Wim Hof

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Wim Hof
Hof in 2019
Born (1959-04-20) 20 April 1959 (age 64)
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Other namesThe Iceman
Occupation(s)Extreme athlete and motivational speaker

Wim Hof ([ʋɪmɦɔf]; born 20 April 1959), also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch motivational speaker and extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand low temperatures.[1] He previously held a Guinness World Record for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and he holds a record for a barefoot half marathon on ice and snow. He attributes these feats to his Wim Hof Method[2] (WHM), a combination of frequent cold exposure, breathing techniques and meditation. Hof's method has been the subject of several scientific studies, with mixed results.

Personal life[edit]

Wim Hof was born on April 20 1959 in Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands. He was one of nine children.[3] Hof met his first wife Marivelle-Maria, also called "Olaya Rosino Fernandez", in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam in the garden of roses. She died by suicide in 1995 by jumping from an eight-story building. According to Hof, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia.[4] Wim Hof’s first relevant experiences with the cold goes back to when he was 17: he felt a sudden urge to jump into the freezing cold water of the Beatrixpark canal.[5] The first relevant scientific investigation began in 2011 at Radboud University.[6] On 19 April 2011, the results of this study were broadcast on Dutch national television.[7][8]

Wim Hof Method[edit]

Hof immersed in an ice bath on 24 March 2007, Rotterdam

Hof markets a regimen called the Wim Hof Method (WHM), which involves willpower, exposure to cold water, and breathing techniques.[9] While Hof claims his method has beneficial effects on various conditions, there is little scientific basis for these claims.[10] Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, a scientist who has studied Hof, said: "[Hof's] scientific vocabulary is galimatias. With conviction, he mixes in a non-sensical way scientific terms as irrefutable evidence."[11] Wim's identical twin brother Andre has a similar tolerance for cold, despite living a different lifestyle, suggesting that much if not all of Hof's abilities are innate.[12]

Method-related deaths[edit]

Four practitioners drowned in 2015 and 2016, and relatives suspected the breathing exercises were to blame.[13][14] In 2021, a Singaporean man drowned in a condominium pool when attempting the method.[15] A $67 million lawsuit was filed against Innerfire and Wim Hof in 2022 that alleged 17-year old Madelyn Rose Metzger died after performing the Wim Hof Method in her pool in Long Beach California.[16] The plaintiff is seeking an injunction against Hof and Innerfire teaching the method in the United States again.[17][18] The trial date is set for January 2024.[19] At least three people drowned in the summer of 2023 with their family citing Wim Hof breathing as the cause.[20][21] At least one person has died after cold-water immersion.[22] The leading cause of death with Wim Hof Method-related activities seems to be shallow water blackout where practitioners hyperventilate in or around water and unexpectedly lose consciousness.

Records and stunts[edit]

Wim Hof has claimed to have attained 26 world records,[23][24] but he has held only three different records. The higher numbers that are reported can be attributed mainly to breaking the record ''Full-body contact with ice'' 15 times, often by beating his own previous record.[25]

Fastest half-marathon barefoot on ice and snow[edit]

The fastest half-marathon run while barefoot on ice or snow is 2 hr 16 min 34 sec by Hof near Oulu, Finland, on 26 January 2007. Done for the Discovery Channel program Real Super-humans and the Quest for the Future Fantastic, this is the only current Guinness record in Hof's name.[26]

Swimming under ice[edit]

On 16 March 2000, Hof set the Guinness World Record for farthest swim under ice on his second attempt, with a distance of 57.5 metres (188.6 feet).[27] Hof's first attempt the day before failed when he began his swim without goggles and his corneas froze solid and blinded him. A rescue diver pulled him to the surface after he passed out.[28] The record has been broken several times since and now stands at 265 feet (81 m) as of 2022.[27][29]

Full-body contact with ice[edit]

Hof has set the world record for longest time in direct, full-body contact with ice, 44 minutes in January 2010.[30] Hof's record has been broken several times and as of 2021 it stands at 3 hours, 28 seconds.[31]

Mountaineering in shorts[edit]

In 2007, Hof climbed to an altitude of 7,400 metres (24,300 ft) on Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes, but aborted the attempt due to a recurring foot injury. He managed to climb from base camp to about 6,700 metres (22,000 ft) wearing just shorts and sandals, but after that he wore boots, saying he needed to affix crampons at that point.[32]

In 2016, Hof reached Gilman's Point on Mount Kilimanjaro with journalist Scott Carney in 28 hours, an event later documented in the book What Doesn't Kill Us.[33]


A number of documentary films have been made on the life and teachings of Wim Hof. In 2017, Vice magazine produced a documentary The Super Human World of Wim Hof: The Iceman.[34] In 2020, the YouTube channel Yes Theory published a short film about their experiences with Hof, titled Becoming Superhuman with Ice Man.[35]


