Altrincham resident Angela Bentley took the plunge during lockdown – and saw her anxiety “melt away”. She tells Helen Dugdale how it turned into a new business
Open water swimming has grown ten-fold over the last few years. The benefits of spending time in cold water are promoted on social media most days, as are the health benefits that come from it.
As well as boosting the immune system, improving overall fitness and being great for relieving stress, it’s something that families and friends can do together. Best of all, you don’t need to live by the coast to be able to do it.
If you’re not convinced that plunging your whole body into cold, open waters is for you – then Altrincham resident Angela Bentley, otherwise called The Ice Warrior, runs a business teaching people how to harness ‘the power of cold’ while at home.
Simply taking a short daily shower in cold water and adopting a special breathing technique can help people reduce their post-pandemic stresses, balance their hormones and get both physically and mentally stronger.
After leaving behind the corporate world and running several of her own businesses, Angela stumbled across Wim Hof at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020. Known as the Ice Man, Hof is a Dutch motivational speaker who is known globally for introducing the world to The Wim Hof Method, a combination of breathing techniques and cold therapy to help people connect more deeply to their body.
Angela tried his method for three weeks and quickly saw for herself the benefits of this unique breathing technique and spending time in cold water.
“It was like putting an Alka-Seltzer in a glass of water – my anxiety just started to melt away. I initially focused on the breath work then introduced cold showers before moving on to cold baths. I find it quite meditative. I’ve always been interested in natural healing, and I now have a shed in my garden where I do my daily practice.”
Most days, if Angela doesn’t have time to go to a lake, she’ll have a cold shower for 2-3 minutes or spend time in her small pool in the garden.
“By putting myself in the cold every day, I’m facing my fears head on. It’s fearful going into a cold shower. If you face a tiny bit every day, you’re building up the strength nerve in your brain which helps with creating mind over matter.”
During the numerous lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, people started to notice a difference in Angela.
“I started talking about how great I was feeling from what I was doing with cold water and friends started to ask me to show them how to do it. From there, I started to research the science behind it all and decided to train to become a Wim Hof Instructor.”
To learn more about Angela and The Ice Warrior, visit theicewarrior.com. Photos: Angela Kunawicz
Five freezingly good swimming spots near Altrincham
- Sale Water Park – run by Open Water Swim UK, with swimming available from April to September. Visit openswim.org.uk
- Salford Dock 9 & Boundary Water Park Uswim – organised by Uswim, these are two great places to go for a dunk. You can also take an introductory course in cold water swimming. See uswimopenwater.com
- The Farm Club Pickmere – one-hour open water swimming sessions are available from just £7, as well as other swim courses. See thefarmclub.co.uk
- Wildshore Delamere – for experienced swimmers only (minimum age 13), with wild swimming sessions unsupervised. Visit wildshoredelamere.co.uk
- Alderford Lake – a 14-acre spring lake near Whitchurch. Daily, year-round open water swimming for first-time and experienced swimmers alike. Visit alderford.com