We Dip Whistler group dives into colder creek waters this summer

The successful ‘We Dip Whistler’ Facebook group has garnered more than 400 members in the last few months, with a group cold plunge held every Monday for those brave enough to take on Whistler’s icy waters. Making friends and getting the week off to a great start is the name of the game.

The dedicated group went from strength to strength over the winter months, plunging into Whistler’s frozen lakes. The welcome change in weather of late means the gang is moving onto the next challenge: chilly Cheakamus River.

Founder, Laura Douglas, has seen first-hand the benefits cold water has on the body. She was excited to start the club after certifying as a Wim Hof instructor last year. Named for the extreme athlete dubbed “the Iceman,” the Wim Hof method combines breathing, cold therapy, and commitment to help people connect more deeply with their bodies.

The method can also be used outside of the icy waters, Douglas said.

“Using your breath is the key to staying grounded. It can really help people with panic attacks and anxiety disorders,” she said. “It also takes your body to different states of consciousness. It gives you a great release of emotion. It’s also great for athletes and people who have to acclimatize in the mountains. Wim Hof climbed Mount Everest just using his breath. He didn’t use any extra oxygen or anything like that.”

Douglas said watching new friends bond every Monday evening has made the club incredibly special.

“I’ve been enjoying bringing people together,” she said. “We never know how many people are going to come.” There is no expectation for newbies eager to find out what the fuss is all about, she added. “Just turning up is amazing. Connecting with others is one of the reasons why people keep coming,” she said. “There is no expectation to even get in. You can watch and see what happens. Even if people want to dip a toe or a finger in, that’s OK!”

The teacher from England is looking forward to cooling off over the summer months in Whistler’s waterways. “There are beautiful waterfalls and pools. It’s freezing,” said Douglas. “I feel like it’s colder than the lakes in the winter.”

Douglas sees many health benefits in the practice. “When you go into the cold, all of your body heat goes to your organs,” she said. “It’s basically training your cardiovascular system. It also increases metabolism. I think the most important one is that it increases endorphins. You just feel so good afterwards. It’s the main reason why people enjoy it.”

People also report mental-health benefits from the weekly plunge. “All you have to do is focus on the breath,” said Douglas. “You are surrendering to the cold. Your body is panicking, but the minute you embrace it and relax, it just feels so good. You realize you are going to survive it!”

We Dip Whistler is open to anyone who would like to try something new or simply cool down after a long work day. Douglas is also hosting a workshop on the Wim Hof method at ALGN Whistler on Tuesday, May 18 from midday to 4 p.m.

“The workshops include ice baths, breathwork and learning about the benefits of the breath,” she said.

Roisin Cullen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Pique Newsmagazine