Jordan Ferrone Set a Goal: 100 Ice Baths Over 100 Days. A Year Later, He’s Still Going.

A conversation with the cold plunge king, who started the ritual to improve his mental health

January 14, 2024 12:15 pm
Jordan Ferrone sitting in a freezing ice bath. He's done a cold plunge every day for over 365 days.
What happens when you take a cold plunge every day, hundreds of days in a row?
Courtesy of Jordan Ferrone/Getty

Jordan Ferrone has battled depression since he was a teenager. He’s seen therapists and doctors, and been prescribed medication, but admittedly hasn’t really followed through. Part of the problem was that all of these interventions felt too passive for Ferrone, who grew up playing sports.

“I’m very competitive and stubborn in a sense — just not wanting to listen to other people,” Ferrone told me. “That’s gotten me in quite a bit of trouble in the past.”

When his daughter was born in 2016, he took a more active role in his mental health. He stumbled upon Wim Hof, a prominent proponent of ice baths. Busy raising an infant, Ferrone tried cold showers here and there, which helped. Unfortunately, like many people in the world, he started to struggle again during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s when he knew he needed a hard reset. So he started doing ice baths.

Falling under the official banner of cryotherapy, ice baths typically take place in water that is 2 to 16 degrees Celsius (35 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit), and last for one to three minutes, though some take them for 15 minutes at a time. They  have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression in multiple studies, by releasing endorphins and potentially increasing heart rate variability, which is linked with greater resilience to stress.

In December of 2022, Ferrone realized he had everything he needed to feel better in his Winnipeg backyard: “Mother Nature gives you all the cold you can handle.”

Over a year later, Ferrone continues to take daily ice baths outside in the freezing Canadian cold, documenting them on social media for upwards of 920,000 followers on Instagram and over two million on TikTok. But Ferrone never intended to go viral. Posting about his cold plunges was mainly a device to keep himself accountable. 

“In my first video I say I’m going to do an ice bath every day until the Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl,” Ferrone, who often wears a hat celebrating his team, said. “If you’re a Lions fan, you know that day will probably never come.”

In other words, Ferrone doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. And while he’s cautious about preaching ice baths as a cure-all for complex mental health issues, committing to something challenging for over 365 days in a row has improved his life in a number of ways.

InsideHook: What made you decide to go from occasional cold showers to daily ice baths?  

Jordan Ferrone: In 2016 I headed down a path of personal development, and cold showers were certainly a part of that. Exercise and working out was definitely a part of it as well. During the pandemic I wasn’t taking care of myself, so I got back into health and fitness. That’s when I decided to start doing ice baths.

What made you decide to put it on social media? Was it having a career as a videographer prior to that, or something more?

I can’t explain that. I’ve always enjoyed creating content and been way better at doing that for other people. I always felt very awkward putting myself on camera, so that was new. But I don’t know why I wanted to record it. I really had no expectation of it taking off the way it has, or even sticking with it as long as I have. But as I was doing it, I guess you could say I was finding myself again, and finding confidence within myself. In being able to do that, I was able to find a purpose by inspiring others, not to take ice baths, but to be better than they were yesterday. That was my mission, to help people feel better and to realize that their thoughts and feelings don’t define them.

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You mentioned being an athlete growing up. Do you think this mindset made ice baths more appealing to you than, say, talk therapy, because it’s a physical challenge?

I think you’re right. I grew up playing hockey until I was 19 years old. I’ve always been a competitor at heart. To this day, I’ll compete in anything — even if it’s golf with my friends, I always want to win. That’s the nature of my mindset, and kind of odd coming from a Lions fan who’s suffered for years. I find it pretty ironic for someone who enjoys winning to love a franchise that’s had so many past losses. But that’s just part of my fiber, my DNA. I just always believe I can do it. 

A lot of people who workout for the good of their mental health might not consider ice baths. How does exercising every day compare to cold plunging everyday?

You’re doing something that you don’t want to do. You have very little motivation to get up at four in the morning to go to the gym. You have very little motivation to get into freezing cold water. But the delayed gratification, or that feeling that you get afterwards, and knowing that you’re able to overcome something that you thought you couldn’t do — that is something I wish everybody could experience. 

For a lot of people, struggling is a lack of belief that they actually can do it, and this is how you start to stack up some wins and build momentum. Then that voice in your head that says you don’t want to do it gets a lot quieter because of those gains and everything you’ve achieved in the past. It builds confidence that you can do that, and that has gotten me out of a lot of dark places.

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How has it helped with your mental health?

