Stab Magazine | The 'It' Training That Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, Steph Gilmore And More Are Doing

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The ‘It’ Training That Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, Steph Gilmore And More Are Doing

This is how you train when you live in Malibu.

news // Aug 17, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Wim Hof breathing method has become the ‘it’ exercise for surfers. And, earlier today, before Laird Hamilton and wife Gabby Reece’s XPT (extreme performance training) Malibu experience – which starts tomorrow and finishes on the 19th – Kelly Slater, Steph Gilmore, and Frankie Harrer joined Laird for an “underwater morning,” as Steph called it.

The full XPT “experience” includes pool and recovery sessions at Gabby and Laird’s home. Don Wildman, the founder of Bally’s Total Fitness (the fittest man in America over 75!) hosts a beach workout. There’s also a SUP adventure, hiking, nutrition and so much more! But, if you’re in Malibu and have the $5k it costs to participate, you can’t, because the “experience” is sold out.

laird use

So, Wim Hof is a Dutch gent who’s been gaining notoriety in the surf world. He’s got Kelly (who passed out during a session), Koa and Alex Smith (who start each day off with the breathing method and swear by it), and Laird as devoted followers. Today, Steph and Frankie gave it a go, and more and more surfers are tapping this breathing exercise.

They call Wim Hof, The Iceman, since his tolerance to cold is practically inhuman. He’s renowned for “countless ice endeavours” which include sitting in a cylinder filled with ice up to his neck for 90 minutes-plus, long distance swimming beneath polar ice, running marathons barefoot and climbing Mt Everest bare-chested wearing shorts. Consistent use of the method claims to teach you how to control your nervous system and prevent disease.

In short, here’s how it works: It’s essentially hyperventilation. You lay on your back, or in meditation position, and breath 30 steady power breaths (or for about three minutes). On your last breath, you breathe as deep as possible and exhale until your lungs fill like dehydrated raisins. Until your body forces you to breathe again, hold it. Then repeat three times. After the fourth go, you flip over and do as many push-ups as you can before you pass out. Then lay back down and recover. Or jump into an ice bath as we see dear Frankie doing right here:


“Working up my ice cream headache tolerance,” Frankie. Photo: @frankieharrer

According to Wim, after the body scan of the previous exercise, you’re ready to let your body embrace the cold. It is very important to try to relax as much as you can, really be with the cold, only then can your body process the signals and start thermogenesis. As Wim says, “the cold is your warm friend!”

I did a session once with Koa Smith. As far as its ability to fight off disease, I have no input. All I can tell you is that afterwards, it releases adrenaline and serotonin. You feel a high similar to psychedelics or MDMA… no wonder people dig it.


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