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All The Cold Plunge Questions, Answered: Our Cold Plunge Review And What We Love About It

Well, here we are. My job is so weird (and wonderful). Three people, three cameras, shooting me cold plunging, in an admittedly pretty low-cut suit, was once again quite the way to spend a Thursday. There is no perfect career or job and many days are challenging being a small business lady on the social media internets, but this day, I’ll gladly celebrate (despite being terribly self-conscious) as I dunk my body in freezing cold water for your viewing pleasure (and my actual pleasure).

#1 Question: Why Do You Cold Plunge?

During lockdown, Brian and I lived in Lake Arrowhead with our house a 20-minute walk to the lake. Most weekdays we’d take turns running down, working out, jumping in, drying off in the sun and running back. It immeasurably helped my low-grade COVID anxiety on a daily basis and simply felt incredible (yes, year-round). I’ve obviously read a lot about Wim Hof (watch the Goop Episode if you are curious) so sure, I know about all the good things it does for your body. But for me, it’s the mood boost that accompanies it (likely paired with the workout endorphins) that has made it something I crave.

So after 2 years up here of ice baths and cold showers, I bought a janky one on FB Marketplace last summer that didn’t end up working for me or my yard (too hot outside, but couldn’t live inside). I was even more hooked and started doing the research for a non-janky plunge. I felt that after 4 years of voluntarily shocking my body in freezing cold water, I could allow myself to invest in one. Brian loved plunging in the lake but not as much as me (he now meets my enthusiasm).

After doing my research, most reviews put Plunge as the best for mid-range cold plunges (plus they are so pretty). There are some that are splurgier, but they seemed more for commercial/spa use and there are some more affordable but with obvious concessions (many are for adding ice or simply cold water due to the outside temperature). I reached out, pitched them admittedly VERY HARD, and struck up a trade. In other words, I would have bought this outright but in full transparency, I didn’t.

The reason I chose this cold plunge is the usual: the great looks + the great function + really good reviews. Stylistically it’s very simple with a lovely shape that obviously looks like a large tub and you can hide the mechanics behind it (their new version that just launched houses the cooling system inside).

Wait, Why Do You Put Your Body In Freezing WATER…IN THE WINTER?

Listen, hot and cold therapy has been used as a healing tool forever – good for inflammation, the immune system, and yes even burning calories. But the reason that I do it is 100% because I love the way I feel, both during and after. It’s a coping mechanism, perhaps even an addiction, and one that I have zero guilt about. They say that it’s 3 hours of a happy dopamine burst from your brain into your body (quoting Andrew Huberman, here). I walk into the house after a workout/plunge and feel like FANTASTIC MR. FOX and ready to work and be a lot more positive. If you are already shaking your head and annoyed with this blonde lady getting all Goopy on you, I get that and this likely isn’t for you. This isn’t just a new fancy fad to spend money on, there is enough scientific and anecdotal evidence showing how beneficial it is to our bodies, brains, and moods. (And they have payment plans, FYI).

I love it year-round, but in the winter when it’s gray outside, I specifically go to it to stave off Seasonal Depression. The last two winters here I spent doing long walks/workouts and ice-cold showers (which also works!) so once we had a place to put this Plunge I felt confident that I would use it enough to warrant having one. Remember, not only is this a financial investment but everything we do/buy has an environmental impact so if you don’t think you will use it frequently, then think hard about getting one. Despite me forcing most people in my life to try it – 2/3rds LOVE IT and others love how they feel afterward (which is a guarantee) but hate the cold enough to not opt for it again. Even my kids are split – Birdie LOVES IT and will ask to do it with me and her friends, Charlie took a big “no thank you bite” and hasn’t touched it since. My brother drives over to our house just to do it, so apparently it’s in the Starke DNA.

How Does The Cold Plunge It Work?

It’s essentially a large bathtub with an electric heat pump next to it (similar to a low-energy AC unit) that is attached to a big tub with jets that filters the water and keeps it around 43 degrees (I think it goes down to 37 which now that I think about it I’m going to set it lower). So yes, IT’S VERY COLD AND YOU WILL MAKE REALLY ODD SOUNDS.

How Long Do You Stay In The Water For?

Robe | Slides

The length of my plunge depends on how warm my body temperature is (which is determined by how long my workout was). I almost always do it after a workout (even if the workout is 15 minutes Peloton) because having a warmer body temperature makes it so much more enjoyable. If I don’t have much time I’ll just get in for a minute, but most days its the length of 1 or 2 songs (think Kelly Clarkson, “Stronger” or Pinks, “I’m Never Not Going To Dance Again” and YOU BET I SING). Many times I’ve stayed for 9 minutes but it takes a long time for my bones to heat up after that (so best on the weekend when I can snuggle up afterward). I know you won’t believe this, but after the initial shock, it gets pretty easy. Cold, but you stop noticing it, and feels so magical.

