An Ice Bath a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Benjamin Pelton isn’t cold: you are.

Twenty-nine-year-old Benjamin Pelton, full-time fitness guru and part-time Wim Hof Academy instructor, has lived in Florida his entire life. After studying Philosophy at Florida State University, he began training as a fitness coach and working remotely at Living Web Farms in Mills River, where they hired him to be a wellness director. 

At the end of 2015, Pelton had just finished traveling the country, learning physical training from 15 different experts, when he stumbled upon Dutch extreme athlete Wim Hof while listening to a Tim Ferris podcast. 

Also known as “The Iceman,” Hof has accomplished 26 world records for exposure to cold, including the time he hiked Mt. Everest in a pair of swim trunks. “I was like, ‘This is crazy,’” exclaims Pelton. “How is it possible a human is doing these things? It lit a fire within me immediately, making me reflect on life and what is actually possible with human physiology.” 

How does being a Florida resident most of the year affect your credibility as a Wim Hof practitioner?

You know what I tell people? If I can successfully do this in Florida, I can be successful anywhere. It is bizarre, but once people understand the health benefits, they understand that it doesn’t matter where you live if you want to practice. Not only do I practice at home, but I have already hiked Mt. Snezka in Poland in a pair of swim trunks and plan to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro sometime in the future. 

Describe in one sentence what the Wim Hof method is.

It’s a simple and effective method for regaining control over your own physiology and for developing better stress management to bring you more happiness, strength, and health.

According to the Wim Hof Academy, the three pillars of the method seem to be cold therapy, breathing, and commitment. How do those work together?

They work together synergistically. The breathing protocol helps us manage our [biological] happy drugs, like dopamine and serotonin. We are able to release them by breathing, and in doing so, you can better manage your overall happiness. It takes dedication to be healthy, so we strive for cold-therapy training because it can dramatically stimulate your immune system while simultaneously training your cardiovascular system. Committing to the practice will provide strength. For example, when you get into the cold, you must have mental fortitude. Dealing with the high level of stress that is created from the cold helps us to develop a stronger mindset, become more mindful, and ultimately have a better outlook on life.

What will your local workshop look like?

It’s part lecture and the other part hands on. In the first session, we start with an introduction into the science behind the Wim Hof Method. Then, I teach the breathing mechanics by breaking down the human anatomy and how we are supposed to breathe, and end with going over the exercises to optimize breathing. Next, I allow participants to implement it. Here, we practice correctives to breathing, discuss benefits of the cold, and finish with an ice bath. This is a time for each individual to practice stress management and deal with the intensity first hand.

What do you expect participants to walk away with?

They should walk away with an understanding on how to apply the Wim Hof method into their daily routine. Participants should understand the benefits of cold training, how to breathe correctly, how to correct a poor breathing pattern, and what it takes to have the right mindset in order to continue the practice. It is a lifestyle change. It isn’t just something you do … it’s what you become.

Benjamin Pelton presents “The Wim Hof Method to Optimize Mind and Body” at Living Web Farms (176 Kimzey Road, Mills River) Saturday, Feb. 2, 10am-2pm. Cost is $130. For more information and for a list of upcoming workshops, visit livingwebfarms.org. (At press time, the class had reached capacity but was offering a waiting list; e-mail benjamin@livingwebfarms.org for possible openings. The class can also be audited online via Living Web’s video archives.)

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