Brand new reality show Freeze the Fear airs on BBC One this Tuesday, with extreme athlete Wim Hof bringing his methods for enduring the cold to our screens.


The six-part series, hosted by Holly Willoughby and Lee Mack, follows eight celebrities as they face daunting challenges in the sub-zero conditions of the Italian mountains.

From ex-footballer Patrice Evra and presenter Gabby Logan, to Strictly Come Dancing's Dianne Buswell and The Masked Dancer's Tamzin Outhwaite, the famous faces will be facing their fears and plunging into chilly waters in a bid to emerge happier, healthier and stronger with the help of Wim Hof. But who is the Dutch motivational speaker?

Here's everything you need to know about Wim Hof, why he's famous and what his method is.

Who is Wim Hof?

Wim Hof in 2007.
Wim Hof in 2007. DEVENDRA MAN SINGH./AFP via Getty Images

Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete and motivational speaker who is best known for being able to withstand freezing temperatures and is nicknamed The Iceman.

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His fascination with the cold began at the age of 17, when he felt an urge to jump into freezing water whilst walking through a park. However, he only began to explore the benefits of embracing the cold after the death of his wife in 1995.

"The children made me survive but it was the cold that brought me back to life. It healed me," he said. "Instead of being guided by my broken emotions, the cold water led me to stillness and gave my broken heart a chance to rest, restore, rehabilitate. That is the message I want to share."

Since 2000, he has broken several world records by swimming the furthest under ice with a distance of 57.5 metres, running the fastest half marathon barefoot on ice and snow, and for the longest time in direct contact with ice, his record being one hour 53 minutes and two seconds.

He has written five books, including 2020's The Wim Hof Method, 2012's Becoming the Iceman and 1998's Climbing in Silence, and claims that through his method of withstanding the cold, which involves cold therapy, breathing exercises and commitment, it's possible to "become happier, healthier and stronger".

Since rising to fame, Hof has appeared in an episode of The Goop Lab as well as This Morning, Sunday Brunch and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

What is the Wim Hof method?

Wim Hof in November 5, 2019 in Hamburg, Germany.
Tristar Media/Getty Images

The Wim Hof method, which Hof developed with his son Enahm Hof, is made up of three pillars: breathing techniques, cold therapy and commitment.

According to Hof, the breathing techniques lead to more energy, reduced stress levels and an augmented stress response, while the cold therapy reduces inflammation, fortifies the immune system, balances hormone levels, improves sleep quality and naturally elevates mood.

Combined with commitment and a "focus and determination to master both mind and body", Hof claims these techniques can lead to a host of health benefits.

Some scientists have criticised the method, with Professor Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt writing in 2017 that while studies show that mild cold can have profound effects on health, "whether more extreme cold, as Wim practises, may have comparable effects, still needs to be investigated".

He adds: "Wim is a wholehearted speaker, but his scientific vocabulary is galimatias. With conviction, he mixes in a non-sensical way scientific terms as irrefutable evidence."

According to Amsterdam-based paper Het Parool, four people have died whilst trying out the method, having drowned in pools of water. Hof advises on his website that those wanting to try out the method should do so whilst sitting or lying down and should "never practise while piloting a vehicle, or in or near bodies of water".

The BBC also states that Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof was filmed with strict health and safety procedures in place, under the supervision of trained professionals and a medical team.

Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof premieres at 9pm on Tuesday 12th April 2022 on BBC One. Check out more of our Entertainment coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.


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