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I Froze My Balls Off Taking Ice Baths for ‘Mental Clarity’ Like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey — And Shockingly, It Worked

I might have also gotten high in the process

Every day on his way to work, Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and perhaps America’s most famous and successful investor, drives to McDonald’s and orders a breakfast sandwich, careful never to spend more than $3.17. “When I’m not feeling quite so prosperous, I might [spend] $2.61, which is two sausage patties, and then I put them together and pour myself a Coke,” he explained in the 2017 HBO documentary, Becoming Warren Buffett. ”$3.17 is a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, but the market’s down this morning, so I’ll pass up the $3.17 and go with the $2.95.”

For a man with a net worth just shy of $90 billion — and who’s pushing 90 years old — one could argue that daily visits to a restaurant synonymous with cheap, unhealthy food is one of the stranger routines a CEO like Buffett could have. But he’d hardly be the first; there are literally books written about the habits of successful men, the kinds of stuff that “got them where they are today,” or that “help them be the leader they need to be.” Winston Churchill, for example, famously took long afternoon naps when he wasn’t downing bottle after bottle of champagne (and leading Britain to victory over the Nazis). And Barack Obama wore basically the same thing every day to avoid “decision fatigue.”

But honestly, that’s all pretty snoozy. Personally, I’d love to try some billionaire’s daily routine in the hopes that it would make me more successful, but I’m not a Mickey D’s fan, naps make me more tired than alert and I hardly make enough life-or-death decisions to warrant needing to wear the same ratty T-shirt everyday to work. Basically, I’m not that important!

Surely, though, there’s got to be some titan of industry out there with a cool-ass signature “success” routine? One that’s easy enough to pull off for a well-documented slacker like myself, and one that might potentially have a tangible benefit on my personal wellness? And one that doesn’t require a vault at Fort Knox (or an investment portfolio like Buffett’s) to afford?

Why yes, yes there is. And it comes courtesy of one of the tech scene’s most admired — and the internet’s most derided — personalities: Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, i.e., the guy who walks to work every day, eats less than most birds and who the New York Times just compared to Gwyneth Paltrow for his role as a Silicon Valley influencer. What I’m talking about is Dorsey’s penchant for saunas and ice baths in order to achieve “mental clarity.”

And so, I subjected my body to extreme differences in hot and cold — from the quiet comfort of an all-nude Korean spa here in L.A., mind you — in an effort to chase the mental high that basically caused Twitter.

The Problem: I could be clearer — mentally speaking.

The Alleged Cure-All:The Jack Dorsey Hot-Cold System,” which is a name I made up, but a name that sounds good nonetheless. Dorsey made headlines for revealing that he wakes up each morning with an hour(ish) long jaunt rotating between his SaunaSpace near-infrared sauna and an ice-cold tub. Here’s the routine, in toto: First, Dorsey spends 15 minutes in the sauna, which he’s got cranked up to 220 scalding degrees. Next, he takes a dip in an 37-degree ice bath for three minutes. He repeats this hot-cold switcheroo three times, with the last ice-bath soak lasting only one minute.

In return for subjecting himself to these extreme temperatures, Dorsey said earlier this month on the Ben Greenfield podcast that he feels “a lot more energized, a lot cleaner” after baking in his home sauna, and that “nothing has given me more mental confidence than being able to go straight from room temperature into the cold” of his near-freezing ice bath. And here I thought all you needed were the three S’s to get going in the morning.

Cost of Dorsey’s Near-Infrared Sauna: $5,499.

The Science: Since Dorsey detailed his morning sauna/ice bath routine, much has been made of the fact that saunas are not a good way to “sweat out the toxins,” and that the biggest health benefits of dry heat are its ability to provide feelings of relaxation and well-being. Studies do show, though, that saunas increase blood flow, which can lead to improved circulation and heart health and — perhaps in a nod to Mr. Dorsey — give the brain a physical boost.

Ice baths, on the other hand, possess actual, tangible physical benefits. First and foremost, their ability to stave off Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS — which is another way of describing the feeling I get when I wake up the day after working out and can’t lift my arms over my head. The cold water accomplishes this by constricting blood flow temporarily while the body is immersed, before dilating when you get back out into the warmer air, creating a vacuum effect that can flush out the “metabolic waste” that causes inflammation and muscle soreness.