I’ve really steered clear of talking about benefits in the content I make because I think everyone who has experienced anything that is a physical and mental challenge — it’s going to be unique to them. So I by no means want to preach that ice baths are going to cure your depression or anxiety, because in all likelihood they won’t. 

But what it will do is get you out of your head for that moment in time. It’s hard to think of the bills you have to pay, the job that you hate, the relationship that isn’t working out. It’s hard to think about all of those things when you’re suffering, whether it’s cold water or any other form of a challenge. It’s not a magic pill, but it is a step toward knowing you can have some relief. You can learn that what you’re feeling doesn’t have to consume your life. That was the biggest benefit for me, just knowing that there’s more to life than the negative thoughts that I have. 

Can you speak to the wider community of ice bathers online?

It’s certainly something that has helped motivate me and provide some accountability. In turn, I think it’s done that for some of the people consuming my content…knowing they’re not alone. I’m practicing what I’m preaching. It’s powerful to have people support you and know that you’re not alone, especially when you’re talking about mental health. That’s probably one of the biggest culprits of suicide in men — so many of them thinking that they don’t have another out, that they don’t have someone to talk to, that their problems are unique to them. So the community aspect hasn’t just helped me, there are people out there that have befriended each other in the comments section, or just read through comments of people going through the same thing. It gives people a little hope to continue on. 

Are there any drawbacks to putting this on social media? If so, how do you keep yourself from being “too online”?

I wouldn’t say there are drawbacks. This is only a small portion of my life that I’m showing on camera. I’m showing three to six minutes of my life. There are a lot of other things I’m doing throughout the day that I personally chose to not show. There are a lot of things I keep private. But the things that I think will add value to other people’s lives and have an impact on them, I’ve chosen to get those messages across. 

Do you have any advice for someone curious about trying cryotherapy? For instance, would you say ice baths better than cold showers?

For cold immersion itself, for me there’s no “better” way to do it. The fact that you’re doing it at all, that’s enough of a challenge. The benefits are there with a cold shower or an ice bath. I think a cold shower is sometimes a lot harder than an ice bath, just because you’re not getting water on your body all at once. An ice bath, you get in there and it’s done with. A cold shower is like, “It didn’t hit my back yet and now I have to turn around? This kind of sucks.” Obviously the water doesn’t get as cold, but it’s painful. They’re both a tough physical and mental challenge, so in my mind there’s no better or best way. I would say that if you’re curious about ice baths, cold showers are definitely a good entry point. First, because they’re low cost, but also it’s going to be a way to ease into an ice bath, which brings much more of a shock factor.

Does the shock factor ever go away with practice? Or do you not want it to go away because the shock triggers the benefits?

It sucks every time. But just looking back at my old videos at 20, 30 or 50 days ago, I was breathing really heavily. I haven’t gone to the doctor to see if I’ve gone through any physiological changes since I started doing this, but there is a noticeable difference now in the way that my breath is controlled after doing ice baths for a year. So something is happening there…I just can’t tell you what. After 40 or 50 days, I said, “I’m going to intentionally try to control my reaction when I get into the ice bath.” 

Although I wanted to gasp and breathe hard to make that pain go away, I tried to control it. I think that has made it easier over time to not have that shock. It’s easier to talk, it’s easier to breathe, but it still sucks. It’s still cold. I still feel it, not only physically but mentally. I’ll still stand over an ice bath for 20 or 30 seconds and the hesitation kicks in. There’s no day where I want to get in this thing. 

Is doing it every day important, and if so how important?

I’m not going to sit here and preach taking ice baths everyday. When I first started doing cold showers, I wasn’t doing them every day. But I think there is something to be said, both on the mental and physical side. On the mental side, you’re callusing your mind, you’re staying sharp. You’re not mentally taking days off where you feel too comfortable. I never want to get comfortable where I feel like I’ve done this so many times and deserve a break. That’s probably the competitive side of me, I always want to be at the top of my game. I don’t want to miss a day. It hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure it will happen eventually. But anything I can do to get in there every day, I will do. On the physical side, if you were to take a couple of days off I’m sure you’re going to revert back to some of those “day one” feelings where you start gasping and it becomes harder to get back in that groove. 

What are your plans for the future? Now that you’ve reached a year, is there any plan to stop?

There’s no plan, I just keep saying I’m going to do it again until tomorrow. Initially I wanted to get to 100 days, and once I got to 100 I figured I could probably get to a year. I don’t have any intention to stop, unfortunately. I have a portable unit for times I’m up at the cabin. I do have things on the schedule next year that will take me away from home. I anticipate not having an ice bath around and I’m OK with that. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it for a year, and I’ve done that. 

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