I Took an Ice Plunge Yesterday and Lived to Tell the Tale

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m a comfort-seeking creature. I like big fluffy socks and warm blankets and hot tubs. Yet, I took a 3-minute ice plunge in a 33-degree tub yesterday…and I liked it. 

How did I end up so far out of my comfort zone? 

Last weekend, Two Six Head Coach Josh Hildebrand became Missouri’s first XPT Certified Coach Affiliate. And yesterday, he kicked off Two Six Breath and Exposure with a soft launch demo class.

Josh will be sharing more about the benefits of hot/cold exposure and breathwork on the blog and social media, so keep an eye out for that. 

Today, I am sharing my experience so that you know what to expect from a Two Six Breath and Exposure class. 

Why Did I Agree to an Ice Plunge? 

I don’t know about you, but I came out of 2020 feeling a little worse for wear. 

I was just getting my feet under me as new owner of 26 (and coordinating the purchase of a new gym home and move) when the pandemic hit. 

In addition to running a small business and helping three kids through remote learning, I had a surgery that left me on crutches for 14 weeks (and unable to train with any semblance of intensity, which is my way of relieving stress). 

I don’t think my injury and stress levels are unrelated. I’ve written in the past about stress, allostatic load, and injury (see: The Importance of Rest and Recovery for Injury Prevention).

Now that I’m mostly recovered, I’m being even more proactive about stress management and recovery. So, the launch of Two Six Breath and Exposure couldn’t have come at a better time for me! 

What Was the Class Structure? 

Josh began our Breath and Exposure class with a whiteboard, just like we do in our group fitness classes. 

During the whiteboard, he explained the class structure and a bit of the science behind the XPT protocols. 

Then, Josh put us through the body oxygen level test  (BOLT test), which involved exhaling and then holding the breath until we felt the first natural impulse to breathe. 

My baseline time was 15 seconds, which is classified as “poor” on the BOLT scale. 

As Coach Josh explained, a low BOLT score leaves you more susceptible to symptoms of poor breathing, including brain fog, gut dysfunction, sleep issues, tiredness, poor circulation, mental health disorders, and other health problems. 

After we assessed our baseline BOLT scores, we took turns on the ice plunge portion of the class. Josh gave us the option of fully submerging or going in just to the clavicle (I chose the latter). He challenged us to stay in for at least 15 seconds, but no longer than 3 minutes.

Josh coached us to breathe through the discomfort, and our classmates provided encouragement along the way. 

After we toweled off and changed into warm clothes, Josh guided us through something he called Exploration Breathing. At the risk of oversimplifying it, we practiced inhaling and exhaling at different tempos to bring about different feelings in the body. 

We finished our class by retesting our BOLT score. To my surprise, I doubled my time! 

But How Did it Feel? 

I won’t lie, I walked into the class feeling nervous and apprehensive. 

In the days leading up to the soft opening, I told Josh I’d go first because I was comfortable with the ice plunge…but I think maybe I just needed to get it over with. 

To my surprise, I felt incredibly calm in the ice bath. Thanks to Josh’s coaching, I was able to last the full three minutes and only really noticed feeling cold after getting out of the bath. 

It’s difficult to describe the sensations I felt during the breathwork. I’d done some box breathing, so I know that protocol mellows me out. But near the end of our exploration breathing, Josh led us through two breathing techniques called power breathing and fire breathing. 

At some point, Josh came over and asked me if I was okay. The simple answer is, I was more than okay. I felt buzzed, in the best of ways. 

Breath and Exposure guru Wim Hof talks about getting high on your own supply, and I now understand what that means. I felt tingly, and giddy, and oddly emotional. 

It was an amazing day and a truly powerful experience (and, as a bonus, I slept better than I had in ages).

Will I Try it Again? 

So, would this comfort-seeking creature take another ice plunge? 

Um, HECK YEAH I WOULD

I’ll be the first one on the list for the next Two Six Breath and Exposure class. 

Care to join me? Click here to stay in the loop on future Two Six Breath and Exposure events. 

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