A Canadian guy ending up in Norway taking cold baths- how did this happen?

It’s a bit complicated! 😊 My Canadian wife took a job in Norway and we moved here almost 7 years ago now. When COVID hit Norway last winter and the government shut down the country I didn’t want my young children (age 3 and 6 then) to remember fear and doubt in such a time. Starting to dip in the freezing ocean was something new to me and inspiring to them. It became a family event that they thought was quite exciting and their cheers kept me going in the early days when I was in 4*C water with zero experience!

What is your reason to take cold baths?

My reasons have changed dramatically over the last 10 months of daily dipping and swimming. To start it was all about giving my children joy and hope in the midst of a pandemic. Then I saw the mental and physical changes in me from my daily practice. At this point my wife and I were going through a rough patch as well and my daily baths became a way of dealing with the pain of that. As time went on I became surrounded by and part of an international community of ice bathers on Instagram and on top of the mental, physical and emotional benefits I experienced daily a sense of fellowship grow inside me. I can’t imagine stopping at this point.

The story behind your insta name?

There is some irony in that name. When I started on March 15th 2020, I thought I was in for 2-3 weeks of dips and all this would be over. @covidicebath reflected my idea to use ice baths as a distraction from the fear of the virus spreading at the time, and my pledge of “an ice bath a day until the virus goes away” made sense but looking back I had no idea what I was promising to do! I have no plans to stop for personal reasons now, but with the current state of the virus globally I think just keeping my promise could keep me dipping for another year at least.

What do you do when you don’t take cold baths? 

I’m a professional cat herder. 😊 I have my own company and work as an international consultant keeping track of commercial fishermen and their fishing activities. This benefits them, the managing governments and society in general. I also have my own fishing boat here in Norway.

And your barrel, it’s not in use during the winter? Do you have a sketch ✍🏻 of the barrel to share?

I am extremely lucky and live right on the ocean in Arendal, Norway so have unlimited 10*C or less seawater from October to May. My barrel only has to get me though the short summer season here so water from the garden hose and some ice added daily keeps me in water 10-13*C. I’m handy enough I built it myself one afternoon without any drawings 😊 and keep promising to add the construction details as a highlight on my Instagram page- I just need to find the time! The good news is that anyone with basic carpentry skills can build one themselves and there is a special joy in using something you made yourself over a plastic rain barrel or wheelie bin.

There is a lot of talk about time and temperature in cold baths, what are your thoughts?

Probably the most important is that this is a personal experience, not a competition. Secondly, how you feel the temperature has more to do with your personal state than the water you are in. I have shook and suffered for 10 long minutes in 16*C water because I was not in a good state mentally or emotionally that day. I have also sat peacefully and calmly for 7 minutes in 1*C water. Both of those are the personal experiences of someone who does this daily and I wouldn’t recommend either to a new person! To start, just stay long enough at any temperature to get your breath under control- you now have the full physiological benefits. After that, the 1 minute per degree Celsius rule is excellent. As you become experienced your body will tell you the right time to get out and it will change day by day.  It is this connection between mind and body, learning yourself truly and deeply  that is one of the biggest benefits of a regular habit of cold baths and something I would recommend to everyone to develop. The world would be a kinder, happier place.


If you don´t follow Jay already: @covidicebath