Plenty of method behind ice bath madness

First there was the hot tub trend, then the pizza oven phenomenon, and now ice baths are popping up in backyards across the country.

According to the founder and creative director of Landart, the award-winning landscape design company, Matt Leacy, ice baths and small plunge pools (which can be turned into ice baths) are quickly becoming the ‘must-have’ feature in the outdoor living spaces he creates.

“Ice baths continue to grow in popularity, and I’m now getting regular requests to include them in designs,” he says. 

“Whether it’s in permanent form, or something that can be used more in an ad hoc occasional way.”

Matt says he’s also a big fan of ice baths on a personal level.

“My wife, kids and I are active, and ice baths are a great way of helping bodies recover from exercise…so they say,” he says.

“However, I find them really useful for lifting my mood, it is impossible to not be in a better mood after an ice bath.  

“If I’ve had a heavy workout, or we’ve gone on a big hike or bike ride there’s no better way of healing tired muscles than an ice bath.”

In the real estate sector, former top agent and now highly-sought coach Claudio Encina is an ice bath enthusiast, singing the chilly practises praises for its ability to refine, refresh and reinvigorate his mindset.

“It (ice baths) really helped me understand what being in peak flow in life was all about,” he says.

“And what I meant by that is, being in peak flow is controlling your mind. 

“So when you go into an ice bath your mind is running a hundred miles an hour, your mind is freaking out so the first thing was learning to control and slow down your mind. 

“So when other things go upside down in life, it’s taught me how to manage my mind at that time.”

Claudio says taking ice baths, or winter swims, has also helped him learn to control his breath, which is another useful tool for agents to be able to operate in their ‘peak flow’.

Claudio Encina in an ice bath.

When someone enters the freezing water, the body’s natural response is to start gasping for air, but Claudio says being able to control your breath means you also lower your heart rate and stop panicking.

“So what happens when you get the phone call that says you’ve lost the listing? We tend to hyperventilate and go, ‘What the hell? Why did I lose it?” Claudio explains.

“Ice baths helped me learn to control my breath and I can use it at other times in the same way.”

Claudio admits that for many people, real estate agents included, taking an ice bath would be something very outside their comfort zone. 

However, he says pushing yourself is where growth occurs.

“When I started as an agent 27 years ago, cold calling and door-knocking were outside of my comfort zone,” Claudio recalls.

“When we’re outside our comfort zone, the first thing that usually comes up is fear. Fear of rejection and fear of being in an ice bath that’s so cold.

“But what’s on the other side of fear? Courage.

“When we get out of our comfort zone to take courage, there’s also something else that we face – that’s pain. 

“The pain of being rejected, the pain of the unknown, the pain of doing 50 calls a day and getting through 50 calls or 30 door knocks a day when it’s 35 degrees outside. 

“But at the same time, what’s on the other side of pain? Freedom.”

Claudio says the first time he did an ice bath he was lucky to be in there for 45 seconds, when you’re supposed to stay in for at least two minutes.

He says there is a level of pain when you first get in the bath but on the other side is freedom and exhilaration that then translates to real estate.

“The freedom of, ‘Oh my god’, I got through two hours of door-knocking today and I picked up two leads and maybe a potential seller. That’s freedom,” Claudio says.

Claudio now has an ice bath about every two weeks and even has his own ice bath, although he admits it’s not the fanciest one out there.

He says he puts 60kg of ice into the bath to bring the water temperature down to between zero and two degrees.

“The whole idea is you sit there and you close your eyes and you’re controlling your mind, you’re controlling your breath, you’re controlling your heart rate, and you’re controlling the thoughts that are coming in,” Claudio says.

“Whatever happens to us, we always associate a meaning. So the idea of the ice bath when you’re in there is to associate a different meaning with it. 

“So for me, I go into a level of gratitude. Grateful that I’ve got my three beautiful children, my wife. I’m grateful for where I am today. 

“So instead of thinking about pain or ‘this is super cold’, I’m changing the meaning of what I’m experiencing at the time and controlling my mind.”

If you’re thinking about an ice bath…

Matt says if you are looking to install an ice bath or plunge pool as part of your outdoor living space there are a number of things to consider. 

Integrate or hide the tub in your outdoor setting

By their nature many ice baths aren’t aesthetically pleasing, especially if you’re purchasing at the lower end of the price range.  

Many have quite a boxy refrigerator look to them and colour options are limited.  

For this reason they’re not something you’d make a feature in a garden – unless they’re part of a dedicated gym zone that’s screened off from view.  

One option is to look at ways they can be built in and then easily accessed for use as needed. For instance, you could incorporate an ice bath into under seat storage.  

Ice baths, whether permanent or temporary, need draining so this is something you need to consider when positioning one.

Ice baths and plunge pools that can be turned into ice baths are becoming more popular. Photographer: Natasha Nichols.


How you’d like to use your ice bath, the space you have to set it up, your size and whether you’ll share it with other family or friends will determine what size you opt for.  

If you’re not convinced how much you’d use an ice bath perhaps start off using your bathroom tub for ice baths or buying a temporary ice bath online and build up to creating something outdoors and more permanent.

Placement of your ice bath

As the saying goes, location is everything. If you’re going for a more permanent placement of an ice bath you need to consider where you’d like to sit in it to take in views or a nice outlook into your garden.

Alternatively a tub that can be brought in and out of storage might be the best option so you’re not giving up the best real estate in your garden to an ice tub.  

Add some wow factor 

As ice baths rise in popularity, better designed options are becoming available.  

There’s some that are stainless steel and timber lined or made from other stylish materials to better blend into a garden setting.  

For the truly committed, regular user there are some that are temperature controlled so they’re always ready for use and have a filtration system and plumbed in draining when required. 

It all comes down to cost – to get this sort of ice bath you would need to set aside a decent budget.

10 health benefits of ice baths (thanks ChatGPT)

  1. Reduces muscle soreness: Ice baths are often used by athletes to reduce muscle soreness after intense exercise or competition. The cold water can help reduce inflammation and muscle damage, leading to less pain and faster recovery.
  2. Decreases inflammation: Ice baths have been shown to decrease inflammation throughout the body, including in the muscles, joints, and organs. This can lead to reduced pain and improved overall health.
  3. Improves circulation: Cold water immersion has been found to increase blood flow to the extremities, leading to improved circulation throughout the body. This can help with a range of conditions, from high blood pressure to poor circulation in the legs.
  4. Boosts the immune system: Cold water exposure has been found to boost the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells in the body. This can help the body fight off infections and other illnesses.
  5. Reduces stress: Exposure to cold water has been shown to activate the body’s “fight or flight” response, leading to the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. However, regular exposure to cold water may help the body become more resilient to stress over time.
  6. Improves mood: Cold water immersion has been found to release endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety or depression.
  7. Boosts energy: Taking an ice bath can help increase alertness and mental clarity, leading to improved energy levels throughout the day.
  8. Increases focus: The shock of cold water can help improve focus and concentration, leading to improved productivity and performance.
  9. Promotes relaxation: While exposure to cold water may seem like a stressful experience, many people report feeling relaxed and calm after an ice bath. This may be due to the release of endorphins and other feel-good neurotransmitters.
  10. Improves sleep: Taking an ice bath before bed has been found to improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. This may be due to the body’s natural cooling process, which helps prepare the body for rest.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.