How Taking an Ice Bath Brought Me Closer to My Son

There’s a new kind of Man.

There’s at all times a brand new style of Man. Traditionally, however particularly previously 5 years, males have begun to coagulate — merge, if you’ll — round singular, unified identities that bond them in areas each actual and digital. 

We’ve got Video Sport Guys. Craft Beer Guys. Reddit Guys and Jiujitsu Guys. We even have [shudder] Hat Guys. An countless procession of… Guys. Extra just lately, in 2022, we have been launched to Spouse Guys. 

Now, I would wish to introduce you to the ultimate boss of Guys: Ice Bathtub Guys.

In case you’ve spent any time on social media, notably Instagram or TikTok, you should have seen this Man in his pure habitat. At 4 a.m., he emerges from his cave. He stands — normally semi-naked — subsequent to a bathtub, or a bucket, or an overpriced barrel packed full with ice and water. He units up his digicam, as a result of they at all times have a digicam. He makes communion with this digicam, in platitudes, in regards to the grind, about successful the day, about combating his base instincts to not get up early and partake in unhinged behaviors.

Then he plunges — absolutely submerged within the ice water, shivering as he vomits out extra platitudes. “Consolation is your enemy” or “callus your thoughts.” That form of factor.

The Ice Bathtub Man has overcome his demons, he has change into stronger, he’s higher, he’s recovering sooner, he’s feeling good, he’s the grasp of his area and his thoughts as a result of he has — at this ungodly hour — clambered clumsily into this chilly physique of water and remained nonetheless for a particular time frame.

He has change into the Final Man. The Ice Bathtub Man. 

For one weird, unforgettable day, I grew to become an Ice Bathtub Man too. 

Please permit me to clarify.

It began with chilly showers. A chilly bathe problem was my gateway drug. For the whole thing of 2022, I used to be a Chilly Bathe Man. For 12 straight months, I deserted heat water and took nothing however chilly showers. Why? I am nonetheless not solely positive. It was an impulse factor, a short lived mind illness from which I’ve since recovered. My inside monologue prompt chilly showers have been a good suggestion and I went with it. Months later, I am nonetheless undecided it was worthwhile.

My mates began jokingly calling me Wim Hof — after the Dutch motivational speaker, well-known the world over for his intense, ice-related endurance challenges. 

So in March this 12 months, when Hof — aka The Iceman — arrived in my residence metropolis of Sydney to ship a sequence of clinics, those self same mates thought it will be humorous (and considerate) to purchase me a ticket. A cross to an ice tub seminar, hosted by Hof himself.

Like a shivering, confused Pokemon, I used to be about to evolve from an itty-bitty Chilly Bathe Man… to a full-blown Ice Bathtub Man.


Luna Park, with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background

Yep, that is the Sydney Harbour Bridge within the background.

Mark Serrels/CNET

Based mostly in Sydney, inside strolling distance of the Harbour Bridge, Luna Park is sort of a Six Flags stripped again by an element of 10. 

It is a low-rent theme park, a grotesque assortment of points of interest and warped checks of ability. An establishment that holds a good quantity of nostalgia for Australians above a sure age. However in 2023, it is a warped anachronism for a distinct place and time, the place hucksters and carnies reigned supreme. It additionally — bizarrely — often performs host to enterprise conventions and motivational audio system. 

Right here, on a boiling Friday afternoon, Hof is within the means of delivering a “security briefing,” pacing frantically forwards and backwards in entrance of a crowd of lots of, making fart jokes, screaming issues like “we are able to change the world.” 

Hof is 63 years outdated. He is a bit of extra regular than I anticipated. Properly, he’s, and he is not.

Not like the TikTok influencers who climb into ice baths at 4 a.m, Hof is not ripped or shredded. He is brief and stumpy, with scraggly hair and an unkempt beard. Bearing an ill-fitting T-shirt and flip-flops, he does not appear to be a motivational speaker — he seems like an Aussie bloke grabbing a sausage roll at his native gasoline station. 

He is additionally bonkers. In a great way, I feel.

“The ice is your mirror,” he says, mysteriously.

The ice is your mirror… rattling.

I discovered myself swept away with the group. “Yeah!” I started pondering to myself. “Ice is sorta reflective. Perhaps it might be a mirror, proper guys? Perhaps we can change the world by climbing into a particularly chilly physique of water.”

Hof simply has that vibe. 

“See you on the Ice Baths,” he shouted. He’d been onstage for 2 minutes. That was our security briefing. That is all it took for Hof to persuade me and everybody in attendance that ice was a mirror and we might change the world by leaping in.

Nearly instantly, everybody poured out of the convention corridor into Luna Park. 

Surrounded by ferris wheels, fairy floss and the faint aroma of popcorn, I used to be about to partake in my very first ice tub.

The ice tub cometh

Of all of the queues at Luna Park that day, the ice tub with Hof was by far the longest. 

The irony did not escape me. It had the identical power as ready for a curler coaster. That obscure feeling of worry. A collective, vibrant pleasure. An extended-ass await a particularly short-term expertise. Caked in sunscreen in my little swim shorts, I baked within the scorching Australian solar, inching nearer to Hof and quite a few makeshift, inflatable swimming pools — full to the brim with chilly water and copious quantities of ice. 

The largest shock was the group itself. I anticipated a potent mixture of fitness-pilled Ice Bathtub Guys and barefoot hippies clad in canvas. What I received was totally different. There have been ladies right here — a lot of ladies. It may need been a 50-50 cut up. 

A crowd at an amusement park

It was the longest queue within the park.

