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Our MD went to Poland to meet Wim Hof and find out how ice bathing, cold exposure and breathwork could be used to enhance business resilience.

Last week I climbed a freezing mountain in my bikini.

Having taken some time for reflection at the very beginning of the year I knew I wanted to challenge myself. My challenge had to be extreme but one that appealed to me personally.

I was already a fan of winter swimming and was aware of the power of the cold to exhilarate and strengthen.

I had watched ‘Freeze the Fear’ on the BBC and been fascinated and inspired. When I saw the opportunity to join the 2024 Wim Hof Winter Expedition, I immediately knew that this was the adventure for me.

Before I Went

The Winter Expedition trains 'Hoffers' in the #wimhofmethod, a combination of cold exposure and breathing techniques.

The central challenge is a three hour climb up a snowy mountain in just swimwear.

I had no idea if I was capable of this, but I figured training would help, so I invested in the online Wim Hof Fundamentals (10 units of pre-recorded breathing and cold exposure challenges) and made breathwork and cold showers part of my everyday routine. (I was very grateful I had done this)! There was also quite a complicated packing list to work through.

The Expedition

Fast forward to February 25th and I was meeting 400 like-minded (crazy) Hoffer adventurers in Poland! I shared a hotel room with two total strangers who turned out to be the most amazing souls, soon becoming close friends.

We navigated every doubt and every challenge together supporting and encouraging each other to overcome our fears. Some days really weren’t easy, and we took it in turns to lean on each other.

Communal ice bathing and group breathwork sessions with our instructors make up the main part of the training camp, preparing us for the key challenges of group submersion in an icy mountain waterfall in the forest, and the big snowy semi-naked mountain climb.

Most people seem surprised to hear that Wim Hof himself was present every day of the expedition, charming and motivating us with his own unique brand of revolution, playfulness, mindfulness, and music.

Breathwork sessions with music, drums, and Wim’s extraordinary chanting took us places in our minds we didn’t know existed, releasing emotions and creating deep and powerful insight.

It’s hard to describe but the results were life changing for many. I recommend trying a group breathwork experience at least once!

We all had our fears and doubts going in to this week, as you can imagine, but for me the ice bathing was the biggest fear.

Although I had done winter swimming I had never experienced sitting in ice before. Also, the ice baths were outdoors and the outside temperature was freezing.

The method does not allow for warming up with hot showers, hot water bottles or saunas which has always been my way when winter swimming!

Instead, our instructors taught us techniques to warm up using just mind and movement. I was doubtful at first, but the methods were simple and really effective.

I managed every challenge put to me, as did everyone else in the group.

I did things I would never have thought I was half way capable of. In fact as the week went on it became easy, to the point that we were slipping out for sneaky night time ice baths just for fun!


On the third day we were ready to climb the mountain, Sniezhka, which straddles the Czech - Polish border and reaches 5,600 feet at its peak.

That morning, we were invited to a breathwork session at 6.00 am followed by the usual huge communal breakfast. Having spent three days mastering the warming up techniques we felt fully able to complete the climb although there were definitely a few twitchy nerves.

As well as a bikini I wore shorts, a hat, gloves and micro spikes (to climb in ice and snow).

The climb took us 2 hours and 40 minutes. We climbed in pairs, mostly in silence as instructed. The temperature was around freezing, and the weather was densely foggy.

The atmosphere in the group was great though, fully committed, warm and supportive.

To my great surprise the climb felt well within my capabilities. The warmth of the group dynamic and the support of our instructors carried us through fog, ice and snow and up the mountain without a single shivery moment. It was a beautiful experience in every way possible.

At the top we celebrated then reluctantly put on warm clothes, ate lunch, and climbed down the mountain again, this time buzzing with elation and astonished at how easy this feat was once you learned a few simple techniques.

The Final Day

The week really went by in a flash. On the final day we drove out into deep forest and walked to a beautiful section of the river where the water flowed down the mountain in a series of waterfalls.

Having prepared ourselves mentally we climbed into a deep and bitingly cold pool one by one and as a group we swam and splashed freely chanting and singing as Wim and others played the drums above us.  

The day ended with a quick 1:2:1 with Wim by the waterfall, a hug and a photo.

There is no doubt that I will keep these weird and wonderful memories for ever and the friends I made will be friends for life.

My Takeaway

My takeaway from the week? I now know that I am capable of extraordinary things, and so are we all. Not only that, but I now understand that the apparently impossible can become easy and even commonplace very quickly with the right support.  

The whole week proved to me that even things that look way out of reach are in fact easily within our grasp. I will carry that perception forwards into the rest of my life and pass that message on in any way I can.

The Science

You may be wondering about the science behind the Wim Hof method. There are countless books, studies and interviews if you are interested. However, I have summed up the basic tenets of the method as follows:

The Wim Hof breathing method involves controlled hyperventilation followed by breath retention, which can lead to increased oxygen saturation in the blood, reduced carbon dioxide levels, and activation of the sympathetic nervous system.

These physiological changes can improve immune function, reduce inflammation, increase energy levels, enhance mental focus, and promote a sense of well-being. Additionally, the method can help regulate stress responses and improve cardiovascular health.

It is also common to have visions and deep emotional insights which can clear your mind and inform your creative thinking in a significant way.

Exposure to cold temperatures activates a response known as cold thermogenesis, leading to increased metabolism, improved circulation, and the activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT), which helps burn calories to generate heat.

Ice baths can also reduce inflammation, enhance recovery after exercise, boost the immune system, and promote mental well-being by triggering the release of endorphins and norepinephrine.

Additionally, regular exposure to cold temperatures can help increase resilience to stress and improve cardiovascular health.

My Recommendation

If you are running your own business, I would strongly recommend finding out more about the Wim Hof Method. The benefits to your mental and physical strength along with increased clarity, focus and creativity are invaluable.

There is no particular need to go on a mad winter pilgrimage, in fact you can get all the benefits of the method without spending any money at all.

Just search Wim Hof Method on You Tube. Breathing is free, and being in the UK we also have an unending supply of cold water in our showers, rivers, and seas. (I had never really considered the fact that in a lot of countries a cold shower is impossible without a lot of expensive equipment. So, at last, a reason to be grateful for the UK climate)!

To all my fellow Turquoise Warriors 2024 - thank you for the most amazing experience. You are the best! I look forward to many reunions.