Taking the Plunge with Nomadix Ambassador Cameron LaBar

Taking the Plunge with Nomadix Ambassador Cameron LaBar

Ambassador Cameron LaBar aka Cold Plunge Cam is a cold water aficionado, using ice baths and cold exposure to support mental health and wellbeing. Over the last couple years he's inspired his community with his story and motivational videos, all while soaking in Idaho's freezing rivers. We sat down with Cam to dive deeper into his cold plunge journey.


Tell us about yourself and how Cold Plunge Cam got started.

My name is Cameron LaBar - but most people know me as Cold Plunge Cam. I’m a 33 year-old guy who moved to Boise, Idaho in 2020 for a job in corporate finance, only to fall in love with plunging in the Boise river year round. I began plunging in 2021, shared my first Instagram post in July of 2022, and by the end of 2023 I had 250,000 followers.

It all happened so fast, and I’m still learning to manage the additional stress, excitement, and work related to my social media page. My goal has always been to use ice baths and cold exposure to address mental health - primarily by sharing my own personal journey over the years.  

Can you tell us about your background and how you became interested in cold water therapy? And the cold plunge community?

When I was 9 years old, I was diagnosed with anxiety (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Tourette syndrome. A pursuit for helpful tools and resources commenced early on, but it primarily took the form of medication.

Fast forward 20 years - in 2020, I moved to Boise, Idaho to begin a new job out of graduate school. I was hit with a bout of serious depression that caught me completely off guard. But unlike past mental health struggles, I was reluctant to turn to medication because of the debilitating side effects I had always experienced. I quickly began making as many lifestyle changes as I could to address the depression; including diet, exercise, a strict sleep schedule, therapy, sunlight, breathwork, meditation, sauna, and so on. I was willing to try anything.

One day, my friend Zach came to visit and noticed that I lived walking distance from the Boise River. “If I lived here, I would be in this river every morning,” he said. He introduced me to the idea of ice baths and cold exposure, and I fell in love. In July 2021, I tried my first ice bath. I plunged 3-4 times a week, every week, for the entire winter. In July of the following year, I began sharing this journey on social media.


What are some of the benefits you've found for yourself around cold water therapy, both physical and mental?

I found that the impact on my mental health and mood was far more meaningful than any of the physical benefits. Cold exposure causes a physiological response that immediately raises adrenaline levels in the body (epinephrine and norepinephrine). Your heart rate spikes, your breath rate spikes, and your body immediately scrambles to conserve any heat by rapidly constricting your vascular system and blood vessels. It’s a shock! This part of the process helps you feel awake and alert without significantly raising cortisol or “bad stress” levels. But what I find most incredible is that a natural byproduct of this process is an increase in feel-good endorphins and dopamine that can last for many hours afterwards.

I’ve searched far and wide for ways to combat anxiety and depression-related symptoms. And while I cannot perfectly articulate the science behind it, I can say that whatever chemical and molecular reactions take place during an ice bath leave me feeling happy, accomplished, and in an overall better mood for 2-4 hours after the exposure. 


How does cold water therapy differ from other recovery methods? What sets it apart? 

Besides being a great tool for recovery, I see cold water therapy as a controlled environment for learning how to reframe stress and discomfort. Another part of the physiological response during cold therapy is a 30-80% decrease in cognitive function. Simply put, the cold shock makes it harder to think and focus! In difficult and stressful scenarios, it can be easy to lose control or react impulsively. Many of us have likely uttered the phrase, “I wish I handled that better” when facing a challenge or obstacle.

Emotions can be hard to control. But I see cold exposure as a way to prepare more proactively for those difficult moments, by practicing our response to discomfort and using breathwork to control our mindset.



What advice would you give to someone who is interested in trying cold water therapy/plunging for the first time?

It is always important to check with your doctor before practicing cold exposure, especially if you have any preexisting cardiovascular conditions or high blood pressure. A good starting water temperature is 55°F (13°C). Have a friend present. Focus on deep, slow breathing in order to counteract the initial heart rate spike and discomfort. Breathwork will be your ultimate tool for getting past the first minute! Targeting 2-5 minutes of exposure (or just long enough to get everything back under control) is plenty of time to feel the benefits!

Also, making the process as simplified as possible will give you the best chance at success. We tend to find little ways to procrastinate and hold off on getting in the water, even subconsciously. A dedicated time, space, etc. will make the process much smoother.


It's been great chatting with you Cam. Is there anything else you want us to know?

Perhaps unsolicited advice - but I feel the need to share. I've been overwhelmed with gratitude over the last 18 months as my story has resonated with so many people around the world…but none of this would have happened if I didn’t take that very first baby-step out of my comfort zone and into the freezing water. Take a chance at your dreams! It is incredible the way the universe opens up to you when you embrace the difficulty and venture into the unknown.


That's amazing Cam. Where can people follow your journey?

Follow on Instagram and TikTok (@coldplungecam).

Shop Cam's Favorite Cold Plunge Essentials