May 30, 2023

There’s a new sort of Man.

There’s at all times a brand new style of Man. Traditionally, however particularly up to now 5 years, males have begun to coagulate — merge, if you’ll — round singular, unified identities that bond them in areas each actual and digital. 

We have now Video Recreation Guys. Craft Beer Guys. Reddit Guys and Jiujitsu Guys. We even have [shudder] Hat Guys. An countless procession of… Guys. In 2022, we have been launched to Spouse Guys. 

Now I might wish to introduce you to the ultimate boss of Guys: Ice Bathtub Guys.

If you happen to’ve spent any time on social media, significantly Instagram or TikTok, you should have seen this Man in his pure habitat. At 4 a.m., he emerges from his cave. He stands — often semi-naked — subsequent to a bathtub, or a bucket, or an overpriced barrel packed full with ice and water. He units up his digital camera, as a result of they at all times have a digital camera. He makes communion with this digital camera, in platitudes, concerning the grind, about successful the day, about preventing his base instincts to not get up early and partake in unhinged behaviors.

Then he plunges — totally submerged within the ice water, shivering as he vomits out extra platitudes. “Consolation is your enemy” or “callus your thoughts.” That kind of factor.

The Ice Bathtub Man has overcome his demons, he has change into stronger, he’s higher, he’s recovering sooner, he’s feeling good, he’s the grasp of his area and his thoughts as a result of he has — at this ungodly hour — clambered clumsily into this chilly physique of water and remained nonetheless for a selected time frame.

He has change into the Final Man. The Ice Bathtub Man. 

For one weird, unforgettable day, I grew to become an Ice Bathtub Man too. 

Please permit me to elucidate.

It began with chilly showers. A chilly bathe problem was my gateway drug. For everything of 2022, I used to be a Chilly Bathe Man. For 12 straight months, I deserted heat water and took nothing however chilly showers. Why? I am nonetheless not solely certain. It was an impulse factor, a short lived mind illness from which I’ve since recovered. My inner monologue urged chilly showers have been a good suggestion and I went with it. Months later, I am nonetheless unsure it was worthwhile.

My mates began jokingly calling me Wim Hof — after the Dutch motivational speaker, well-known the world over for his intense, ice-related endurance challenges. 

So in March this 12 months, when Hof — aka The Iceman — arrived in my house metropolis of Sydney to ship a collection of clinics, those self same mates thought it could be humorous (and considerate) to purchase me a ticket. A move to an ice tub seminar, hosted by Hof himself.

Like a shivering, confused Pokemon, I used to be about to evolve from an itty-bitty Chilly Bathe Man… to a full-blown Ice Bathtub Man.


Luna Park, with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background

Luna Park, with Sydney Harbour Bridge within the background

Mark Serrels/CNET

Primarily based in Sydney, inside strolling distance of the Harbour Bridge, Luna Park is sort of a Six Flags stripped again by an element of 10. 

It is a low-rent theme park, a grotesque assortment of points of interest and warped exams of ability. An establishment that holds a good quantity of nostalgia for Australians above a sure age. However in 2023, it is a warped anachronism for a unique place and time, the place hucksters and carnies reigned supreme. It additionally — bizarrely — frequently performs host to enterprise conventions and motivational audio system. 

Right here, on a boiling Friday afternoon, Hof is within the strategy of delivering a “security briefing,” pacing frantically forwards and backwards in entrance of a crowd of lots of, making fart jokes, screaming issues like “we will change the world.” 

Hof is 63 years outdated. He is a bit extra regular than I anticipated. Effectively, he’s, and he is not.

In contrast to the TikTok influencers who climb into ice baths at 4 a.m, Hof is not ripped or shredded. He is quick and stumpy, with scraggly hair and an unkempt beard. Bearing an ill-fitting T-shirt and flip-flops, he would not appear to be a motivational speaker — he appears to be like like an Aussie bloke grabbing a sausage roll at his native gasoline station. 

He is additionally bonkers. In a great way, I believe.

“The ice is your mirror,” he says, mysteriously.

The ice is your mirror… rattling.

I discovered myself swept away with the group. “Yeah!” I started considering to myself. “Ice is sorta reflective. Perhaps it may be a mirror, proper guys? Perhaps we can change the world by climbing into a particularly chilly physique of water.”

Hof simply has that vibe. 

“See you on the Ice Baths,” he shouted. He’d been onstage for 2 minutes. That was our security briefing. That is all it took for Hof to persuade me and everybody in attendance that ice was a mirror and we may change the world by leaping in.

Nearly instantly, everybody poured out of the convention corridor into Luna Park. 

Surrounded by ferris wheels, fairy floss and the faint aroma of popcorn, I used to be about to partake in my very first ice tub.

The ice tub cometh

Of all of the queues at Luna Park that day, the ice tub with Hof was by far the longest. 

The irony did not escape me. It had the identical power as ready for a curler coaster. That obscure feeling of worry. A collective, vibrant pleasure. An extended-ass await a particularly short-term expertise. Caked in sunscreen in my little swim shorts, I baked within the scorching Australian solar, inching nearer to Hof and a lot of makeshift, inflatable swimming pools — full to the brim with chilly water and copious quantities of ice. 

The largest shock was the group itself. I anticipated a potent mixture of fitness-pilled Ice Bathtub Guys and barefoot hippies clad in canvas. What I bought was totally different. There have been ladies right here — a lot of ladies. It may need been a 50-50 break up. 

A crowd at an amusement park

It was the longest queue within the park.

