Unstoppable: How Jono James of Odin Ice Baths Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With…

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Unstoppable: How Jono James of Odin Ice Baths Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Cystic Fibrosis

You never know what someone is going through. Living with CF is a part-time job if not a full-time job. It’s living with a dark passenger that’s always with you. Be compassionate.

As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jono James.

Jono James is the inventor and CEO of Odin Ice Baths. Jono was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a terminal illness that affects his lungs and other vital organs. When he was first diagnosed, doctors told his parents he had less than 10 years to live. Fortunately, his parents didn’t accept that prognosis and thanks to their unwavering commitment to keep him alive he is now 34 years old and never been healthier.

Jono started experimenting with different treatments and therapies when he was 14 years old because he was acutely aware of the fact that he might only have five years to live. After trying more than 150 different therapies and treatments he finally discovered the therapeutic benefits of saunas and ice baths and hasn’t looked back since.

Unfortunately, like many other people, he noticed that there weren’t a lot of good quality, affordable ice baths on the market, so that’s when he decided to make his own. Hence the birth of the Odin.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Imagine being born and being given only 10 years to live.

The doctors have informed your parents that their child has a life-threatening condition that means your lungs are completely incapable of fighting off infection.

The prognosis means your lungs can quickly become infected from an ordinarily harmless bacteria found in the environment. This bacteria infects your lungs, getting into every nook and cranny.

And just like that, you’re fighting for your life. This infection will likely kill you. And probably within a few years.

That’s what happens when you are diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis — but that’s not the end of my story, not even close.

Instead of allowing this cruel disease to kill me, I have done and continue to do what many doctors considered impossible.

Not only have I beat the odds and held back this terrible disease for almost a quarter of a century longer than I was supposed to, I have discovered the therapeutic benefits of ice baths and saunas.

When my parents were told by the doctors that I would only live to 10 years old and to not explore alternative options, they didn’t accept this. So, they embarked on a lifelong journey of discovery to find anything and everything that could help me beat my fate. This was before the Internet, and so they were forced to visit the local library and scour through the journal articles that were on offer. They bought every book they could find that even had a small hope of helping me, and they took me to specialist after specialist. Both conventional and alternative. Each journal article, book, or specialist revealed more of the puzzle that was my condition. And in the end, my parents had a pretty good idea of what would help me.

They completely changed my diet, they added in specific nutrients and experimented with herbs and other compounds to give me a little bit of an edge. The lungs are normal in people with CF when they are born. They are just not able to fight infection easily, and it’s the infections that ultimately cause deterioration and death. So their number one priority was to build up my immune system so I could fight off any infection before it took hold. Whenever I got a cold, they were very quick to stop it from progressing.

It’s a strange feeling knowing how you’re going to die.

Thankfully it won’t be anytime soon if I have anything to do with it.

Fast forward to now, I am 34 years of age and healthier and stronger than ever.

I have spent years defying all odds that were stacked against me and committed to an unwavering determination for finding health optimization tools that could help me continue defying those odds.

Many of these were failed experiments, but some weren’t, and each time I found an improvement I stuck with it, adding it to my routine.

One of those tools that stuck was Contrast Therapy, also known as Hot/Cold Therapy, Immersion Therapy, or Hot/Cold Immersion.

This involves exposing the body to contrasting temperatures, for example, using a sauna followed by an ice bath. So, I bought my first sauna at an auction and I set it up in my home.

Almost immediately after introducing saunas into my routine, I began to see the difference in the way I felt, my mental clarity, and overall health. Shortly after that, I introduced an ice bath after my sauna. This totally changed my perception of alternative health tools.

Fast forward to today and I now own and operate Odin Ice Baths, the world’s only cedar, plug-in ice bath.

Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?

I didn’t really have a choice. You either keep fighting or you die, it’s really that simple. I’m a big fan of stoic philosophy — you can be dealt a bad hand and mop about it, but at the end of the day it doesn’t serve you in any way. While it might get you some sympathy points, there’s only so much of that you can do before it becomes counterproductive. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you can spend that time trying to find a solution and trying to get better. It doesn’t have to be a silver bullet, but if you spend just a little bit of time focused on getting better everyday that little bit of effort will go a long way. All you have to do is remain committed and give it a couple years and you’ll be a completely different person. That applies to everything, not just in health.

Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness ?

I’ve got two business degrees, traveled to 30 countries and I’ve spent long stretches of time away from home. I’am also a certified nutritionist, written two books and stayed healthy throughout it all despite my condition. My latest and biggest achievement is starting Odin Ice Baths. Ninety-five percent of the Odin design and production methods were created by me and the business is essentially 100 per cent bootstrapped.

I started my company in my mum’s garage, before moving to my partner’s double garage before having to move again to a 100 by 75 meter warehouse. The business has grown so quickly that I recently had to to an even larger warehouse that is 175 meters by 400 meters. I also have six staff and I am on track to generate approximately $4 million in sales this year. This has all happened in the span of nine months. We’ve been so successful that I’ve also been on TV and we’re in conversation with a few celebrities and influential people in the ice bath community who want to partner with us.

With that said, just like the iceberg analogy — most people only see 10 percent of what we do, while there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes. In the beginning it was just me failing over-and-over again and learning from my mistakes so I could get better. After years of perseverance and determination to avoid the 9–5 rat race, I’ve found my life-passion.

What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?

Doctors have an incredible amount of value, but don’t always think outside the box. There was a study that took place a few years ago and they found that it takes 17 years for something to go from a clinical trial to the doctor’s office. I recommend people also do their own research to actually learn how to interpret the science and just try and find as many things that can help. I also believe what works for one person might not work for the other person and vice-versa so you just have to keep trying different therapies and treatments. Treat yourself like a one person clinical trial so you can try things over and over and over again. Out of a hundred trials you try, two might be effective. I started trying different treatments and therapies when I was 14 because I was acutely aware of the fact that I might only have five years to live. It took until I was 26 and more than 150 different therapies and treatments to find something that actually worked for me and here I am now at 34 and I’ve never felt better.

In my case, five years ago I discovered the benefits of saunas. At the time, I noticed that I coughed less and my lungs just felt better. After using a sauna for several years I started to experiment with Contrast Therapy, which is when I incorporated ice baths into my daily routine following the Wim Hof Method. The results were incredible. I almost immediately found all of the benefits I had discovered from saunas doubled when I immersed myself in cold water. In fact, since I started using ice baths I have noticed it has helped improve my mental health and discipline, recovery from workouts, and reduced inflammation. My immune system and response to stress now makes me feel invisible, not to mention I feel like superman after I come out of the ice.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

Both of my parents were incredible advocates for my health. My mum made it her full time job looking after me and trying to find anything that would help. This was when the internet wasn’t widely adopted yet, so she would have to go to the local library and browse on the computers to do research and print out journal articles. With that said, she truly believes that there’s a huge amount of value you get from doctors, but they don’t always have all the answers. At the end of the day being healthy is a mindset that requires a holistic approach. For starters you need to stay away from unhealthy food and make sure you exercise regularly. Focus on finding ways to avoid stress, pay attention to your circadian rhythm, think about your gut health, spend some time in nature — it’s all connected and it all plays an important role. These are some of the things I learned from my mom and she taught me to just keep going, keep researching and be the master of your own future.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Through Odin — changing lives one ice bath at a time. I’ve also used my experience as a nutritionist and author to share my story of perseverance and determination so that others can hopefully find the inspiration to live happier and healthier lives.

Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.

You never know what someone is going through. Living with CF is a part-time job if not a full-time job. It’s living with a dark passenger that’s always with you. Be compassionate.

I think a lot of people don’t feel like they have as much control over their lives as they do. Every day is a decision that gets you closer to or further away from the “dream life.” So why not strive for something that you are really going to be proud of and that helps you get up every day because even if you fail, at least you tried.

There’s people who are outliers as far as surviving a diagnosis. And it comes down to your attitude. It comes down to your willingness to try to find things to help. That’s not to say bad things don’t happen. They definitely do and you don’t always have a hundred percent control, but I firmly believe people have more say in how their story ends than they realize.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“One day your life will flash before your eyes make sure it’s worth watching.”

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Wim Hof because he was the one who initially inspired me to research and learn more about Contrast Therapy and ice baths. After discovering the Wim Hof method I got obsessed with ice baths and after seeing that there weren’t that many good, affordable solutions on the market, I decided to make my own. Hence the birth of the Odin Ice Bath.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Unstoppable: How Jono James of Odin Ice Baths Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.