It is almost the end of January and I am in a small village in Austria. Beautiful mountain views, some snow and mildly freezing conditions. In the next couple of days, an extraordinary event is taking place. A group of 65 persons is going to challenge themselves, they are ready to embrace the cold. The challenge is organized by the Ice4Life foundation. Ice4Life has been founded in memory of Mark Bos and is on a mission to promote a healthy ‘out of comfort’ cool way of living.
So why do you want to get out of your comfort zone and experience these cold conditions you might think? Well, by experiencing the cold and focussing on breathing, people experience a reset of their body and spirit. Also, people with a wide range of diseases, are strengthening their bodies this way. They are much more capable of handling the negative effects of their diseases. This method, most of you will know as the Wim Hof Method, is gaining popularity all over the world. The goal of the challenge was to raise money in support of the foundation and of course, all the participants had their own reasons and goals to finish the challenge. The challenge in Austria consisted of: one hour of running, one hour of biking/langlauf followed by a swim in a freezing cold lake.
“We have become alienated from nature. But the cold is capable of bringing us back to what we once had lost.” – Wim Hof
As you can see in the images, all the participants were barely wearing any clothes. Good for summer but not possible for winter conditions you might think. Are humans even capable of doing this? Well, it turned out they are. The strict safety measures ensured the safety of all participants, also there was no competitive element whatsoever and everybody defined their own limits.
For me as a photographer, this event was a perfect mix of outdoor & lifestyle and a great opportunity to meet some inspiring personalities. Spending a couple of days in the outdoors reminded me again of how good it is to be out there and how healthy it is to get out of your comfort zone. Especially during the present time with COVID-19 as I am writing this journal.
During the challenge, Ice4Life also organized so-called breathing sessions and a special reflection evening. I talked to a lot of people about the benefits of breathing and meditation. Spending some days with so many inspiring personalities also changed something within me on a personal level. I gained a better understanding of our immune system and the powers of deep focussing. And I added 15 minutes of breathing and meditation to my yoga morning routine.
Feelgood Tip “When you are doing yoga or meditation in the morning. Just open your door or window and feel the fresh air getting into your lungs. Also, the sound of a bird in the distance can make your meditation session even more special”
It was a privilege to be able to shoot this challenge. As always my Fuji gear performed perfectly. For photographers, click on my Fuji gearlist below to see what I used for this shoot. Below you can find my images for the Dutch press. All words by Natasha Smit.
XF 90mm F/2.0
XF 16mm F/1.4
Mitakon 35mm F/0.95
XT-3 & VG-XT3 Battery Grip
Thanks for reading! Keep a safe distance and see you on the next shoot.