Mark Serrels/CNET

I bought to chatting. Could, a private coach, grew to become a fan of Hof after watching movies on YouTube and cycled right down to Luna Park between shopper conferences to strive an ice tub for the primary time. One other lady — middle-aged, cracking jokes the entire manner — was right here on a dare. This was a once-in-a-lifetime expertise for her and I think many carried the identical vibe. Weirdly, the Ice Bathtub Guys principally stayed house. 

In truth, after making it to the entrance of the queue and giving Hof an enormous hug (everybody did — a part of the package deal, I assume), I observed that each one 10 individuals in my ice tub group represented a various cross part of the Australian inhabitants. Males, ladies, younger, outdated, totally different races and backgrounds. All of us gave one another a fast look, the kind of eye contact you share once you’re about to embark on one thing completely silly.

After which, collectively, we climbed into the ice tub.

It was… chilly. Clearly. However a unique sort of chilly. The kind of chilly that makes your physique really feel prefer it’s on fucking fireplace. Hof’s main space of experience helps his college students breathe, and, climbing into this ice tub, I instantly understood why. It was extremely exhausting to inhale and exhale usually on this state. Instinctually, I believed taking lengthy deep breaths would make it simpler for me to acclimatize, but it surely did not assist in any respect. 

The one factor that basically made issues extra bearable was respiration out. I picked a degree within the horizon to gawk at and stared into the void, ready for the 2 minutes to finish, so I may clamber out of this frozen hellhole and stay the remainder of my regular life in peace.

However then, within the remaining 30 seconds, a fever dream. Hof grabs a microphone, or a megaphone. Perhaps it was the uncooked energy of his personal voice pushed to its limits. He started chanting, screaming at full blast like a call-and-response preacher:


Everybody, in unison:




We chanted like males. Baha Males. After which it was throughout. We climbed out of the ice tub, wrapped ourselves in towels. I felt… OK? Relieved. Proud? Perhaps. I discovered myself laughing. This was hysterical. Each single a part of this was hysterical. For now, the curler coaster was over.

The King of Ice

Historical past is suffering from examples of human beings forcing themselves by way of unimaginable, torturous rituals. In Papua New Guinea, males minimize elaborate elongated patterns into their again, chest and buttocks to suggest their coming of age. Some tribes, together with Indigenous tribes right here in Australia, practiced unspeakably brutal circumcisions. Many of those traditions have been designed to ingrain an intense bond of belief in members of the tribe. If they may bear the ache of fingernail elimination or tattoos or penis mutilation, they may very well be trusted with the secrets and techniques of the clan. 

Perhaps ice baths are a particularly tame model of that very same impulse. That, or a warped mixture of junk science, placebo results and poisonous masculinity.

I’ve two sons, ages 10 and seven. Throughout my 12 months of chilly showers, each thought it was humorous to additionally take chilly showers, to see who may keep within the longest, attempting to outdo one another. My 7-year-old as soon as stayed in for quarter-hour and — hilariously — began calling himself “The King of Ice.”

A man in a bathtub, his young son looking on

Being bullied by my children. Like at all times.

Mark Serrels/CNET

However once I bought house that night time, it was my 10-year-old who was most excited once I instructed him concerning the ice baths. He wished to see if he may final two minutes like I did. That weekend, temps in Sydney hit 100 levels Fahrenheit. Driving house from a good friend’s celebration with my son, I finished to get petrol and had a sudden mind wave. 

“Ought to we purchase some baggage of ice and make an ice tub at house?”
My son’s eyes lit up. It was on.

We bought house and made a makeshift plunge pool in our bathtub and took turns getting in, screaming and laughing hysterically. It wasn’t as chilly because the Hof tub, but it surely was nonetheless bloody freezing. A healthful, innocent kind of torture that (I believe) breeds a little bit of resilience in children. He climbed into the chilly tub and sat there for 2 minutes regardless that it was extremely troublesome. He nonetheless, nonetheless, refuses to eat broccoli.

However I did ask myself: Why are we doing this? Why am I kind of encouraging it? A fast “are ice baths okay for teenagers” search on Google allayed preliminary fears, however bigger questions started to hang-out me. Am I breeding the subsequent era of Guys? A brand new wave of boys partaking in pointless (typically painful) actions to fill a gaping black void of validation?

My youthful child — the so-called King of Ice — was on the retailers with my spouse. I referred to as them on Facetime and instructed them concerning the ice tub. My spouse agreed to seize just a few extra baggage of ice on the best way house so we may put son No. 2 by way of the brand new household ritual.

“Alright,” I instructed my 7-year-old on the cellphone. “Let’s have a look at who the actual King of Ice is.”

He was fired up.

However later, when he bought house, he appeared much less enthusiastic. He dipped his finger in cautiously, attempting to get a way of what he is likely to be in for. He was extraordinarily reluctant.

“You go first, Dad,” he stated.

“I’ve already gone in,” I replied.

“If you happen to go in, Dad, I am going to go in. Pinky promise.”

I felt as if I had no alternative. I needed to lead by instance. To show that you might (and typically ought to) do troublesome issues. We pinky swore on it. Then, like an entire fool, I went again into the bathtub.  

This time spherical it was chilly. Correctly chilly. Simply as chilly because the ice tub at Luna Park. My limbs seized up; each ligament and bone ached. I made noises, ungodly noises. I used to be in hell. My son, cackling like an unhinged Demogorgon, discovered this extraordinarily humorous. 

Lastly, my two minutes have been up. I clumsily scrambled out of the bathtub, nonetheless in bodily ache.

“Your flip,” I stated, my physique nonetheless shivering.
“Nah,” he replied. “I do not need to. 

He left the toilet and fired up Roblox on his Nintendo Change.

“What do you imply?” I cried, chasing after him, a crumpled, damaged outdated man.

“I am good,” he stated lastly. This boy wanted no validation. He had no void to fill.

“You will be the King of Ice.”

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