Hello! My name is Benjamin Pelton, I am currently living in Vero Beach Florida and work with Living Web Farms to bring together the newest practices for wellness and longevity. Growing up in Florida provided me with many opportunities to participate in athletics and learn more about human physiology. There was just one thing missing– something that is turning out to have a huge impact on our bodies: COLD! For my entire lifetime, Florida hasn’t sustained temperatures around freezing for more than a couple of days at a time, if at all. So here in Florida, we are missing the opportunity to stimulate our human physiology with the effects from the freezing environment. If this sounds totally crazy to you, let me introduce you to Wim Hof, the Ice Man. Three years ago, I had no idea who Wim was either, especially coming from a place to which vacationers travel simply to escape frigid temperatures.
I first heard Wim Hof speak on a Tim Ferris podcast, and I was completely blown away. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. There’s really a man that climbed beyond the death zone of Mt. Everest in only swim trunks? A man who was able to stand in an ice bath for one hour and fifty-eight minutes for another Guinness World Record? Who is this guy? How is this possible? Wim Hof, The Iceman, holds 26 World Records, and is now being recognized for changing how science views the human body. Wim Hof is causing science to rewrite the textbooks with new evidence, showing that we have the ability to control our autonomic nervous system. The energy pouring through my speakers from Wim’s voice sparked a fire of inspiration that day. I began to believe I had the same potential, and wanted to experience the enthusiasm that Wim embodied.
As someone who has dedicated years to training the body, learning that there was more performance and wellness to unlock was captivating. I knew that I wanted to meet Wim, and so as soon as I saw he was opening a US based Academy I immediately signed up to become an Instructor of the Wim Hof Method. Each level in the Academy was transformative and enlightening. I was challenged with obstacles I had never faced before. The cold was something I never thought to utilize as a training modality. When you practice exercise, you create specific stresses that create targeted responses for positive adaptation to facilitate strength and health. The same applies for utilizing stress from cold exposure. The Wim Hof Method teaches us how to manage pain and stress better. Above the enlightenment of this new treatment, my experience has taught me to feel more empathy for those suffering from pain and stress.
My first impression after being immersed in the Wim Hof Method (WHM) was how life changing
the method is. The reprogramming of my mind toward a new understanding of the benefits of cold exposure training was incredible. There is more evidence now than ever supporting the benefits of cold exposure for health, and without a doubt, learning about this information is life changing. With a positive outlook towards cold exposure, participating in the Method is much easier. The WHM is great for increasing energy, improving sleep, heightening focus, increasing sports performance, reducing stress levels, enabling faster recovery, enhancing creativity, and developing a stronger immune system. The top three benefits I experienced immediately after practicing WHM were better sleep, more consistent relaxation throughout the day, and less instances of cold or flu. I would say my favorite benefit is stress management. By practicing the Wim Hof Method, one is able to de-escalate his own stress, and handle it in a more natural way. This is one of the most powerful benefits of the method.
The Wim Hof Method and its community are also amazing because the three major principles of the WHM are Happiness, Strength, and Health. When you are implementing tools and practices that bring you more happiness, bring you more strength, and bring you more health then you are seeking a life you will love. While instructing the Wim Hof Method I have been inspired by the empowerment this method provides. It was very powerful to watch two women, a mother and her daughter, conquer their fears of the cold. Their mindsets changed, and they knew they were becoming stronger by enduring the cold. Seeing this shift from being frightened to feeling accomplishment for conquering the fear was amazing and I hope to share this experience with many more. It has been very inspiring to hear how this method has helped so many with health issues, and I feel very blessed to be able to share this healing method with people who are in need.
The Wim Hof Method is designed to be a simple and effective tool, and in addition to increasing happiness, strength, and health, the method also works well for checking your ego. Wim describes the cold as a mirror. When you are inside the cold water you have the opportunity to reflect on how you react under stress. If you allow your ego to get in the way, you will learn the hard way from nature. In the cold, nature is unforgiving and merciless. Being mindful of cold’s temperament is crucial for training in the cold safely. It is important to understand boundaries and learn from experienced instructors. Working with an experienced instructor will give you an opportunity to challenge yourself and see how much potential you really have.
As an instructor, I continue to challenge myself through the WHM. Recently, when I finished sprinting down a mountain in winter with a group of Wim Hof Instructors, I asked them if they thought the summit we had completed was a challenge. I immediately received some interesting faces, all of which carried the same expression. The other instructors were not impressed with the sunny 35-degree Fahrenheit temperature and the light snow. I responded that I, too, was expecting the environment to be more of a challenge. A few of the Instructors standing in the circle had traveled to Poland to complete the famous Mt. Snezka summit with Wim Hof.
“Do you want to experience a challenge?” they said. “Go climb Mt. Snezka, that will test you!” I felt a strong feeling in my stomach that I needed to experience the beast for myself. I went on the Wim Hof Method website and searched for the next event taking place in Poland. Kasper van der Meulen, the lead Instructor for the WHM Academy was hosting a winter travel to Mt. Snezka, so I immediately committed to the trip. This was my first time traveling to Europe, and for an entire week we discussed human physiology, neurology, and the Wim Hof Method. We trained each day with the cold to prepare the body for the final summit, Mt. Snezka.
The day of the Summit, the temperatures were the coldest I’ve personally trained in at the time. The thermometer was reading -5 degrees Fahrenheit! This was something I had never experienced before. This was the tundra I was searching for, and there was snow everywhere. The hairs on my arms froze over and my goatee had icicles hanging from it. For 3 hours we hiked in nothing but a bathing suit and boots. As we began the climb of the final leg, the skies cleared above us and the sun shone brightly, unveiling a spectacular view of Mt. Snezka. At the top we celebrated as a group the amazing accomplishment of climbing Mt. Snezka with wind chills as cold as -15 degrees Fahrenheit, all in our bathing suits.
The experience of climbing Mt. Snezka taught me many lessons about strength and perseverance. By practicing the Wim Hof Method, I was able to control my mind and body to complete the summit and withstand the frozen tundra.
Why did I put myself through this experience? Because I wanted to experience it first-hand. I wanted to feel the adrenaline of a -15 degrees Fahrenheit wind chill. I knew I could complete the summit and accomplishing it felt very self-empowering. I believe that the feelings of accomplishment from the summit have carry-over into fueling drive to accomplish other goals in life. Completing Mt. Snezka taught me that I can accomplish challenging tasks, and with some determination I can accomplish even more.
This winter I will be teaching the Wim Hof Method Fundamentals at Living Web Farms in Mills River, NC and will share some of the valuable lessons I have learned from the cold. Please join me, February 2nd 2019 at Living Web Farms Mills River Educational Farm for a WHM Fundamental Workshop. In this event, you will be guided in the three pillars of WHM, practice breath work, and have the opportunity to do an ice plunge. I’m so looking forward to sharing this inspirational and life-changing work!
Note: Ben will also teach “Body Movement Rehabilitation” at the farm in July 2019, exploring myofascial awareness and other cutting edge health information. Stay tuned for information about this offering, when we release our full 2019 schedule…very soon!