Some people took up cooking, others hit the books to help pass the time during quarantine. Adam Lewis, however, took it to the extreme. “I started doing these cold plunges and it was a weird way to get through the pandemic. I also really love the extremes of heats and did some sweat lodges, got into sauna stuff and built my own sauna.”
Lewis is a guide at Othership, a spa-type facility combining the benefits of both hot and cold elements. The collectiveness of the facility is what really sets Othership apart. “One of our core values is building belonging,” explains Lewis. “Humans, as these primal creatures – belonging, being a tribe – it’s in our DNA. We’re not meant to be isolated; we’re not meant to be alone, especially after the last two years. We’ve all really learned how harsh that it, so people yearn for this connection with others.”
It's clear that Lewis is devoted to the path of well-being, recovery, and mindfulness. “Before joining Othership, I was running my own business … that was an adrenaline-fueled four years of my life that took me through the whole spectrum of stress, elation, depression … what was really interesting was the translation of my mentality as an athlete to business.” Lewis’ performance modalities from sprinting carry forward with him into the business world to get him through the intense emotions of stress and elation. “That’s how I got into meditation and mindfulness and built a very disciplined meditation practice that I still carry forward, says Lewis. “Entrepreneurship is one of those things where it tests you so, so much.”
Most people likely stretch after a workout or go for a walk to cool down, but how do the extremes of hot and cold play into recovery, and what are the benefits? It comes down to dopamine and norepinephrine, the chemicals associated with reward and focus. “By sitting in the cold plunge tub for the two minutes that we prescribe, that’s going to increase the amounts of those neuro chemicals by 250%. And even what’s cool, is such a substantial increase in these neuro chemicals have lasting effects … It’s really profound to see how these modalities that seem so simple, like jumping in cold water, can have these really, really noticeable effects on our physiological and psychological bodies,” raves Lewis.
Jumping in a tub full of ice might sound fairly daunting, even just plain ridiculous. But it’s about the journey to get there, explains Lewis. “It’s a novel stressor, so you have to work your way into it. Start with a hot shower, finish for 15 seconds on cold. Maybe the next day, you do 30 seconds on cold.” It also comes back to mindset. “You’re setting yourself up cognitively for this feedback loop of, ‘I’m getting better at something,’” says Lewis.
Maybe you’re still on the fence about the extremes of hot and cold. Fair enough. There’s something even simpler that you can tackle instead for recovery. “The power of breath is something that I’m continually fascinated by, not just due to the wide varying application it has, but just to the pure efficacy,” Lewis describes. Pre-workout? Breathe. Post-workout? Breathe. “It can be a circular breathing, or it's just, three seconds in, one second out, in, two, three out and we do a round of those. And that's [where we’re] oxygenating our blood and with the breath holds, we can actually saturate more oxygen into our blood. So, we're almost like blood doping naturally. [And] we're priming our nervous system, because again, when it comes to weight training, when it comes to swinging a golf club, when it comes to doing any action, we can do it with better muscular coordination and recruitment if our nervous system is in the right state for it.”
Adam Lewis covers much more of the benefits and science behind hot and cold therapy and breathwork, his experience with peptides and supplements and his advice for the next generation of athletes in Episode #124 of The Athletes Podcast.