Exercice de respiration par grand froid


Crazy cold adventures

Jump into the deep end!
Jan. 2023
4 min.

As January comes to a close, winter has finally arrived, and almost with a vengeance. Since the ski areas are now covered in thick blanket of snow and filled with happy skiers, we thought that you just might warm up to the idea of wandering off the beaten path to embark on other crazy-cold adventures.

Somewhere between Mt. Semnoz and Mt. Veyrier, water walking in the great outdoors

Wave or water walking began as an exercise with a paddle, and designed for rowers. Created in 2005 along the northern coast of France by professional rowing coach, Thomas Wallyn, water walking started as a joint-friendly way to build strength and increase cardiovascular endurance. This new, very accessible discipline has since gained popularity among people of all ages and fitness levels, and Lake Annecy offers the perfect venue to enjoy such a rejuvenating activity.

So, let’s jump right in!

Marche aquatique dans le lac d'Annecy

© Jeremy Menetrier

Sevrier, Friday, January 13, 11:45

Water temperature: 7.8°C

Air temperature: 7.5°C

Every Friday (and Monday), Isabelle Lebourg, a pilates, yoga, and water walking instructor in Sevrier, meets with her loyal group of students all dressed in their “battle” gear: a wetsuit, neoprene gloves and booties, and a wool beanie pulled down well over their ears. While the sun tries to pierce through the clouds – which it finally does during this particular session – the air remains crisp and cold to say least.

We slide into the water slow and easy, just like the rest of the session, which starts with a series of movements to warm up our bodies and joints.

Next, standing in waist to diaphragm-deep water, we begin to perform one exercise after another, alternating between lunges with arm movements, knee raises, butt kicks, side-to-side shuffles, small hops, running, and walking backwards, all the while maintaining a dynamic pace and keeping our abdominal muscles flexed.

Resistance from the water builds muscle strength without putting a strain on your joints. As the water gently massages the muscles, it provides a drainage effect, offering a wonderful feeling of well-being and inner cleansing.

Marche aquatique dans le lac d'Annecy

© Jeremy Menetrier

While we base each session around water walking, we use the water’s resistance to help build full-body strength. Water’s flotation capacity allows us to free up tense or painful parts of the body and reinforce balance. The lake’s freshwater and quiet setting make it easy to marvel at the surrounding natural beauty while taking a deep look inside ourselves,” Isabelle explains.

In addition to being a fun activity that takes place in a beautiful setting, water walking puts the mind and body at ease and reinforces the immune system.

So, what’s holding you back from taking the plunge?

Marche aquatique dans le lac d'Annecy

© Jeremy Menetrier

Gear (in winter):

  • A 5mm wetsuit designed for cold water (between 7°C and 12°C)
  • 5 mm booties and gloves
  • A beanie

Information and reservations:

Isabelle Lebourg : +33 (0)6 76 55 90 30


La Méthode Pilates

By braving the cold, learn to manage stress

This is the promise made by Stéphane Janssoone, a former high-level triathlete who created the Breathing Academy in Annecy in 2021, the first ever school of breathing in France.

He offers courses, some specifically for healthcare professionals and others open to anyone, to teach proper breathing technique and to review the important role that breathing plays in health, well-being and performance.

He also teaches the Wim Hof* Method, and as one of the first instructors in France, he organizes half-day and two-day introduction courses.

Exercice de respiration au bord du lac d'Annecy

© Thierry Sourbier

*Wim Hof, nicknamed “The Iceman,” is known all over the world for his attempts and success at setting the record for exposure to cold. He holds several Guinness world records. Starting in 2000, he popularized his training method (based on exposure to cold, breathing techniques, and meditation), known as the “Wim Hof Method,” and heralded its physical and mental health benefits.

“Based on purposeful exposure to cold, breathing work, and improving concentration, the Wim Hof Method offers a powerful path towards transformation. It activates the three elements of human existence – the physical, the mental, and the spiritual – and reawakens our innate ability to adapt,” Stéphane explains.

Exercice de respiration par grand froid

© Thierry Sourbier

By voluntarily putting yourself in a stressful situation (exposure to extreme cold) and by practicing different exercises, we learn how to relax, handle the temperature, and create a relative form of comfort for ourselves. Through repetition and training, little by little we succeed in expanding our comfort zone, increasing our stress threshold, and learning how to better detect when stress levels begin to rise. We can apply this knowledge and these techniques to our daily lives.

It is scientifically proven that regular exposure to cold significantly reduces rheumatoid and joint pain, as well as inflammation. It also helps to improve sleep, increase energy levels, and boost your metabolism. Many high-level athletes now take ice-water baths on a regular basis to maximize both performance and recovery.

Bain froid au bord du lac d'Annecy

© Thierry Sourbier

In concrete terms, the workshops are organized around on three main phases:

  • Practicing powerful breathing techniques,
  • Working on concentration and mental strength,
  • Exposure to the cold by either bathing in the lake or in a pool filled with ice when the lake water is not cold enough.

Longer courses also include:

  • Meditating in the snow wearing only thin, lightweight clothes,
  • Hiking through the snow in a swimsuit.

Stéphane also founded the Ice Club where, every weekend from November through April, a small group of diehard swimmers gets together on the Beauregard Hotel beach in Sevrier to swim together in the lake’s frigid water. He also wrote the book, “La respiration. Bien plus qu’une pratique essentielle” (Breathing. More than simply a vital function), published by Editions du Dauphin (and only available in French).

For anyone truly sensitive to the cold and hesitant about jumping into an ice-filled bath, the “21-day cold shower challenge” is a worthy alternative, offering the opportunity to experience the benefits cold exposure in the comfortable confines of your very own home. Just sign up through the website.


Stéphane Janssoone: +33 6 14 63 74 79


Stéphane Janssoone

Breathing Academy

Ice Club Lac d’Annecy

Association Ice Club, pour des bains glacés dans le lac d'Annecy

© Stéphane Janssoone


  • © Thierry Sourbier

Journalist: Aude Pollet-Thiollier

Translation: Darin Reisman