Also to note: we have the XL which is lovely, but if you want to save some $$ the smaller version is probably big enough (unless you are super tall). You fill it with clean water and the filter is easy to change (full disclosure, we haven’t changed it yet which I’m sure we need to but it seems fine – we’ve been using it for 3 months, 2 of us 4-5 times a week). It does have a filter and chemicals similar to a hot tub. Also to note: it’s really cut down on my spray tan addiction because I’m prioritizing this and I don’t want orange water for obvious reasons.

Do You Scream???

At first, I make all sorts of sounds that might sound totally primal and dare I say erotic (sorry – or your welcome – neighbors) TBH, but then I settle in, breathe, and can relax. I keep my hands out because since I need to writer it takes them too long to warm up and then I can’t work. And while I’m done showing people my crotch in life, I clearly have no problem showing off what we will now call “my buoys.”

All the photos of people looking peaceful might look like BS, but again, once you settle in (after about 30 seconds) you get used to it. close your eyes, and belt out Kelly Clarkson. Moving your legs and arms in the water definitely makes it colder/harder and extra credit for putting your head in. I highly suggest going up to your neck (not just your legs) for full effect.

Afterward, you might be like me, bright red, but you will definitely be like me – VERY HAPPY. Your body feels numb in such a good way and you are instantly warm when you get out (your body temp isn’t but your skin is due to the contrast). I usually try to warm up on my own. But if I don’t have the time to wrap myself in a sweatsuit then I’ll obviously take a hot shower in order to not shiver during Zoom calls. Going back between cold and hot is part of water therapy that feels MAGICAL. We don’t have a sauna (yet) but it’s part of my master plan to build out this property for small design + fitness/wellness retreats when I’m “retired”. WHO WANTS TO COME??????

Swimsuit

This plunge is mid-priced for what’s on the market, starting around $5k (think hot tub pricing) and the newer version (with the heat pump inside the unit) is more. It’s undoubtedly a luxury for many that are privileged and one that Brian and I are both thankful for daily (yes, he’s obsessed now, too and calls it “liquid creativity”‘” for what it does to his brain and writing directly after). If your first reaction is annoyance about these types of wellness splurges, I get that. Just remember that if a big tech business MAN were touting the benefits of their personal cold plunge (and they do) we’d call it “bio-hacking” and no one would judge. But when a woman with big or small buoys, living an obviously privileged life, does anything like this, it’s chalked up to woo-woo Goopy “wellness” garbage. But y’all, It’s the exact same thing. The world just wants women, specifically in the domestic and “wellness” space, to stand down and be small, and yet let all the men run free, get big, and make all the $$$. Here we are!!

Cold plunges feel great and are good for your body and mental health, full stop. My best advice for whether this is for you is to start with cold showers after a workout, consistently for a month or three. If you honestly enjoy it and get to the place where you even crave it, then you could snag one that doesn’t have the refrigeration mechanism (some are under $200). There are so many more affordable ones on the market, mostly those that work with outside temp in the winter and these are GREAT. Come summer they won’t stay cold, so people put ice in them when using. It’s a great way to dip your toe 🙂 If the temperature outside is under 40 degrees, then grab yourself an inflatable one or a barrel and give it a whirl. If you have the budget, consider this the same price as a hot tub and go for this one if you can, from Plunge, which I love very very much.

A few common more logistical questions:

  1. How do you drain/change the water? There is a hookup in the back for a hose that will extend outside onto the pea gravel. We haven’t done this yet, but it’s the reason we put it where we did.
  2. Can you put it anywhere? From my experience (with the other janky one I bought before this one from FB), just make sure it’s in 100% shade in the summer (we didn’t have anywhere except our front porch which would be admittedly super weird). The other one couldn’t keep up with the outside summer temp (and it was built to drain directly from the bottom, no hose so it couldn’t be inside). You can put this one, from Plunge, inside your house, but just make sure the hose can reach to drain it somewhere. The tub itself is fiberglass so it’s not heavy, but with water it sure is. Also, make sure that whatever floor you put it on is waterproof – i.e. no wood flooring or carpet, obviously. Despite having a bath mat, we drip everywhere and have to clean up the splashes on our rubber floor daily.
  3. Can it get hot like a hot tub? I know there are models that do that but we don’t need it to so ours doesn’t. We have the Soake pool (which is a hot tub in the winter) and I have a bathtub. But if you don’t have a bathtub, it might be worth considering getting one that can be both. Just a reminder that going from freezing to hot might take hours and a lot of energy so I’m not sure how often you’d do this, but I like the option.
  4. Does it require electricity? Yes, we just plugged it into the wall (you need two outlets for two plugs) and we had this building wired up knowing that potentially a plunge and a sauna would be hooked up to it. You have to keep it on to keep the water circulating so consider that. We saw our electricity bill bump up a bit (but Oregon also surged theirs by 18% starting in January so hard to know what is what).
  5. Easy to install? Yep! I didn’t do it, but our handy guy said it was easy.
  6. Why don’t you use your Soake pool as a cold plunge? We could, but we’d have to keep it no less than 55 degrees because we don’t want the pipes/equipment to freeze. For a lot of people, this is cold enough! Also, we like to use our Soake pool as a hot tub in the winter so going up and down takes a lot of energy. Also when it’s rainy it’s obviously less wonderful 🙂 We keep our Soake pool at the recommended 70 most of the time knowing that it takes 3 hours to heat up so we plan ahead. I fully realize we are spoiled and have no need to ever leave the property, like ever.
  7. Do your kids like to plunge? Birdie loves it (has done it 4-5 times voluntarily, obviously) Charlie has no interest. Come summer when it’s 95 degrees, we’ll see. Brian does it every day after he works out as well and loves it.

Thanks for reading y’all. And thanks to Plunge for partnering on this. For the record, the trade was an Instagram reel and stories on social media, not a blog post here which I gave freely (literally) because I love the product so much. No PR messaging necessary. I just love how this thing makes me feel and how much it’s benefitted our mental and physical health. (If you are near a cold lake, I HIGHLY suggest doing the analog version:))

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

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kplondon
1 month ago

Where is the fab bathing suit from? Apologies if I missed it in the post 🙂

Alex
1 month ago
Reply to  kplondon

I could be wrong but I think it is the TA3 swimsuit called “Pushy”.

Zana
1 month ago
Reply to  kplondon

It’s the Pushy in Sapphire by TA3.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  kplondon
Julie P
1 month ago
Reply to  kplondon

I’ve bought a swimsuit from TA3. 100% amazing magical item.

Kerri
1 month ago

I’m sorry if this is a dumb question but couldn’t you just put cold water your bathtub?

Shar
1 month ago
Reply to  Kerri

Yes, you could.

L
1 month ago
Reply to  Kerri

Yeah what is better about this than a bathtub? Bathtubs are nice in that they are already attached to plumbing ..but would love to hear the company line ??

Julie
1 month ago
Reply to  Kerri

Yes but it would not always be the temp you want unless you add (which means you make or store) a bunch of ice, plus it’s not reusable, which would be a ton of water every time and not even a real bath for getting clean.

Donna
1 month ago
Reply to  Julie

Even if you plunged in a cold bath for 15 minutes, the temperature of the water wouldn’t change that much.

Brenda
1 month ago

Thanks for the review! It does make me want to experiment with cold showers and lake plunges.

Jen A
1 month ago

I’m confused I thought the Soake pool was for cold plunging in winter? And if not, why not just get a regular sized pool for the yard since you have the space? I guess I need to go back and read the soake pool post again to remember.

Erin
1 month ago

It’s great to see you enjoying it! I haven’t gotten the bug, but anything that doesn’t involve harming anyone or consuming chemicals and gives that much mood/health boost is a win!

Madeline
1 month ago

Hi, would love link to suit! I am so glad that you’ve found something that’s so beneficial for your mental health : )

Zana
1 month ago
Reply to  Madeline

It’s the Pushy in Sapphire by TA3.

AE
1 month ago

Hmm, I’m not sure that tech bros don’t get some significant eye rolling and pusback for “biohacking,” especially if they are doing so without a more holistic approach to mental health care – like regularly going to therapy.

Kari
1 month ago
Reply to  AE

Yeah, “bio-hacking” and “wellness” are equally toxic and I do think bros get a ton of pushback. I’m not anti-cold plunge, but I wouldn’t justify it based off the way people listen to brocasts. Both are shaming spaces. However, I think anyone can freeze their buns off in water if they want to – especially if it makes you feel good!

mockginger
1 month ago

I am here to comment that we’re all going to need a link to that suit because you look AMAZING in it.