Cover of Becoming the Iceman
  • Hof, Wim (1998). Klimmen in stilte [Climbing in silence] (in Dutch). Altamira. ISBN 9789069634395.
  • Hof, Wim (2000). De top bereiken is je angst overwinnen [Reaching the top is overcoming your fear] (in Dutch). Andromeda. ISBN 9789055991136.
  • Hof, Wim; Rosales, Justin (2012). Becoming the Iceman : pushing past perceived limits. Mill City Press. ISBN 9781937600464.
  • Hof, Wim; Jong, Koen A.M. de (2015). Koud kunstje : wat kun je leren van de iceman?. Uitgeverij Water. ISBN 9789491729256.
  • Carney, Scott and Wim Hof (introduction). (2017) What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength. ISBN 9781635652413
  • Hof, Wim (2020). The Wim Hof Method. Penguin Random House. ISBN 9781846046292.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shea, Daisy-May Hudson and Matt (16 July 2015). "ICEMAN". Vice. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Welcome to the Official Wim Hof Method Website". www.wimhofmethod.com. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  3. ^ Hof & Rosales 2012, p. 10.
  4. ^ Joe Rogan (interviewer) and Wim Hof (21 October 2015). Wim Hof (podcast). Joe Rogan Experience. Vol. 712. Joe Rogan. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  5. ^ Elliott, Bryan (23 November 2021). "Behind the Brand with Wim Hof". Inc.com. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  6. ^ "Research on 'Iceman' Wim Hof suggests it may be possible to influence autonomic nervous system and immune response". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  7. ^ Wim Hof a.k.a. The Ice Man, Science Breakthrough! 19 April 2011, retrieved 26 August 2022
  8. ^ "Zoeken". EenVandaag (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  9. ^ Wollaston, Sam (13 April 2022). "'Can I get out now please?': Could Wim Hof help me unleash my body's inner power?". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "Wim Hof, the Iceman | Science-Based Medicine". sciencebasedmedicine.org. 12 January 2021. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  11. ^ van Marken Lichtenbelt, Wouter (11 July 2017). "Who is the Iceman?". Temperature. 4 (3): 202–205. doi:10.1080/23328940.2017.1329001. PMC 5605164. PMID 28944263.
  12. ^ Vosselman, Maarten J; Vijgen, Guy H E J; Kingma, Boris R M; Brans, Boudewijn; Lichtenbelt, Wouter D van Marken (11 July 2014). "Frequent extreme cold exposure and brown fat and cold-induced thermogenesis: a study in a monozygotic twin". PLOS ONE. 9 (7): e101653. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...9j1653V. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101653. PMC 4094425. PMID 25014028.
  13. ^ Tijmstra, Fannie; Bomers, Loes (10 June 2016). "'Iceman' onder vuur" ['Iceman' under fire] (in Dutch). EenVandaag. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  14. ^ Duin, Roelf Jan (2 July 2016). "'Iceman'-oefening eist opnieuw leven" ['Iceman' exercise claims a new life]. Het Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Coroner cautions against practising Wim Hof breathing method underwater after man drowns". CNA. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  16. ^ "RAPHAEL METZGER VS WIM HOF, ET AL". UniCourt. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  17. ^ The Rise and Fall of the Wim Hof Empire, retrieved 29 June 2023
  18. ^ "The Rise and Fall of the Wim Hof Empire". Scott Carney. 26 June 2023. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  19. ^ "RAPHAEL METZGER VS WIM HOF, ET AL". UniCourt. Retrieved 29 June 2023.
  20. ^ "Luke Kantowitz Obituary - Westwood, NJ". Dignity Memorial. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  21. ^ Moser, Ashley (6 July 2023). "Family urges others to have designated spotter at pool parties after father drowns". KSLTV.com. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  22. ^ "Woman tragically dies after cold water therapy session favoured by celebs". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  23. ^ "Iceman wins 26th world record as he runs up Mount Kilimanjaro in just 31 hours and 26 minutes". Daily Mirror. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
  24. ^ gekogekogeko (26 April 2023). "Let's talk about Wim Hof's "World Records"". r/BecomingTheIceman. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  25. ^ "Wim Hof: The Iceman | Guinness World Records". Retrieved 21 November 2023.
  26. ^ "Fastest half marathon barefoot on ice/snow". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  27. ^ a b "Longest swim under ice - breath held (no fins, no diving suit)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  28. ^ Hof, Wim (2012). Becoming the Iceman (1st ed.). Mill City Press. p. 33. ISBN 9781937600464.
  29. ^ Science Explains How the Iceman Resists Extreme Cold. Smithsonian Mag. January 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  30. ^ Sunday, Alex (29 December 2010). "Dutchman Aims to Take Longest Ice Bath". CBS News. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  31. ^ "Longest duration full body contact with ice". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  32. ^ Kathmandu (29 May 2007). "Everest climber falls short". The Age. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  33. ^ "What Doesn't Kill Us by Scott Carney". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  34. ^ "The Superhuman World of Wim Hof: The Iceman". YouTube. Vice. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  35. ^ "BECOMING SUPERHUMAN WITH ICE MAN - Wim Hof". YouTube. Yes Theory. Retrieved 21 April 2023.

External links[edit]