inflammation, pain, anxiety, fear, PTSD, trauma, and depression. Hangovers — 20 minutes of breathing, gone!"