Lessons from Wim Hof "The Iceman"

In conversation with Oman’s Wim Hof Method certified instructor Thomas Kleefeld


Lessons from Wim Hof "The Iceman"

In conversation with Oman’s Wim Hof Method certified instructor Thomas Kleefeld

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Fondly referred to as The Iceman, renowned extreme athlete Wim Hof has been defying the boundaries of human physiology for years. Inspired by nature's elements, he has earned several world records for his extraordinary capacity to endure icy conditions. Through his rigorous resilience training, he has developed the groundbreaking Wim Hof Method; a trinity of controlled breathing exercises, cold exposure, and a focused mindset.

Set against the backdrop of Oman’s rugged coastline, The Wim Hof Method Fundamentals Workshop at Jumeirah Muscat Bay is a chance for you to explore the true potential of your own mind and body. The workshop is led by Wim Hof Method certified instructor Thomas Kleefeld, whose physical health has significantly improved since practising the Wim Hof Method. His journey serves as an inspiring testament to the power of this technique.

Below, Thomas shares how he taught himself to walk again following a life-changing injury, the numerous health benefits of the Wim Hof Method and why Muscat is a wonderful destination to host the workshop.


1. You've called Oman home for the past 17 years. What first drew you to the Middle East and Oman specifically?

My journey to Oman began in 1988 after a global voyage with the German navy. A connection with my commander, who was involved with the Omani Navy, first brought me here. I returned in 2006 to open and manage a dive centre in a five-star resort. Over time, the charm of the country, its people, and nature attracted me, turning a professional opportunity into a deep love for Oman.CONTENT meditation


2. The Wim Hof Method is usually associated with ice, snow and freezing temperatures. How did you first discover the Wim Hof Method in Oman?

My first encounter with the Wim Hof Method came through a recommendation by Michelle Riordan Moroney, a former dive student of mine who owns a yoga retreat in Ireland. After a debilitating back injury left me relearning to walk, I started daily practice of the Wim Hof Method breathing technique. Within a month, I was walking; two months saw me running on the beach, and by the third month, I was back on my surfboard. This journey exemplifies the transformative power of the Wim Hof Method.


3. What was the most positive effect you experienced from the Wim Hof Method?

The most profound impact of the Wim Hof Method was on my mental health. Transitioning from an extremely active lifestyle to a point where I couldn't even walk was deeply depressing. However, the breathing exercises provided me with hope and reignited my zest for life. After practising this method daily for over a year, I added ice baths into my routine, which further accelerated my recovery and overall well-being.


4. When was the first time you tried an ice plunge?

My initial ice plunge was a thrilling experience at the North Pole The journey started from Kamchatka and traversed the Arctic Sea above Russia. Despite being in excruciating pain for one minute and 24 seconds during this first plunge, I now comfortably spend three minutes in an ice bath.

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5. What role does breathing play during the ice bath?

You learn through the breathing technique; to focus your mind, to set your mind to have control over your emotions, over the signals which are fired by your nerve receptors and you're able to control stress. Immediate stress is caused by the ice. Your body doesn't want to be there but you choose mind over matter–controlling yourself and saying, “I can do this.” There is no magic. You simply realise that you are capable of so much more than you think you are.


6. The Wim Hof Method centres around breathing, cold exposure, and your mindset -- why is breathwork such an important part of the Wim Hof Method for optimising our health?

Breathwork is a crucial part of the Wim Hof Method as it directly impacts our health on a cellular level. Our bodies, made up of approximately 30 trillion cells, require essential elements like oxygen, water, and regulation. While most of these processes are automatic, conscious enhancement of our breathing can significantly improve our bodily functions.

The Wim Hof Method does more than just boost our respiratory system - it also trains our cardiovascular, endocrine, and lymphatic systems. By providing an increased supply of oxygen and more effective waste elimination, we enable our bodies to heal, transform, and optimise themselves.



7. What positive impact does breathwork have on your brain?

Your cerebral fluid, which flows around the nerve strains around our spine, also receives some of the benefits from breathing because there is pressure asserted. This entire movement of respiration trains and helps our body.

The Wim Hof Method breathing primes our body and it helps us overcome stress. It also helps us release stagnant areas in the form of emotional blockages and helps us to feel relaxed and able to heal.


8. We are warm-blooded mammals - why is exposing our bodies to ice cold temperatures beneficial for our health?

In our modern, comfort-focused lives, we often overlook our inherent ability to endure and thrive under stress. Our bodies are built to respond to 'hormetic stress,' beneficial stress that arises when we push our physical limits.

Whether it's lifting heavy weights or embracing cold temperatures, these challenges activate an ancient resilience within us, strengthening our cardiovascular system and bolstering our defences against diseases. Beyond physical resilience, these trials foster mental fortitude, a testament to the transformative power of willpower that has been part of our human legacy for millennia.

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9. How do people usually react to the ice bath experience?

The big one is of course the ice challenge–which also soothes our ego a little bit. Moments ago, you were struggling to stay in the ice after your reflexes kicked in, but there is always a moment when you realise that you are in control–your mind controls your body. You cannot believe what you've just accomplished.


10. How do most people feel after the ice bath?

Most people have a huge smile on their face. That also has to do with hormones being released. There are several being released, including endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin, opioids, endo-opioids, endocannabinoids, which are important for fighting cancer cells, and of course the adrenaline gives you a big kick.


11. Is there anything about Jumeirah Muscat Bay that makes it a particularly special place to practise the Wim Hof Method?

Well, I live next door on the other side of Gisa Bay–it's absolutely stunning. You just look out to the ocean and the island. You can find all four elements of earth, water, the mountains and the air all there.

You can smell the scent of the ocean, hear the gentle waves in the background and feel the shade from the palm trees so it's paradise for the senses. There are many ways to enjoy the surroundings - you can try stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkelling, and hiking up the mountain.


12. Which part of the workshop do you think is the most powerful for your participants?

It's clear the strongest impact, the “aha effect”, is after the breathing when you go into a bliss state. It's like drifting in a dream state and afterwards you feel fantastic. It's very powerful. Breathing is very powerful, not to be underestimated.

With a balance of expert guidance and serene nature, you’ll embark on a journey of self-discovery, leaving with practical tools you can integrate into your daily life. To join our monthly Wim Hof Method Fundamentals Workshop at Jumeirah Muscat Bay, please contact our concierge team who will be happy to book your experience.