This past Friday, me and 30-odd other Instructors were at the Wim Hof Method Center in Stroe, for the New Year’s reception. There is a pile of shoes at the door. Wim is playing his pink guitar; there’s people sitting on the floor; hugs being exchanged; grown-ass people playing hand-clap games. Rookie Instructors cannot contain their excitement as they share their plans and ideas for workshops with the more veteran teachers. A lot of knowledge and insight is exchanged, and then Wim gathers everyone for an update on the latest research. Seeing this amazing, laid-back atmosphere, and feeling the energy and that distinct Hof vibe, took me back to where this all began.
Rewind 18 months, to July 2016. I’m on a plane to Barcelona, about to join the Summer Expedition. I’m very curious about the method, and about the man himself: Wim Hof. The past couple of weeks I’ve been taking short cold showers, but haven’t quite gotten the hang of the breathing technique yet. I did some runs to get ready for the mountain. but why? I’ve injured myself hiking more than once. Who am I kidding? I don’t like the mountains, I’m a seawoman!
I start to get a little anxious. I’m envisioning a lot of very healthy, sporty people, and I would consider myself more of a party girl— I love to dance! Despite being a certified yoga teacher, I like a glass of wine, or a beer, every now and then. I’ve also picked up smoking again, and am kind of questioning why I’m even on this trip…
Of course, my worries were all for naught. Straight from the jump, I feel right at home. There’s people from 14 different countries, with ages ranging from 19 to 70. There are entrepreneurs, a couple of engineers, a chef, a gun manufacturer, a retiree, a yoga teacher, a fireman, the list goes on. There’s an incredibly relaxed vibe, and it doesn’t matter what you do, where you’re from, how fit you are, or what you have accomplished. We are only there to have fun. No dogma! Wait a minute. Does that mean that despite my not perfectly healthy lifestyle, I can still become a Hoffer?! Oh yeah!!
It’s the first day, and I’m already taking my first ice bath. It feels amazing! Every morning, Wim talks about the science behind the WHM, and the research that’s being conducted. He’s serious and passionate, but keeps things light by randomly sprinkling in jokes: “Have you heard about the elephant?!!”. The breathing sessions are intense. I’ve never experienced anything like it. During the hike up the mountain, the only advice is to keep your own pace, and listen to your body. There’s no pressure to get to a certain point at a certain time. Even the guys from the Hoffice are “only” going halfway up.
A second hike is cancelled because of a snowstorm. Instead, we decide to cook together: a big barbeque for 35 people. There are big salads; paella; whole chickens and jacket potatoes. Everything is cooked and baked with the fireplace and oven we built with our own bare hands from boulders in the riverbed. We eat together at the riverside, and dance around the campfire deep into the night. Everything is surrounded by a magical atmosphere of people, caring for each other and enjoying life.
I have been practicing the Wim Hof Method ever since. I quit my job, worked for the Hoffice for a while, and am now a WHM Instructor. The Wim Hof Method brought me a lot: it deepened my understanding of the mind-body connection; I got properly out of my own head for once; worked through some tough personal issues; lost all of my excess weight; and I quit smoking. Now, “no dogma” to me means: positivity. The focus on what you can do, instead of what you shouldn’t do. And as a result, being surrounded by free spirits.
Today, gathering with most of the Dutch WHM instructors, again I can feel how much of the Wim Hof Method is the tribe and its camaraderie. Maybe you too have experienced that the breathing is more intense when practiced together; the cold is easier to cope with when you’re surrounded by the wolfpack; and the parties are better when dancing together ;) The connection contributes to the experience. Happy hormones flying around— the vibe of the tribe.
Within the WHM community, you will come across people of all walks of life, of all ages, with different paths and objectives. This is echoed in the WHM Instructor community. It doesn’t matter what you are looking for, or what you are trying to gain from the method— enhanced sports performance; improved health; helping you fight or cope with a mental or physical illness. Maybe for you it’s braving the cold; getting rid of an addiction; coping with pain; or maybe it just feels good…
The WHM is for everyone, and for everyone there is a teacher waiting to help. What would you like to accomplish or discover? Are you looking for someone that can help you with that? Someone that gets your vibe? We are waiting with arms open wide.
Welcome to the tribe.
Bineke is a certified WHM Instructor.