TIL: How to take a cold plunge

cold plunge pool sunken into a wooden platform

Honestly, I was interested in trying a cold plunge because I have been watching way too much of Limitless starring Chris Hemsworth. On the show he’s constantly pushing his body and mind with new challenges. Could I also train my mind and body to adjust to a new mental & physical stress situation? Totally straightforward right? Yeah, I’m a weirdo.

Because of this wild idea, for the past 4 months I had been looking up ways to install a cold plunge tub on my balcony, and the decision always came down to… am I really going to spend 2k+ on something I’m not sure I’ll even use regularly?

The opportunity to test my resolve of this random endeavor came last week. I was at this vegan retreat (yes, I said vegan- long story for another time) and they happened to have a cold plunge pool. The plunge pool was set at 37 degrees. Having just finished the second day of hiking I was sore. Pro-athletes use the plunge pool to reduce the inflammation that occurs when putting stress on their bodies- so naturally this will help me as well. All this and then hearing that one of the other guests had stayed in the plunge for 4 minutes motivated me to do it.

So after dinner one day when everyone disappeared to their rooms, I attempted it. First session with the water up to my neck lasted 10 seconds before the hyperventilating started. OK awesome … so maybe I don’t want to buy this. Tried again after spending some time in the sauna. Second time, was able to control the breathing, but then could only stand it for 30 seconds. Bah. Time to give up for the day.

The next day in the afternoon, I was chatting by the pool with Sandra, the exact guest who had the 4 minute record of the group. She was saying she’d go with me. We get to the pool and then I find, she only puts her lower body in the water.

All of this is giving me flashbacks to Easy Rider.

I decide I’m going all in again, and while I’m shivering uncontrollably, Sandra does the nicest thing by timing our endeavor and reading me her emails. She reads me an email about the latest Veronica Beard deals that she just got. It just so happens that I love Veronica Beard, so as she continues I’m pretty captivated by how she describes what jeans fit her best, and what she’s currently looking for and we chit chat about the things we like and dislike about the brand. I’m suddenly much calmer and the shivering has taken a pause as I listen to her soothing voice.

The alarm sounds and we go to the jacuzzi to warm up. Sandra has taught me that distraction is the key and for that I am grateful. We go back and forth a few more times before I have to go to another class.

Cut to Friday, and I’m hanging out with Courtney and Nick by the pool in our free hour. I hadn’t had a chance to talk to them too much throughout the week so it was really nice to catch up. We’re comparing graduation years when Courtney says something to the effect of, “Oh I graduated middle school in 2007.” Ded. Now I’m feeling pretty ancient. LOL.

We switch topics to itchiness since we were all massacred by mosquitoes from the hike the day before, and obviously my answer to this was the cold plunge. I was reading the night before, in a fit of insomnia induced by all the bites, that icing the inflamed areas help reduce the swelling and the impact of them.

Courtney mentions she’s still a bit afraid to try the cold plunge, when Nick jumps in and says he’d do it with her, and heck I jump in as well- because if I didn’t sleep the night before because of all my bites and I really want to see if this will help reduce the swelling. Off we go.

I set the timer on my watch, and Nick and I hop fully into the tub while Courtney goes halfway. I now know to slow my breathing and chit chat with them both to keep them and myself distracted. Courtney hits her 1 minute mark and is out. I challenge Nick to stay in the 4 mins with me and he agrees. He’s beginning to breathe much faster and he’s surprised by how unaffected I am. At minute 3, just as the day before, I start shivering. This process has become familiar, and at 4 minutes we’re all out.

We all have to run over to the sound bath class, but the effects of the plunge was such a trippy feeling. While lying on the yoga mat, I could trace the warmth trickling out from the center of my body to the extremities. The sensation was such a natural high.

I’m not sure that it helped me sleep that night, but I’ve booked a day at our local cold plunge spa, and now I’m invested to see how I install one in my house again; this time with the knowledge that I love how it feels.

This whole experience reminded me that there are some things that are just easier when you do them with other people believing that you can and distracting you along the way.

P.S. the next day Nick and Sam beat the record 4 mins with a 7 min record.

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