Hotel entrepreneur Tim Grant, 42, has been passionate about fitness for most of his life, whether it’s cross-country skiing or triathlons, and all the while he’s been using a strange home remedy as a treatment for end of the day: an ice water bath. “They help with recovery to perform better the next day,” says Grant. “More recently, I have done this to promote immune and nervous system response and control. It’s to de-stress. »
He improvised them in countless ways, from ice-filled bins – much deeper than a conventional bath, and therefore easier to submerge – as well as diving into cold seas in winter. Finally, however, Grant has found a ready-made product for his home in Putney, west London: Monk, an in-home ice bath unit which will be launched in the new year.
Ice water baths and baths have become common in recent months. Lockdown fitness titan Joe Wicks has installed a hot tub in his backyard, complete with a copper ice bath, as a stress-busting device. Basketball legend LeBron James and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey have both touted the benefits of ice baths. Harry Styles swears by one on his current tour and, of course, alternative therapy advocate Gwyneth Paltrow has also vouched for them.
Wim Hof, a Dutch entrepreneur who promotes ice baths, has just run a BBC reality show, Freeze fear, which beat celebrities through a series of sub-zero challenges. A wacky waste collection company, Divert, even offered to rent out their plastic containers for £10 a week (ice not included).
Anyone who wants to install a unit at home, however, is not limited to the new Monk. Plenty of rivals are already on the market, each with enticing, even challenging names, including Dreampod, Renu, and Morozko Forge. Such models can cost up to $19,000.
Monk aims to stand out through both its price – relatively affordable at £4,995 – and its focus on aesthetics, its design with a sleek faux concrete shell more like a high-end spa than a gimmick. a sports medicine laboratory. It’s this combination that London-based Monk founder Laura Fullerton hopes to set her startup apart from its rivals.
“It has to look super sexy, so you’re proud to have it in your home,” she says, promising Monk will use sustainable materials throughout, including making sure the product can be fully recycled when it’s finished. of its duty cycle. Monk will also eschew chlorine filtration in favor of a chemical-free process — a nod to many advocates’ all-natural preference; it will still only need a water change once or twice a year.
Fullerton first encountered the ice bath during a wellness workshop. “I hate being cold, but it was like hitting the reset button – the endorphins that followed,” she says, adding that she even once snuck into the swimming ponds at Hampstead Heath in London to quell his obsession. “I found out the hard way that the water was contaminated, because my skin itched horribly for a few weeks after that.”
His product pairs with an app that both controls bathing and trains users in breath control therapy (Wim Hof is among those who preach the power of such a practice in tandem with baths). deep cold). Monk is set to launch in early 2023, but Fullerton says she has 2,200 interested parties, including Tim Grant, as well as investments from professional athletes whose names she refuses to share, and Brewdog chief executive James Watt. .
“It seems like everyone is buying them right now,” says Scott Carney, author of What does not kill us and himself a fan of ice baths. “But there is nothing new about them.” Anyone who wanted to try ice bathing at home had to do it with a DIY version. “People have bought a $120 chest freezer from [wholesaler] Costco, and they were sitting in it after unplugging it,” he laughs. “So everything is a step forward.”
The science of these treatments is reasonably well established through widespread research into the physical benefits of immersion or controlled exposure in cold water. Dr. Rhonda Patrick, in particular, is a researcher who has specialized almost entirely in this area.
Dr. Tom Ingegno owns an alternative medical center, Charm City Integrative Health, in Baltimore. He has long used cryotherapy, or cold therapy, and plans to install ice baths in a new clinic. Ingegno simply describes the physical benefits. “When your body thinks it froze to death, there’s a massive vasodilation of the system, it’s like you’ve wrung your body out like a sponge before pumping fresh blood to the tissues,” he says.
Unfortunately, those benefits have been magnified beyond some of the most substantiated statistics in the past two years, Carney says — with some supporters taking leftist ideological stances and even promoting anti-vaccination propaganda. Ice water baths have become a staple of so-called “biohackers” who can take wellness practices to extremes. “Be aware of the company you buy from,” says Ingegno: “There’s a lot of BS out there.”
Most ethical sidekicks, however, emphasize mental benefits as much as physical ones. “The hardest thing about an ice bath is looking at it – the simple concept of getting into it. It’s hard,” Carney laughs.
It’s mental well-being that Monk’s Fullerton says is most needed: “Stress is also a veritable epidemic, and it’s no wonder people are turning to these other holistic, natural solutions given the what has happened in the past two years.”
However, the reason for the growing popularity of ice baths is perhaps more fundamental: more people are buying them because they can. The world’s wealthy have more disposable income than ever, with their bottom lines bolstered rather than diminished by the pandemic (although now, perhaps, more inclined to tighten their belts as recessions begin around the world). The rigged bathrooms are primed for another gadget to install alongside this Jacuzzi tub, Toto toilet and more.
“It’s a luxury item, and it seems like a crazy amount of money to spend to have one in your home,” says Carney. “But if you have the disposable income, why not take an ice bath?”
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