Mark Serrels/CNET

I received to chatting. Could, a private coach, grew to become a fan of Hof after watching movies on YouTube and cycled right down to Luna Park between consumer conferences to strive an ice tub for the primary time. One other lady — middle-aged, cracking jokes the entire means — was right here on a dare. This was a once-in-a-lifetime expertise for her and I think many carried the identical vibe. Weirdly, the Ice Bathtub Guys largely stayed residence. 

In actual fact, after making it to the entrance of the queue and giving Hof a giant hug (everybody did — a part of the bundle, I assume), I observed that every one 10 folks in my ice tub group represented a various cross part of the Australian inhabitants. Males, ladies, younger, outdated, totally different races and backgrounds. All of us gave one another a fast look, the form of eye contact you share while you’re about to embark on one thing completely silly.

After which, collectively, we climbed into the ice tub.

It was… chilly. Clearly. However a distinct kind of chilly. The kind of chilly that makes your physique really feel prefer it’s on fucking hearth. Hof’s major space of experience helps his college students breathe, and, climbing into this ice tub, I instantly understood why. It was extremely onerous to inhale and exhale usually on this state. Instinctually, I believed taking lengthy deep breaths would make it simpler for me to acclimatize, but it surely did not assist in any respect. 

The one factor that basically made issues extra bearable was respiratory out. I picked some extent within the horizon to gawk at and stared into the void, ready for the 2 minutes to finish, so I might clamber out of this frozen hellhole and stay the remainder of my regular life in peace.

However then, within the remaining 30 seconds, a fever dream. Hof grabs a microphone, or a megaphone. Perhaps it was the uncooked energy of his personal voice pushed to its limits. He started chanting, screaming at full blast like a call-and-response preacher:


Everybody, in unison:




We chanted like males. Baha Males. After which it was throughout. We climbed out of the ice tub, wrapped ourselves in towels. I felt… OK? Relieved. Proud? Perhaps. I discovered myself laughing. This was hysterical. Each single a part of this was hysterical. For now, the curler coaster was over.

The King of Ice

Historical past is suffering from examples of human beings forcing themselves by means of unimaginable, torturous rituals. In Papua New Guinea, males minimize elaborate elongated patterns into their again, chest and buttocks to indicate their coming of age. Some tribes, together with Indigenous tribes right here in Australia, practiced unspeakably brutal circumcisions. Many of those traditions have been designed to ingrain an intense bond of belief in members of the tribe. If they might bear the ache of fingernail elimination or tattoos or penis mutilation, they may very well be trusted with the secrets and techniques of the clan. 

Perhaps ice baths are a particularly tame model of that very same impulse. That, or a warped mixture of junk science, placebo results and poisonous masculinity.

I’ve two sons, ages 10 and seven. Throughout my 12 months of chilly showers, each thought it was humorous to additionally take chilly showers, to see who might keep within the longest, attempting to outdo one another. My 7-year-old as soon as stayed in for quarter-hour and — hilariously — began calling himself “The King of Ice.”

A man in a bathtub, his young son looking on

Being bullied by my children. Like at all times.

Mark Serrels/CNET

However once I received residence that night time, it was my 10-year-old who was most excited once I advised him in regards to the ice baths. He needed to see if he might final two minutes like I did. That weekend, temps in Sydney hit 100 levels Fahrenheit. Driving residence from a buddy’s celebration with my son, I ended to get petrol and had a sudden mind wave. 

“Ought to we purchase some baggage of ice and make an ice tub at residence?”
My son’s eyes lit up. It was on.

We received residence and made a makeshift plunge pool in our bathtub and took turns getting in, screaming and laughing hysterically. It wasn’t as chilly because the Hof tub, but it surely was nonetheless bloody freezing. A healthful, innocent form of torture that (I feel) breeds a little bit of resilience in children. He climbed into the chilly tub and sat there for 2 minutes though it was extremely troublesome. He nonetheless, nevertheless, refuses to eat broccoli.

However I did ask myself: Why are we doing this? Why am I form of encouraging it? A fast “are ice baths okay for teenagers” search on Google allayed preliminary fears, however bigger questions started to hang-out me. Am I breeding the following era of Guys? A brand new wave of boys partaking in pointless (usually painful) actions to fill a gaping black void of validation?

My youthful child — the so-called King of Ice — was on the retailers with my spouse. I referred to as them on Facetime and advised them in regards to the ice tub. My spouse agreed to seize a number of extra baggage of ice on the best way residence so we might put son No. 2 by means of the brand new household ritual.

“Alright,” I advised my 7-year-old on the telephone. “Let’s examine who the actual King of Ice is.”

He was fired up.

However later, when he received residence, he appeared much less enthusiastic. He dipped his finger in cautiously, attempting to get a way of what he could be in for. He was extraordinarily reluctant.

“You go first, Dad,” he stated.

“I’ve already gone in,” I replied.

“In case you go in, Dad, I am going to go in. Pinky promise.”

I felt as if I had no selection. I needed to lead by instance. To show that you could possibly (and typically ought to) do troublesome issues. We pinky swore on it. Then, like a whole fool, I went again into the tub.  

This time spherical it was chilly. Correctly chilly. Simply as chilly because the ice tub at Luna Park. My limbs seized up; each ligament and bone ached. I made noises, ungodly noises. I used to be in hell. My son, cackling like an unhinged Demogorgon, discovered this extraordinarily humorous. 

Lastly, my two minutes have been up. I clumsily scrambled out of the tub, nonetheless in bodily ache.

“Your flip,” I stated, my physique nonetheless shivering.
“Nah,” he replied. “I do not wish to. 

He left the lavatory and fired up Roblox on his Nintendo Swap.

“What do you imply?” I cried, chasing after him, a crumpled, damaged outdated man.

“I am good,” he stated lastly. This boy wanted no validation. He had no void to fill.

“You could be the King of Ice.”

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