Can you believe it?
There is a Meetup Group in Boulder, that jumps into the freezing waters of the Boulder Creek, on the regular — Every weekend in fact — Saturdays from 10 to 12pm Mountain Time at Eben G. Fine Park on 101 Arapahoe Ave.
It sounds like the perfect thing to do this summer, doesn’t it? It is July 19, 2019, at the time of this writing and it’s way hot out there, right now!
But these Boulder folks jump in the water in the wintertime, too.
“Why on earth would you do that?” you ask yourself in shock.
It’s actually all thanks to WHM or the Wim Hof Method.
If you don’t know who Wim Hof is you must not YouTube much. There he has quickly become a YouTube Celebrity even getting interviewed on The Joe Rogan Podcast.
Maybe you need to subscribe to the VICE channel because he’s been featured on there as well.
You see, the other “Hof” (Not the Knight Rider TV show guy who has two “ffs” at the end of his name!) has set the world record for the longest time sitting his full-body in ice and he’s done this a total of sixteen times.
Although a man in China did just recently beat him by a couple of seconds for a new record, Wim Hof practices a controversial breathing method, which is spreading fast all over the world thanks to his many YouTube vids. One of the simplest and weirdest ways his method has been described is as “controlled hypothermia.”
The breathing technique can be done to heat up the body and to last longer in cold conditions. For example, like the conditions found in Boulder Creek at the foot of the mountains.
Mathew Robins has been sitting in the creek waters since February 2019. He first discovered Wim Hof online and is now one of the leaders of this group.
On the day when YourBoulder.com showed up to check the Meetup out, we were instructed to lie down on our towel in the grass. All of us were in a circle with the rest of the people there. We closed our eyes and listened to Mathew’s instructions and he even used a hand drum during the session.
“The drum is more of something I just added,” Mathew told us later when we asked him some questions for this blog post, “that’s not normal… just the breathing.”
Mathew leads us through several rounds of deep in-and-out breathing.
Normally the Wim Hof method, if you look it up on YouTube, is three rounds of breathing in-and-out, heavily, thirty times. Then, at the thirtieth time, you hold your breath for as long as you can, then let it out and start another round of thirty.
We did some standing squats, for blood flow in our legs, after the breathing and we also did some movements that looked like Tai Chi with our arms.
Then it was time to jump in the freezing water of the Boulder Creek, baby!
We wore some plastic water shoes specifically made for stepping on creek bedrocks to make this event more comfortable, but otherwise we waded in with just a bathing suit and there, right before we reached the current, we all stood in a circle, holding onto each other’s backs, which actually helped because it made sure we all stayed in the water for five minutes total. This way the freezing water gave us all the most benefit because cold water immersion is known to be particularly good for any inflammation you may have in your body.
Mathew instructed us all to breathe while standing in the creek. We even did a yell or tribal grunt, like we were Vikings or warriors or something, fighting the cold of that water like we were!
The five minutes ended and we got out. People were shivering and lips were turning blue.
Several of the group members went back to doing standing squats and some started jogging around the park to warm back up.
One member of the Meetup named Matt told YourBoulder.com he’s been doing the method for about four or five months. He even comes out to the creek at other times during the week to take a sit in the cold water.
Then there was a potluck for everyone. We all indulged in guacamole dip, some kombucha, and cantaloupe.
“I heard about Wim Hof a fair while ago,” Matt told us. “I moved a lot in the last eight years and whenever I move somewhere new, I just look up a bunch of new stuff… Maybe, like a new sport and I read a bit of Tim Ferris stuff, he does a bit of cold immersion, so I thought I might try it and then I saw there was a group and that was cool, you know… but man I love it. I’ve got a lot of benefits like just felt like it cleared away a lot of bad emotional experiences from the past. It felt like I just let a lot of stuff go in the water, like particularly when it was cold enough to get a survival kind of trigger.”
Matt further explained the sensations and feelings he gets from cold water immersion to us.
“You know, could I die here? That seems to trigger, like a lot of really powerful elements and chemicals because I notice after that, I would like feel indestructible and I started working on my own little goals and projects.”
We also got to talk to Stephanie Small and asked how the experience affected her.
This is powerful on so many levels, like seeing that you actually can do it and the power of the group supporting you and connecting to the water.
YourBoulder.com also asked her what she would tell someone who has not done cold water immersion before in case they wanted to try jumping in the creek for the first time, too.
“The first minute is very uncomfortable,” she said, “and then it’s like, Ahhhh!”
Ryan Roe came all the way from Denver to experience the Wim Hof Method at the Boulder Creek.
He said, “I’ve been kind of researching the Wim Hof technique for the past, like probably, year… Been doing the cold showers on my own. Doing the breathing exercises on my own. Then I saw this meetup and I was like, I gotta check this out, so first time here!”