Zana
1 month ago
Reply to  mockginger

It’s the Pushy in Sapphire by TA3.

Hana
1 month ago

I think this plunge is so pretty and I’m glad you shared it. I have a sauna and outdoor plunge that I use twice a week. The plunge is just a black trough for watering your animals and can be purchased at any feed store. We surrounded ours with redwood so it looks pretty and plumbed it for water and drainage. Very inexpensive but you need an elevated deck for this set up to work. If you live on the coast like I do the water is cold enough most days without ice. I wouldn’t wait until you retire to get a sauna as the process of heating up your core and then plunging into the cold is so enjoyable, healthy, stress reducing and mood lifting! I am totally addicted. And I love your workout room sooo much!

Sheila
1 month ago

I’m glad this makes you happy but I couldn’t get through reading this without putting on a hoodie and turning up the space heater next to me. I HATE being cold. My water heater has been out and I’m saving up for all the plumbing work it’s going to require so I’ve been taking cold showers for a month now and it’s so awful! On the upside, I’m in and out of there so fast, I’m sure it’s saving water!

misty
1 month ago
Reply to  Sheila

Sheila, I am with you! Hate the cold! However, now that a medically required hysterectomy last fall has forced me into menopause at an earlier and accelerated rate – every time I have a hot flash followed by nausea – I consider a cold plunge! Space heater after would def be required! lol

Victoria
1 month ago
Reply to  Sheila

I’m not a fan of the cold and it generally has a negative impact on my chronic conditions, but when I’ve used a cold plunge in a spa it actually made me feel better. Using a cold plunge three times, on two separate holidays, are the only times I’ve been briefly pain free in about 25 years.

I struggle with just a cold shower, but full immersion was great. And freaking cold, but great.

Lane
1 month ago

It’s so great that you write about things like that. I’m someone who doesn’t enjoy cold temperatures, but I do enjoy alternating between a hot tub or sauna and a cold pool whenever I stay at a hotel. I’ll try a cold shower and be a bit more enthusiastic about swimming in a cold lake.

joy
1 month ago

I fully endorse the benefits of a cold plunge and have loved it when visiting Korean Spas in LA. Also — and apologies if you’ve already given this info — where is your robe from? Love it so much! Thanks!

Zana
1 month ago
Reply to  joy

It’s the Vintage Checkered Unisex Bathrobe – Black from SMPL Objects, available from their website and Amazon.

emily jane
1 month ago

I can’t even keep my newly diagnosed arthritic hand in a bowl of cold TAP water long enough to add ice (and so truly benefit) but man Em, you are selling this product/experience! I almost burst into tears reading “your body feels numb in such a good way” as mornings are harrowing for me due to the amount of pain I wake up in (recently I started staying up all night and the next day but then will sleep 12 hours that next night just to avoid those 3 hours of near panic Every. Single. Morning.) Your description of how you feel after Plunging has inspired me to experiment with adding cold showers to my care plan/coping strategy. Fingers crossed!
Also, thanks for bringing the so-called “woo-woo” -sharing your safe and effective self care routine (whose benefits happen to also be proven btw!) is no less generous just because trade was involved and there may be an additional benefit to you!
PS. Do you ever use the Sauna blanket device to warm-up after Plunging..?

Victoria
1 month ago
Reply to  emily jane

I have chronic pain and have found cold immersion helpful, but I struggled with just cold showers. I think I need the overwhelming immersive cold to shock me long enough to stay in it, but I squeal and jump out of the shower!

Anne Sweeney
1 month ago

Thanks for this info! Hubby and I have wanted a cold plunge for a while. We have a stock tank pool in our back yard and could have used that I suppose. But I kind of like having a separate one. I think I might start with a simple plastic trough outside and see if we use it. My issue is for me I would like temp control bc I don’t see me going below 50 degrees! So a setup w chiller seems a better fit. So much to think about. I love that you wrote on this – women’s opinions in this space matter!

Gretchen
1 month ago

I’m so intrigued by the cold plunge idea! I’ve heard a lot about the health benefits recently, so I appreciate your perspective. Not sure I’ll ever have the space for a plunge tub, but I’m going to try a cold shower or lake jump this winter – though it makes me shiver just thinking about it!

Amber
1 month ago

If you’re going to tout the health benefits of cold plunging (which are well documented), I think you should also mention that there are risks as well. You can faint, have a heart attack, etc. Would recommend doing some research before you dive in (pun intended).