So yeah, that all sounds kind of promising, right?

Cost of Dorsey’s Cedar Hot-and-Cold Bathtub: Around $4,500.

The Experience: Considering that I don’t have close to 10 grand to spend on the Jack Dorsey Hot-Cold System, I opted for the next best thing: An all-day pass to L.A.’s premier 24-hour Korean spa and cruising destination, Wi Spa (the cost: $25). Wi Spa, of course, seemed like a natural back-up plan considering I’ve been going there for a shvitz off and on for a decade, and knew it had everything I needed in my attempt to achieve mental clarity. So at 3 p.m. on a Thursday, I walked in, paid my fee, got my prison-issue spa shirt and disposable slip-ons and steeled myself to the idea that in a few short minutes I’d be exposed to freakishly high and dreadfully low temperatures, for a long period of time, repeatedly.

Things could not have gotten off to a worse start when I accidentally locked my gear in the wrong locker, which set off a piercingly loud alarm until I found someone to open it again. After sorting out that situation and getting my stuff into the correctly assigned locker, I undressed into my birthday suit and walked into the men’s spa — and a sea of dongs of all shapes and sizes. After a quick dip in the “warm” pool — which is the temperature of a hot jacuzzi — and a quicker dip in the “hot” pool — which is the temperature of boiling water — I popped into the sauna for my first 15-minute sweat sesh.

The sauna is set to 170 degrees, and while it might not be the 220 that Dorsey enjoys, it still feels plenty hot. Hot enough, that no amount of SportsCenter on the plexiglass-protected TV can prevent me from thinking about anything other than the fact that I’m dripping in sweat, the hot, dry air is hurting my lungs and that a dude with a massive, pierced hog is repeatedly making loud breathing noises in the corner. Not really seeing a difference between 12 and 15 minutes, considering my heart is beating like a racehorse and I’m pretty sure I’ve got the gist of this whole “sauna” thing, I escape the room a little early and get mentally prepared for the second part of the routine, the ice bath, which in Wi Spa’s case, is called the “cold” pool.

I loved the cold pool. LOVED it. Yes, the first few seconds were pure frozen hell, but once I settled in, it felt pretty incredible. I don’t know what they do to the water — maybe they treat it with menthol, maybe peppermint, maybe both — but if there’s any truth to the Jack Dorsey Hot-Cold System, this is where it’s at. If you’re having trouble concentrating, if you’re feeling a little down, if you’re hungover — three minutes in the cold pool will set you straight, and quick. When I got in, it took less than a minute for me to feel almost high. My eyes widened, my senses seemed to become more acute and it felt like I had increased situational awareness. To be honest, I didn’t want to get out; the only reason I did was because I’m pretty sure I was losing feeling in my left foot.

Like a good routine-follower, I made sure I repeated the circuit two more times, per Dorsey’s description. The whole experience took about an hour, and after I showered, toweled off and changed into my prison garb, I ensconced in the spa’s quiet room and fell into a deep(ish) sleep.

The Penalty for Being Caught ‘Cruising’ Late-Night at Wi Spa: Ban for life.

The Takeaway: When I finally left Wi Spa at around 7 p.m. (I took some time to finish some work while I was there), my senses were, noticeably, piqued. I cannot speak to the physiological effects of Dorsey’s routine, and you could very well get the exact same results spending five minutes in the sauna instead of 15, but in my unprofessional, unscientific opinion, that shit works. If I had the balls to get up every morning and subject myself to the Jack Dorsey Hot-Cold System, I would, because I felt like I had drank, like at least 10 hours of Five-Hour Energy shots. It was nothing short of amazing.

I’m not a CEO. I don’t particularly want to be a CEO. But I would like to be moderately successful, and so, I must admit I’m intrigued by some of the weird secret shit CEOs and other successful people do to, well, be successful. And while I’m not quite prepared to hit the drive-thru at Mickey D’s every morning like Warren Buffett, and I’d like to have more than one outfit in my closet unlike Barack Obama, I had a feeling that this whole Jack Dorsey Hot-Cold System might actually work for me. And it did — completely, totally, unquestionably.

Jeff’s Rating: 9/10