ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — The Iceman lives!
The sun beams down on a warm Dutch spring morning, and the Iceman’s students look wary as they watch him dump bag after bag of ice into the tub of water where they will soon be taking a dip.
The plan is to try to overcome the normal human reaction to immersion in freezing slush: gasping for air, shivering uncontrollably, and getting back out again as soon as possible.
Instead, under the direction of “Iceman” Wim Hof, the group of athletes is going to stay in the water for minutes practicing his meditation techniques, seeking possible performance or health benefits.
Hof, 52, earned his nickname from feats such as remaining in a tank of ice in Hong Kong for almost 2 hours; swimming half the length of a football field under a sheet of ice in the Arctic; and making the Guinness record books for running a half-marathon barefoot in Finnish snow in deep subzero conditions.
He tried to climb Mt. Everest in 2007 wearing only sandals and shorts, but suffered frostbite and turned back at 24,300 feet — he wants to test the limits of human potential, not die trying. He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro instead the same way in 2009.
Hof tells his students meditation in the cold strengthens mind and body. Some scientists also say ice bath treatments may have circulatory benefits for athletes, or help them recover quicker after training, although this remains controversial.
Check out the Iceman in action: