Wim Hof yells a lot.
We are supposed to start our Wim Hof Experience at 9:30am.
But Wim can’t hold himself back from a ready audience. And at 9:17am he jumps out on stage. He cheers the crowd, runs around, and yells. The crowd cheers back.
As a public speaker, Wim Hof is incredible.
Not so much because of his perfect cadence or beautifully crafted narratives. In fact, his English is not perfect. And he is prone to losing this train of thought.
Wim Hof is an incredible public speaker because he speaks from his heart. He projects so passionately, and with more energy than most, that you think he just might self-combust one day and turn into a star.
He is just as likely to launch into a scientific diatribe about cholesterol as he is to pick up a guitar and lead the crowd in song.
We did both of those things. And we also sat in an ice bath for two minutes straight, much longer than I thought was possible.
Afterwards, I felt incredible.
These are my notes from the Wim Hof Experience, also called the Wim Hof Method Weekend, that took place in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday, 18 Nov 2018.
Wim Hof Method Weekend NYC 2018
Here is the handout that we got after registering:
Notes from Introduction
For the first few minutes, Wim talks to the audience.
His co-host comes out, who I forget the name of. (Maybe Matt Soule?)
The co-host speaks perfect English, with a clear train of thought. His remarks are prepared. He outlines what we hope to accomplish today. I appreciated the balance versus Wim’s wild speaking nature.
They play a video showing large, sweeping vistas filmed by drone. It’s not clear what these shots have to do with the Wim Hof Method.
The video abruptly stops. Wim announces: “I have to take a picture for my Facebook! Come, now, everybody, put your hands up.”
This type of transition early in an event would be so awkward, so out of place among a more “professional” speaker. But it is par for the course with Wim.
We help him take the picture.
A new video starts to play. It shows scenes like this, of people doing fantastic feats in cold weather:
The video stops. We cheer because it is inspiring. The idea of doing so much physical activity in cold weather and cold water is exciting to us.
Wim begins a slide show with nice pictures.
Here, he does not so much present the slides as watch them along with us.
Standing on stage, he turns his back to the audience so he can see the imagery and tell us about each image.
“EVEREST!!” Wim yells. “WE DID IT!! Me without a shirt, and him without his hands.”
He gets a lot of applause from this line:
“We believe the body can heal itself! And not that these companies that profit off of our sickness, these drug companies.”
He clicks through more slides, enjoying the imagery and giving us varying amounts of entertaining commentary.
It is important to note that the slides have very limited or no narrative arc. Wim’s commentary is entertaining and follows the general arc of “Me and my students do amazing things.”
I’m not hating here. I’m just saying: Wim’s introduction is the opposite of prepared. He says that, too: “The program is- THERE IS NO PROGRAM!” And because Wim has so much energy and such a stage presence, it works.
Here are some of his direct words that I typed on my iPad during his introduction:
We were made by nature, after millions of years, equipped to be in control 100%. The brain is the seed of the mind. That is where the spirit is sitting. Struck by awe. The miracle of life. THE INEXPLICABLE SOUL!!
Pollute the oceans. Exploit the nature. Today I want you to grab the key, which we will provide. There is no program, that’s the program. We will unravel together, in a party mood, the inexplicable soul- and live it.
I want to end up in the science of the soul Let me in, maintain the order here.
At this slide, above, Wim goes into a Maasai people tribute… sort of.
The English, they colonize the world. The only people in Africa they could not colonize was the Maasai. Because they don’t have religion. Maasai say, there’s a lion, we have to kill it. Lion sees you as a beefsteak. They learn, by nature, Mother Nature, how to live in peaceful coexistence with nature. For thousands of years.
Now, they begin to fence the locations where the migrations happen. All the animals (Wim names a dozen animals) are moving. Bring water, water is power. New project is called the Garden of Eden project.
Then it is time for a song.
Song with Wim Hof
I first saw Wim Hof speak at a Tony Robbins Unleash The Power Within event in 2017. “Speak,” again, is a loose term. He talked, he did splits, he played the guitar, he sang. He is an absolute unit. It was great. Much better than Dave Asprey, who also spoke.
Wim picks up a guitar on stage. He tunes it. Then he plays us a song. We’re all standing, and cheering, in tune with the music. It is great. I wish he would have played another song later in the day.
Military and PTSD and Wim Hof Method
After the song, a United States Marine named Brett Carson comes on stage. He is telling a powerful, emotional story about his duty as an Officer.
Had a bad injury and after service was taking Advil, Aleve, other many other medicines. Was diagnosed after service with depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.
“I’m happy to say after starting the Wim Hof method I am completely off all drugs.”
By going into an ice bath, you are going into that panic situation. If you can go in with your head held high and learn how to relax, to take control of your mindset, you can take that information and translate it into any area of your life.
The ice bath is an amazing training tool. It is also a metaphor.
Before you go in, I want you to ask yourself: what is your ice bath?
Graphic: Wim vs Everyone Else
This image was on screen so long that I felt I had to acknowledge it.
Wim comes back on stage now. He introduces Professor Pierre Capel, who talked a lot about cholesterol and why it is OK to keep eating lots of eggs. He also talked a lot about other scientific things, which he is very smart on.
Professor / Dr Capel was my least favorite speaker of the whole day. Especially after lunch. Overly scientific, boring, etc. I’m sorry that I didn’t take more notes of his slides.
Another guy comes on stage (maybe this was Matt Soule?) and we did breathing exercise and as many push-ups as we could with no air.
I liked doing this exercise! I did 28 push-ups with no breathing.
Dr. Trisha Smith
She was my favorite speaker of the day. Here are some notes that I took from her speech:
Focus steers your energy.
Consistency is the key to success in anything.
Why have a breath practice?
- Energy Production
- Counteract Modern Environment
- Staving off altitude sickness
- Keeping respiratory system healthy
How to do your breath practice?
- Before food
- 3 Rounds
She uses a separate space in her home with: Weighted blanket, pillow, lavender oil. This is her meditation zone.
I just learned that lymph nodes “places you have to squish” because it is a passive system, so in armpits, knees, etc.
Wim Hof Method Breathing Exercise
Dr. Trisha Smith sets us up for the big breathing exercise of the day. She tells us what may happen when we do this.
- Tingling / Lightheadedness / Loom
- Hand / Foot / Face Cramping / Spasm
- Emotional Release
- Tightness in Chest or Neck
She led us in the warmup breathing exercise, which was basically breathing in, breathing out — for 30 times. Big, strong breaths. And then for the last breath, breathe OUT completely and entirely … and hold our breath for a long time.
Wim’s Facilitation of Breathing Technique
Then Wim took the stage and led us in breathing. It was an intense huffing and puffing session with nicely matched tribal background music and of course a lot of Wim yelling.
I went into a deep trance, feeling like I had some emotional release. I felt tired but then when I got up I felt alive!!
It was hard to stand up, I felt very woozy. Had to stand up slowly, in stages. Then I felt like I had electricity running through my arms. It felt awesome!
We stood up and we yelled and hooted and hollered!! Everyone was cheering. It was intense. It was incredible.
Then we went to lunch.
There were two lunch options. I picked the one with rice and falafel. The falafel was terrible. The worst falafels that I have had in my life. The rice and the broccoli and the beets, however, were delicious.
- I enjoyed my lunch conversation with three other people.
- Guy, mid-50s, works in security, lives in Midtown West. Has a sauna in his home.
- Guy, mid-40s, Also has a sauna. Big listener / fan of Ben Greenfield.
- Woman, maybe mid-40s? 4 kids. Heard about this from someone at her church.
Part 2: Science
I’m saying this with as much love and respect as I can, but this was the worst part of the day. Many people in the audience “zoned out” after 40 minutes to either take a nap or play on their phones.
I did like this slide:
Ice Bath Experience with Wim Hof
Here it is, the main event! Spoiler alert: I loved it. You should definitely attend this workshop, if only for this.
We were led to the ice baths based on the color of our wristband. There was a lot of safety preparation beforehand, such as:
There was a lot of talk here, but honestly, I was so excited and listening that I didn’t take many notes.
Pictures of Ice Baths
THIS WAS AMAZING. I loved it.
I can’t believe that I stayed in for the full 2 minutes.
I loved having all of the coaches there. “Smile!” they would tell us. “Breathe out through your nose. Smile some more!” I couldn’t have made it all two minutes without everyone else there with me. And I think it was the coldest water that I’ve been in.
Afterwards, I wasn’t cold at all. My body felt alive and warm. It’s hard to describe, and I’m not a good writer. But I would do it again in a heartbeat.
We came back inside, we did the Horse poses that Wim loves to help us get warm again. And after about 5 minutes of that, with some dancing, we dried off and put our clothes back on.
Critique of Wim Hof Experience
- The largest critique that I have is of Professor Pierre Capel. I thought his presentation after lunch was particularly and painfully boring. I wish it was deleted.
- Instead of Professor Capel’s speech, it would be neat to do some icebreakers with other attendees to meet people. I enjoyed those that I met at lunch and hearing their health tips and hacks (like always drinking water with salt and lemon as soon as they wake up).
- Wish we could have the chance to do a second ice bath experience, after the first one. I think I would have even paid $20 on the spot to be able to do this a few minutes afterwards while I was still in my bathing suit.
- Check-in process took a long time.
- The lunch food was delicious, except for the “main” course of falafels. If you eat especially clean or get hangry when you don’t eat, bring some snacks or your own food.
- I wish there was more music. Wim’s team could take some notes from how Tony Robbins uses pop music breaks to spike the room’s energy.
It was great. I would do it again. I recommend it.
I paid around $219 for my ticket because I registered late, while others paid around $150 with early bird pricing. The VIP ticket, for a little bit more, allows you priority check-in and first into the ice baths. It was sold out but I’d probably buy it if it was available.
The audience felt masculine and muscular. Almost all of the guys that I saw were more muscular and fit than me. I want to be in more rooms like that! So I can get more swole. There were certainly women attending, but I would estimate it was at least 85% men.
This is the end of my review.
Have you done a Wim Hof Experience? Or heard him on a podcast, and tried his breathing exercises? Let me know in the comments.
UPDATE 2019 March 1 — I just got this on email from someone who attended Wim Hof in London:
I just attended Wim Hof in London weekend and was looking for current reviews. Your NY experience mirrored London, although I think London has been cut down a bit to half-day.
I was thinking though, they should speak to Tony Robbins’ team to get more energy in the room. Then I read your feedback and can see where you are coming from.
I found Wim to be great when playing or leading the breathing exercises, but he did waffle on a bit. He had some great lead instructors. However, I think in the end, the app/online course teaches you everything you need to know. I had no real benefit to attend, unlike a Tony Robbins show.