Book review: The personal story to complete the puzzle piece

“The Wim Hof Method” by Wim Hof

“The cold is merciless, but righteous.” By now anyone who’s reading this must have recognised Wim Hof, have watched his shenanigans and his brilliance, or sometimes both in a space of less than 1 minute.

While “What Doesn’t Kill Us” by Scott Carney did a tremendous job on analyzing the science behind the Wim Hof Method, this autobiography completes the puzzle piece by adding the personal touch that gives the why behind the what and the how.

And Wim Hof’s personal story match the larger-than-life character, from his first encounters with the cold at age 7, to his bicycle trip with his twin brothers from Netherlands to Spain, to living freely in a squatter area, to a whole chapter dedicated to his late wife and the struggles they had living with 4 small kids with no money and odd scrap jobs just to get by, and a depression in his wife’s part. It’s deeply moving and this vulnerability is what makes him relatable as a human being, the Clark Kent to the Superman.

Wim Hof acknowledges 3 pillars for his method: the cold, breathing, and mindset. And on each one of them he took us in a journey of his discovery, through trial and errors, through skepticism even ridicules, through borderline “freak shows”, through so many lab tests that finally confirm the science behind his madness. Indeed, the science part is still very much exist in this book, where the “Iceman” shows a high degree of understanding on the workings behind his method as well as its effects on our brain and body.

When it comes to teaching the method, however, it gets pretty repeating. I understand that there’s a need to reiterate and reconfirm so that the lessons will be remembered, but this made the relatively simple method into somewhat complicated for novices unfamiliar with it. Even Wim Hof himself acknowledge that “[b]y now you probably think I sound like a broken record, and perhaps that is so. I don’t care” but he reasoned that “[r]epetition is the mother of learning, and I’m banging the drum.” Moreover, the flow of the book is not necessarily linear, and every once in a while you’ll find bits and pieces jumping from one chapter to another only to reappear again in the next chapter.

All in all, the book is chaotic and a little messy, but filled with so many touching stories from him and those who have implemented his method, and the narration always accompanied by how to adapt the Wim Hof Method in any given situation. Yes it is repeating at times, but that only guarantee that the lessons of the book will surely stick in our minds and we will left feeling excited to implement them. I expect nothing less from a book written by the free-spirited man himself.