Wim Hof: The Iceman

Wim Hof, better known as The Iceman, holds multiple world records for his ability to withstand extremely cold temperatures.

The athlete and motivational speaker developed the Wim Hof Method and has become a global cultural phenomenon.

His teachings about breathwork and the benefits of cold plunges have attracted millions of followers throughout the world.

Wim Hof sitting in the snow

Finland’s Arctic Circle may not be the ideal spot you have in mind when running a marathon - unless your name is Wim Hof. 

Better recognized as The Iceman, Hof is a Dutch motivational speaker and extreme athlete recognized for his capability of resisting exceptionally low temperatures.  

Born on 20 April 1959, Hof first began experimenting with the extreme cold as a teen.  

He would sit outside in the snow for hours and would often sleep outdoors during the winter without a tent or a sleeping bag.

Hof found that not only could he control his body temperature, but he could actually stay warm in extreme conditions.  

Knowing this, Hof has done some phenomenal things, including holding himself in ice water for nearly two hours, climbing Mount Everest in Nepal without a shirt on, and running a half marathon through the Namib Desert in Southern Africa without a drink of water. 

Over the years, he has earned 18 Guinness World Records titles due to his remarkable ability to control his body and mind under intense conditions.

Armed with his motto “What I am capable of, everybody can learn”, Hof believes that people can tap into their inner potential using his ‘Wim Hof Method’: a combination of breathing, cold therapy, and meditation. 

Hof believes our bodies are capable of doing amazing things and attributes his feats to this method, which he says can make the human body more resilient under physical and psychological stress. 

The Wim Hof Method is composed of three parts: breathing, cold therapy, and commitment. 

According to his website, consistent practise of his methods has many benefits, including feeling like you have more energy, a boost to the immune system, more restful sleep, lower blood pressure, and stress relief. 

Hof has certainly challenged the limits of what the human body can achieve. But he wasn’t always The Iceman we know today. 

In a Vice Documentary on his life, Hof shared the story of how his wife tragically took her own life, leaving him to raise their four children on his own. 

Hof spiralled into a deep depression.

"Cold is merciless. It shows you where you are. What you are."

- Wim Hof

Wim Hof Submerged in Ice

As he began feeling that his life had lost meaning, he started to swim in ice-cold rivers to numb his pain. 

In his documentary, Hof says the cold was “merciless but righteous.” 

This marked the very beginning of a lifelong journey of self-experimentation for Hof, who began devoting his life to understanding how the power of the cold and breathing can improve our health.

Over the years, Hof has broken numerous records, including outdoing his own previous attempts. 

To this day, he still holds the record for the fastest half marathon barefoot on ice/snow. He smashed that way back in 2007 with a time of 2 hr 16 min 34 sec.

In the past, Hof twice claimed the record for the longest swim under ice - breath held (no fins, no diving suit, male), first with 50 m (164 ft) in 1999 and again in 2000 with a distance of 57.5 m (188 ft 6 in). 

That record is now held by David Vencl (Czech Republic) with 80.99 m (265 ft 8.58 in).

Hof has broken the record for the longest duration full body contact with ice a whopping 15 times over the years. 

His best effort came in 2013 when he lasted 1 hr 53 min 2 sec. 

But today, that record is held by Valerjan Romanovski (Poland) with a time of 3 hr 28 sec. 

Hof has used his platform and world records to raise an understanding of the importance of cold therapy and its physical and mental health benefits. 

Hof’s story has inspired people throughout the world to push their limits and achieve things they never thought were possible. 

He hopes that more people will be able to benefit from his method and its ability to improve overall health and well-being.

Wim Hof running barefoot