Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof trailer from the BBC
“I believe in what I do and I want to change the world by bringing autonomy, love, happiness, strength and health,” he booms. “And happiness is dopamines, it’s serotonins, it’s hormones. Through doing this we are able to activate the endocrine system and regulate happiness. If you go into the cold water, the dopamine goes up 250 percent and the noradrenaline goes up 540 percent and that is what is lacking in people who become depressed. They can get a shot of dopamine and noradrenaline just by doing this.
“So through all these things I know how to enhance performance.
“I train athletes, the world’s best come to me. And I always say, ‘I don’t care how good you are, I can make you better. So listen up’.”
There is no doubt the Dutchman is passionate and has complete conviction about what he does.
He insists loudly: “What I am capable of, everybody can learn. It’s not about being tough, it’s about taking control over your own fears.
“We don’t like the cold initially because we are used to living in a comfort zone which is destimulating our greatest organ which is the skin. A muscle you don’t use.”
The mainstream has only woken up to the benefits of the Wim Hof method relatively recently, but the 62-year-old has been refining it over 40 years. It is now championed by scientists across the world and he is about to become a TV star.
BBC viewers will get a chance to see what The Iceman is talking about in his new series Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof, which starts Tuesday.
The show takes former footballer Patrice Evra, sports presenter Gabby Logan, opera singer Alfie Boe, act-ress Tamzin Outh-waite, weatherman Owain Wyn Evans, Strictly’s Dianne Buswell, rapper Professor Green and singing footballer Chel-cee Grimes to the Italian Alps to take part in increasingly difficult and daring challenges.
Wim Hof in icy waters, using his breath technique
Wim can withstand seemingly impossible levels of cold
Wim says: “Some challenges are about the combination of sub-zero temperatures and motor feats. They face their fears absolutely.
“Fear is deep within us, only we cannot get a hold of it. But go into freezing cold and suddenly you’re in the same area where fear comes from. Deep emotions and deep trauma come to the surface.
“Anxiety comes from inflammation caused by the stresses of our society. It’s a signal that your body’s chemistry and functionality is at stake. The series shows how to
harness the therapeutic power of the cold to get a grip of your own biochemistry.”
Over eight episodes the celebrities begin to take control of their minds and bodies, plunging into sub- zero lakes and performing forward facing abseils down sheer cliffs.
Presented by This Morning host Holly Willoughby and comedian Lee Mack, the idea came after Holly was impressed by Wim’s method and discussed it as a series with her TV producer husband Dan Baldwin.
It was developed into a format with UK production company Hungry Bear Media.
Grinning, Wim says he was thrilled when the BBC came onboard: “There’s suddenly so much interest because people are looking for ways to gain more control over their mind and body.
New reality show is based on Wim Hof's practices
“Wild swimming grew explosively during Covid because it was such a confusing, restricting time.
“This series gave me the opportunity to use a big shop window where celebrities go into their deepest fears and blockages they could not access. And now they can.
“They were afraid at first but they were motivated. They knew they were going so deep and they were full of anxiety and excitement.
“This is what you see in the episodes. I make it practical and it is so identifiable that people in their living rooms are able to think, ‘Oh if I push it, I can do that too’.
“And if that happens, if the mainstream is going to take this on, we can change health care, mentally and physically.
“I’ve been waiting for this for 40 years. I’ve been saying, ‘Hey, this is good for you’, and nobody believed me. They’d say, ‘Don’t deal with that guy, he’s mad, he’s crazy, he’s going into freezing water. Who does this?’
“But I do and I feel so good. I am never sick, ever. Now I teach people all over the world.”
He learnt to tolerate extreme cold as a way of dealing with the death of his wife Olaya back in 1995. A schizophrenic, she committed suicide by throwing herself from a building. Wim was left alone with four young children and no money.
“I was dealing with emotional agony yet needing to be strong. The children made me survive but the cold water healed me. The thinking stopped and the body took over and gave me a moment of relief inside.”
Born in a small Dutch village, he discovered the therapeutic affects of cold when he was 17.
“One day I felt attracted to the freezing water. I was a thinker, I jumped into a canal in a park in Amsterdam and thought, ‘This is it’.
“The deep connection I felt that day was the starting point. Every day in the 45 years since I’ve gone into the cold.”
The Wim Hof Method, created with his son Enahm, is a combination of frequent cold exposure, breathing techniques, yoga and meditation. Their collaboration has changed his financial fortunes.
He says: “I was doing this for such a long time because I believe in it, but I didn’t make any money.
“Then Enahm came in and got a framework around me – and now we make millions. When I am on stage I say I must be a good salesman because I sell breath and cold.”
Cold water exposure was done in a controlled environment
These days the father-of-six flits between Poland and the Nether-lands. He is friends with A-listers such as Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey and David Beckham. He says: “They love to meet me because I’m the man who’s been there and done it.”
He explains: “Enahm works with me and I have two lovely daughters who do workshops at my academy.We have 1200 teachers now and they love to do it.
“I introduced my children to the icy water when they were babies.
“When they were young I was the dad at their primary school coming to get them in shorts in winter.
“People used to say, ‘Look at him, he’s crazy’. Now it’s different.”
So what’s next? He smiles: “A Hollywood movie with Joseph Fiennes playing me. You try and get my life in a film but the reality is more dramatic. I am a normal guy who is going to change the world!”
● Freeze The Fear With Wim Hof begins on BBC One, Tuesday, 9pm