TREND: Baby It’s Cold: Ice Plunges & Cold Therapies Are on Everyone’s Wishlist

The pandemic and its threat to global health accelerated our fascination and experimentation with any practices that promised to build resilience, combat stress or improve immune functions. One of the hottest therapies to come out of this happens to also be one of the coldest: extreme, ice-cold, whole-body immersion.  

The concept of cold plunges, ice water swimming and cryotherapy was gaining traction among certain extreme wellness seekers long before the pandemic. In fact, in 2017, the Global Wellness Summit featured a lively keynote by Wim Hof (aka “The Iceman”) and predicted that the fascination with cold and ice would begin to go mainstream in its 2018 “Extreme Wellness” trend. A trend that proved true as we watched the “Wim Hof Method,” a practice combining breathwork with cold temperatures to build resilience, find an enthusiastic group of followers using cold immersion not only for physical health, but also as a way to feel present, mindful and more alive.

With cold already getting hot, the pandemic accelerated Wim Hof’s message and helped introduce the power of cold to a new and expanded audience, making cold water plunges and ice baths de rigor among fitness and wellness seekers. This enthusiasm has created a new market for cold treatments – from cryotherapy to at-home ice baths to natural cold plunges.

Though you can easily practice cold immersion at home by simply adding ice to a bath or taking a very cold shower; new products are being introduced to better serve this growing market, offering temperature consistency, sustainability and sanitization. Companies like Ice Barrel, Plunge, Blue Cube and Renu Therapy are serving this burgeoning marketing and touting celebrity users like Gwyneth Paltrow, Lizzo and elite athletes. 

The founder of Blue Cube, Thomas Schiffer, dubbed the race to win market share as the “cold wars” in a New York Times article, saying he believes cold plunges will be as “ubiquitous as the Jacuzzi.”


The Trend in the News

Hot & Cold Therapy Is About to Be Accessible To The Masses: How To Get In On It MindBodyGreen Lifestyle

MindBodyGreen’s 2023 trend forecast includes a deep dive into why “good stress” is good for you, including the benefits of hot and cold therapy for recovery. “If you've spent your whole life trying to avoid stress, it may be tough to wrap your head around the idea of running straight toward it.”

The $4,990 Ice Bath– The New York Times

A look at the various creative ways cold-plunge devotees are introducing freezing ice baths into their practices: from the celebrity trainer who converted a chest freezer into a makeshift cold plunge to the slew of manufacturers introducing off-the-shelf cold plunges that cost anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000, and the experts who suggest a Postmates ice delivery to use in your own bathtub.

Cold-Plunging with Maine’s “Ice Mermaids”– The New York Times

Inspiring look at the women embracing natural cold plunging in Maine. The group, founded by a Swede who grew up with the practice of saunas and cold plunges felt compelled to share her culture with her community and feel connected to her homeland.   

I Tried The Ice Barrel’s Cold Therapy Tool & Now I Like Ice Baths– Bustle

A review of the $2,000 Ice Barrel and a look at the results the reviewer got from using it. Spoiler alert: she likes it but is not sure it’s worth the splurge unless used regularly.  

How Dipping Into the Cold Has Become a Hot Trend Boston Globe 

For millennia, humans have avoided plunging into cold water. Now they’re paying good money to do it.

You’re Not a Polar Bear: The Plunge Into Cold Water Comes With Risks– American Heart Association 

The American Heart Association warns that sudden immersion in water under 60° F can be dangerous, encouraging those looking to take the cold plunge to do their due diligence before jumping in.

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