“OK, that’s chilly,” I thought as I dipped my index finger into the plunge pool.
I've never been what you'd call a cold water enthusiast. I’m more the type of person who cranks the shower temperature up to borderline scalding. But then I discovered, or rather acquiesced to, cold plunging. Talk about a paradigm shift.
On a recent visit to Harmony, my colleagues were talking up the new cold plunge pools at the Healing Centre. I’d heard a lot about this therapy, but had firmly established it wasn’t for me. I’ve always associated cold plunges with hardcore athletes (which I am definitely not). Then, I met up with a friend who, like me, said she couldn’t stand the thought of sitting in freezing water. But she went on about how happy, energized, and focused she felt after jumping in. So I got a little curious, and my mind started saying, “well if she can do it…”
The turning point came when Monica, my wellness north-star, was like, “let’s do this thing.” Pro tip: do your first cold plunge with someone awesome who also has experience with the whole process.
We started with 15 minutes in the new Healing Centre sauna, which immediately turned into an impromptu bonding session. We found ourselves sitting in our bathing suits, laughing, catching up, and that’s when I realized that this adventure didn't have to be a terrifying ordeal. Plus, the space is truly lovely. The 2 pools are beautiful, and the large windows frame a view of the greenzone outside. It feels like an inviting space to freeze your butt off.
And then came the moment of truth. I watched as Monica stepped into the cold water, took a few deep breaths, and then settled in up to her neck, smiled, and well, made it look easy. So that’s when I said "F-it" and followed her in.
Yes, it’s intense. The first moment centered around thoughts like, how on earth did someone decide this is a good idea? But, having a friend right there beside me was reassuring and actually joyful. We exchanged glances, matched our breathing, and then: enter the exhilaration. That incredible feeling of being super present, aware, intensely alive!
I managed 2 minutes. As we clambered out and warmed up, I was like, “let’s go again!” An instant convert.
For the rest of the day, like my friend before, I couldn't stop talking about the experience. I felt alert and amazing the entire afternoon. And in some way, I knew I had conquered a fear, emerging from the chilly depths feeling like a superhero. Maybe one of the lesser known ones, but still.
I’m sure the hardcore athletes and wellness gurus who do this daily without a second thought might be rolling their eyes at this little victory of mine. But I’m sharing this experience for those of you who might be curious about cold plunging, and still a little hesitant. I'm happy to tell you it was fantastic, and I'm eagerly anticipating my next visit. Plus, I learned when you share this experience with friends, it's not just invigorating, but incredibly fun.
Get in touch with the Healing Centre if you’d like to visit the sauna and cold pools. Here are the guidelines they shared that I found helpful:
Start off with a shower to cleanse yourself and ease into the practice.
We recommend beginning in the sauna for 15 minutes. As always, listen to your body, and always respect what feels best to you.
Take a cool shower to rinse off the sweat, and to prepare for the plunge.
Choose your pool and plunge!
This is where focused breathing and concentration is key: try to maintain a 6-in-6-out breath. We recommend spending anywhere between 1-5 minutes in the cold plunge, depending on your tolerance and intention for the practice.
Get out carefully! Be mindful of the steps and platform edge around the pools.
Relax, hydrate, have some tea in the lounge. Pay attention to and enjoy the different sensations in your mind and body. Spend as much time in this moment as you like.
Repeat for the rest of your session, or whatever feels best to you.