Wim Hof claims cold-water immersion can help fight modern diseases. As outdoor swimming becomes ever more popular in the UK, photojournalist Jonny Weeks joined him for a weekend to experience it firsthand
Look at this beautiful tree. An oak, Quercus robur. Its yelling at us, Helloooo! says Wim Hof, the doyen of cold endurance stunts, as we head across Hampstead Heath, north London, for a swim in one of the ponds.
Soon hes catapulting himself into a gaping hole in its trunk, peeping out excitedly like a child. Here I am, talking to the tree, he beams. I see the tree has personality. I go in. We are one. Its alive. We are alive. Is that crazy? Bloody crazy! Yes I am.
Best known for trying to scale Mount Everest in only a pair of shorts and hiking boots, Hof has broken more world records than even he can count. His feats include a near-fatal 57-metre swim under ice during which he went temporarily blind, and a barefoot half-marathon in the Arctic.
Hes also immersed himself in a tub of ice for almost two hours. Scientists have begun studying his methods to evaluate if they can offer universal benefits to people.
Live your body, stimulate your body, he implores. Arthritis, Crohns disease, psoriasis, depression all of those diseases are a result of our neglected biochemistry. We need to be stimulated to help fight disease. Cold is a great stimulator.