COME rain, hail or shine, you’ll find them sitting in a tub of ice every weekend at South Beach in Fremantle.
Some might call them masochists, others just plain crazy, but they are part of the “Breath and Ice” group, formed two years ago by Fremantle local Florian Obst.
The group start with a 30 minute breathing exercise to prepare for the ice bath, which is purported to have numerous health benefits including reducing inflammation and swelling, boosting the immune system, increasing metabolism, providing a cardio workout and improving mental health and resilience to stressful situations.
Obst got into icebaths because of legendary “Iceman” Wim Hof, a Dutch extreme athlete and motivational speaker known for his ability to withstand low temperatures.
He created a method combining frequent cold exposure, breathing techniques and meditation, and previously held the world record for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice.
“I first came across Wim Hof in a documentary on YouTube five years ago,” Obst says.
“I was fascinated by all the records he broke, all related to cold exposure. He also practiced a certain breathing technique, which I was curious about. I tried his breathwork and started with cold showers every morning.
“Then three years ago, I participated in a Wim Hof method fundamental workshop in Sydney, where I also had my first icebath. That first icebath was an amazing experience, and as runner I felt the anti inflammatory benefits straight away. Since then I was hooked and joined other icebath groups every weekend.”
But when Obst moved from Sydney to Perth, he couldn’t find a local icebath group, so he started “Breath and Ice” in South Fremantle.
“I wanted to get like-minded people together who are lookingfor a mental and physical challenge,” he says.
“We meet all-year round, in every weather condition, every weekend, alternating between Saturday and Sunday.”
Ironically, Obst works as a coffee roaster in Bibra Lake, serving hot drinks to people all day (maybe he needs a warm-up after all that ice).
If you fancy trying an icebath, check out the “Breath and Ice Fremantle” page on Facebook or email Obst at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s donation based and you just need to bring along two or three bags of ice.
“I always take time for first timers, and happily guide them through the experience,” Obst says. “Everyone is welcome.”
by STEPHEN POLLOCK