I’m sure many of you reading this, like me, absolutely hate being cold. There’s just something so scary about shivering and getting wet. For me, I hate when I’m in the shower and the hot water runs out, or when I’m camping at a festival and the temperature suddenly drops at night.
But some actively seek out the cold – taking advantage of the myriad health benefits it brings.
Among them is Tom Parry.
Tom is an osteopath and medical acupuncturist based in Suffolk. For the past seven years he has run his own health and wellness practice in Hintlesham – Hyntle Barn Clinic.
“We are a team of practitioners – ranging from osteopaths, masseuses and podiatrists to Pilates and yoga instructors. We basically spend our daily lives taking care of people’s physical health, helping them understand their bodies better in order to take care of themselves,” he explains.
Tom has been working as a fully qualified osteopath for 14 years – but only a few years ago he discovered the Wim Hof method.
Backed by years of research and science, the method is a combination of exercises that aim to reconnect the body with its natural ability to heal, adapt and survive.
Wim first developed the technique three decades ago – focusing on extremely cold practices that take the body out of its comfort zone, such as ice bathing or swimming in cold water.
“The method is based on three key principles: the work of breathing, the cold and the state of mind”, explains Tom.
“Individually they are all quite powerful entities – but combined they really work wonders. The work of breathing is all about affecting your physiology and body chemistry. It helps by reducing inflammation and pain.
“With the cold it is a eustressor, which means it puts positive stress on your body. Going into the cold you are using a low dose positive stressor on the body which causes a hormetic response and , in turn, challenges your body. This causes adrenaline and cortisol to spike, and essentially, you rev up your body.
“And the mindset part is to use these techniques regularly and see how they can transform your life.”
The Wim Hof Method has recently entered the mainstream, thanks to the extreme athlete’s recent show, “Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof”, which sees him training eight celebrities to endure a series of challenges in lower temperatures. to zero.
“I first heard about it on a podcast in 2017, and for me it was about understanding the natural way you can help influence your body,” says Tom. “It really piqued my interest, as it aligned with the principles and values of osteopathy, and I wanted to see how I could use it to help my own patients.
Eager to learn more, Tom traveled to London and attended his first Wim Hof workshop. From then on, his life changed.
“It was the first time I saw the impact of the power of breathing and cold.”
Tom dabbled in his new teachings at home, before moving on to the next stage of his journey.
“Shortly after, I applied to do my advanced training at Wim’s House in Holland. The idea behind it was to find out what I could learn to help patients. But I hadn’t anticipated how much it could do for my own life – and it was a real turning point for me.
“After that weekend, I realized I had to share it with others and teach them.”
Tom applied for his instructor training in February 2019, which took him to new extremes.
“I found myself in Poland, shirtless, wearing only shorts and boots, climbing a mountain for three hours. It was all part of the training. I spent six days learning more about breathing, cold therapy, mindset work, as well as taking a series of exams.
Fully qualified after his time in Eastern Europe, Tom brought the teachings of Wim Hof back to Suffolk with him – and hasn’t looked back.
“For three years I have been teaching the Wim Hof method to different companies. I also teach individuals and groups here at my clinic. It has become an essential part of the practice because its appeal is so widespread.
Teachers, suicide survivors, MMA fighters, and current and former members of the armed forces are just a few of the people Tom has taught.
“People come for their own reasons, but there are often common threads that run through a workspace. It’s a space where people can share their experiences and stories, as a way to better understand each other. And in the end, people walk away with this simple and effective tool that they can use in their everyday lives to help them feel healthier, happier, and stronger.
So how does a Wim Hof workshop work?
People will arrive at Tom’s practice, where he will first explain the history of the method and what it involves.
Then it will guide you through the work of breathing, before it’s time to step into the cold.
“Sometimes people come alone, or with friends and family, or they’ve read about it and they’re curious, or they’ve tried a little themselves at home. But no matter who walks in, everyone is still nervous about the ice cream.
“But when they finally do, they all say ‘is that it?’ easier than they expected. Once you learn the breath, you learn to surrender to the cold.
The Wim Hof Method has been proven to reduce both stress and anxiety. And for Tom, he finds that really helps bring people into the moment.
“If you’re in an ice bath, I challenge you to think about that email you didn’t send or what you missed on the weekly shopping list. When you’re out in the cold, it gives you the ability to be free – and that’s what people find most powerful.
“We spend a lot of time in our heads, and the idea is that these three pillars help you connect to your body and allow you to be present and calmer. And the beauty of it is that you can keep in your back pocket and do it anywhere on the go.We all deserve to be happy, healthy and strong, and this is a simple tool to help people do just that.
Tom recommends starting small if you’re trying the at-home method.
“The next time you take a hot shower, before stepping out, turn it to the coldest setting and breathe in it. Let the breath relax you and go from there. You will soon notice a positive change.
“The Wim Hof Method website and app also has a good step-by-step, to help people understand it.”
However, it is not recommended for pregnant women or women with heart problems or epilepsy.
To learn more about Tom’s work, visit livelongltd.com