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VAHVA Fitness

ICE HOLE - Ancient Viking Ritual to Invigorate the Body

By VAHVA Fitness on May 7, 2019

Invigorating the body through fire and ice. Find out what the crazy Finns have come up with this time. 

We rented a car, picked up 3 nastiest men on the streets and drove 4 hours to the middle of nowhere to a Summer cabin near a big lake to participate in an ancient Viking ritual.

The ritual is called the ice hole. A hole in the ice.

You jump to the hole. You enjoy the ice water for as long as you can. Once you get up from the hole, you are reborn as a Viking warrior.

Here's how everything happened.

Since we didn't have the optimal tools to cut the ice the easiest way, we decided to use whatever tools we had available to do it.

Drilling a ice hole for ice swimming in Finland. VIKINGS.

Finnish thugs drilling holes: Paavo, Erik, Eero and Onni.

It turned out that ice auger was the best tool we had. Normally, you would only use this to make small holes in the ice for ice fishing (a very popular hobby in Scandinavia).

The problem we faced was that we needed to make a BIG HOLE in the ice so it was large enough for us to dip in it. 

If you have ever used an ice auger, it's not easy. Drilling a hole is a serious workout for anyone, even the strongest guys if the ice is thick (and it was). Expect your shoulders, triceps and biceps to get sore.

We had to make dozens of holes in the ice and use a shovel and an axe to connect the holes. We had a chainsaw but unfortunately it stopped working.

Eero trying to use the chainsaw. No shirt? No problem, Finnish don't feel cold.

Did the Vikings have electric chainsaws? No, they didn't so it was all good for us. We created the hole the old school way. The real way, by brute forcing it.

Eventually, the hole was ready and it was glorious. We threw long aluminum ladders in the hole and had a nearly professionally made hole to swim in.

Swimming in Ice Water

Samuli, straight from the underworld.

Swimming in the ice water is actually a very popular pastime in Finland although it can be hard to believe since there is nothing comfortable about it.

If you want to experience this, there are many commercial sites available with saunas and swimming spots available, many in the capital city Helsinki. In fact, this is a very popular thing for tourists to experience during winter. 

This is how ice swimming works:

First, you usually enjoy yourself in a hot sauna until you cannot take it anymore. Sauna is a Finnish invention, a Finnish word and has been around 4000 years.

If you ever visit Finland, there are literally saunas in every house and in most apartments. Finns just cannot live or even enjoy life without one. Finns and Russians even have sauna competitions where people die. No joke.

Second, you jump to the ice hole and enjoy yourself for as long as you can. Beginners usually just dip in the water, realize it's like being in hell and immediately get up. This is all good.

What should you do in the ice water? Relax and breath. Breathing is vital and will make swimming a lot more comfortable. Breathing is also the force that actually cleanses the body and mind.

Once you get up, you will feel cold (especially in the hands and feet) but don't panic. Every minute you are up, you will feel warmer, more energetic and more powerful. It's like a miracle drug. 

To prevent you from freezing to death, you return back to the sauna and get comfortable. Now, you will notice that the sauna is not that hot anymore and it's actually a very comfortable place to spend long periods of time in. 

You repeat this for as many times as you want (for most people once is enough...). 

Why Would Anyone Do This? (The Health Benefits of Ice Swimming)

the health benefits of sauna

There are many types of saunas, the classic Finnish sauna is heated with wood and it feels completely different from the electric one. In Finland, we even have a "smoke sauna".

Nowadays, contrast showers are popular (hot and cold showers). Saunas are popular all across the world.

Cryotherapy is becoming popular as well. Suvi has done both cryotherapy and ice swimming and according to her ice swimming is way worse. 

Most people do this for the health benefits. If you want to learn more about the health benefits, Wim Hof and Rhonda Patrick (PhD) can teach a thing or two. 

Basically, you can expect to improve your longevity, decrease inflammation, improve your immune system, increase the levels of growth hormone production and countless other benefits. 


Health Benefits of Ice Swimming or Cryotherapy


  • Reduces soreness, increases energy, decreases fatigue, improves recovery.


  • Reduces pain & inflammation, increases blood circulation, releases toxins & endorphins, boosts the immune system, increases libido, decreases depression & anxiety.


  • Triggers collagen production, increases metabolism, decreases swelling.

In other words, fire and ice can turn you into a superhuman.

But there are other benefits as well. Benefits that Vikings actually wanted. 

Winter swimming is hard and doing hard things will increase your mental toughness. Mental toughness is the key to success in any realm of human endeavour and ice swimming is one way to increase it.

I hope you enjoyed the video and adventure. If you want to get strong like a Viking, check our FREE mobility class below.

Stay strong.

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