Mari
1 month ago

Curious about the maintenance and logistics of this – I think you are saying you haven’t changed the filter yet but does that mean you also haven’t changed the water in months? And when you do add new water do you use a garden hose?

mal
1 month ago

I live in SF and my FAVORITE mood booster is a run along the water followed by a plunge in the bay! The water is only about 55-57F but cold enough to do the trick (and free). Then a quick hustle to the car to turn on seat heaters asap. The endorphins are CRAZY!

Leslie
1 month ago

I discovered sauna/cold plunging at the Russian Baths while visiting NYC. I’ve never done cold plunging alone just with using a sauna as well. My favorite is to do 5 or 6 rounds – 15 minutes in the sauna then 3 minutes in the cold, then about 10 minutes rest., and then start all over again. I’m on the west Coast so now I travel up to a spa called Reguge in Carmel every 3 or 4 months for the same routine. And I am someone who HATES to be cold. I’m not sure how I would be without the hot sauna first. And I can’t do the cold shower. I have to get my whole body in the plunge and submerged real quick. But once in, you do actually start to kind of relax into it. I also have to keep my hands out. Not sure why but it just helps me handle it. I try to dunk my head a few times during the 3 minutes as well. The after effects are fantastic. So relaxed as well as rejuvenated and definitely helps with depression, especially in the winter. I’m saving my money for a suana and cold plunge… Read more »

Amy P
1 month ago

I love a cold plunge, but ONLY after sitting in a 200 degree sauna for at least 15 min! When you’re ready to add a sauna to your property, definitely check out Cedar + Stone (https://cedarandstonesauna.com/) They are the BEST saunas straight out of the Sauna Capital of the US – Duluth, MN!

Rhonda
1 month ago

I’ve been wanting a cold plunge for awhile, I love yours. I just listened to a great podcast on the benefits of cold plunging, although they did say moving water is more beneficial. In Europe they have clubs that meet every morning for cold water bathing. I wish they would starts those here, I would be in😄

Nicolle
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhonda

Minnesota has these in the winter when all our lakes are frozen over and they cut a hole in the ice. It’s amazing!

Lori Perlman
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhonda

Emily’s cold plunge philosphy reminds me of a New Yorker article I read a few years ago:, “The Subversive Joy of Cold-Water Swimming:

Britons are skipping the heated pool and rediscovering the pleasures of lakes, rivers, and seas—even in winter.”

By Rebecca Mead, January 20, 2020

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/01/27/the-subversive-joy-of-cold-water-swimming

I’d like to think I could join the brave souls who participate in this practice. Maybe someday…..

Alex
1 month ago

I think the benefits have been overstated. I would ask that those who don’t love the feeling of a plunge, can’t afford a plunge. or don’t get the dopamine rush remember that you’re not really missing out on significant health effects you couldn’t otherwise get from good diet, excercise, and sleep. There really isn’t great data for cold plunges.

I do however swear by them if you have a headache lol!

Thank you Emily for sharing your beautiful gym!

https://peterattiadrive.libsyn.com/website/254-ama-47-cold-therapy-pros-cons-and-its-impact-on-longevity

Alyce
1 month ago

Even though I historically hate cold water, I read this on the train on the way to the office, and it convinced me to try a cold shower after my midday gym session. I can confirm that cold showers are still as terrible as they have ever been. But it did make me really enjoy the warm shower that followed….but I can say I was in a pretty good mood for the rest of the day, even with it being an above average stressful day overall.

Anna
1 month ago

Speaking here as someone who has loved swimming in cold water since childhood and still does so regularly in Puget Sound near where I live (would love to do so daily if I lived slightly closer and/or did not have two very small and demanding kids), just thought I’d mention that I absolutely DO judge/roll my eyes at “biohacking bros” for their wellness gimmicks/gadgets at least as much if not more so than “Goop ladies.” But I agree that there are many (probably mostly men!) who do take “biohacking” seriously while rolling their eyes at “wellness” which is, as you say, totally ridiculous! Mostly, this post makes me want to jump in the Sound as soon as possible 🙂

Shelley
1 month ago

Do you plunge naked after the workout or change into a bathing suit?

Nicolle
1 month ago

PREACH on bio hacking vs. wellness and men vs. women. You’re spot on and thank you for standing up for us!

Reanna
1 month ago

I liked this post – it’s interesting and honest. I appreciate you being upfront about the trade, too.

Martha
1 month ago

I cold plunge once a week or so in our local river – if you have a water body near you and you live in a cool/cold climate over the winter, I highly recommend it! It has been a wonderful way for me to connect with other women as well (for safety reasons, you shouldn’t ever go alone).