Ryan Stramrood – Your average Joe with a not-so-average hobby

We recently had the incredible Ryan Stramrood host a How To Friday at the agency. Ryan describes himself as a South African, small business owner, family man and Average Joe.However, what sets him apart from most other self-proclaimed ‘Average Joes’ is his passion for Ultra Extreme Open Water and Ice Swimming. As the name suggests, Ryan partakes in swimming competitions in icy cold open water, of which potential hazards include swimming alongside poisonous jelly fish, enduring rough seas, and temperatures that do not push the thermostat past 5°C…in nothing more insulating than a Speedo.

His adventures and death-defying experiences tell an amazing tale of human spirit and victory, and so we decided to chat with him about how he manages it all.

GWC_3200Q: You’re somewhat of a superhero… salesman by day, Ultimate Extreme Open Water Ice swimming by night. What is the general reaction when you tell people about your hobby?

A: Superhero? Haha! I think not, but I’ll take it. I own and run Stramrood Connect Media Sales House, representing the Soccer Laduma platform, SowetoTV, YFM radio and Zee World (and often hassle Ogilvy’s Nicole Williams and Brad Page for business!) When it comes to light what I do in my spare time, I usually encounter a deep frown, a “Huh?!”, or lots of head-shaking.

Q: In a nutshell, how did this hobby come about?

A: Well its way more than a hobby now – together with some crazy mates, we now lead the world in developing extreme cold swimming and pushing human boundaries. Its been a long journey – a journey into cold – a lot of pain, a lot of exploration of boundaries – exploring the profoundly devastating effect the cold has on the human body and, more importantly, the mind. So extreme cold swimming is about learning to control this impact on the mind and channel the panic, pain and fear in a positive direction.

PolarPlunge-250Q: Chat us through what goes through your mind when you’re just about to jump into water temperatures below 5 degrees.

A: Before: TRAIN! Then FOCUS, get into the ZONE that allows you to control the impact of diving into ice water to offset panic reaction, and understand the EFFECTS of what will happen to you.
During: CONCENTRATE on your pace and TRUST your support crew and the knowledge that you’ve done the training and what you are feeling is familiar turf. Stay mentally strong and positive, and offset fear.
After: STAY IN THE ZONE. It is very important to accept and understand that the challenge only ends after the recovery period, once the shivering starts and then slows and the dangerous ‘after drop’ process ends. Once out of danger, relax, enjoy and process.

Q: What do you want people to take away from your talks?

A: Through my story, people realise that our minds are governed and controlled by a powerful default setting that makes us believe in our own limitations, keeping us in our comfort zone. When you believe in your own limitations, you have no reason to challenge them. If my audiences can understand that there is a default setting and begin to push their boundaries, it will change their lives.

Q: What would you want your tombstone to say about you?

A: Yoh, never thought about it…probably “Ryan – the best dad in the world” – cause that’s what’s really important.

Q: What are your words to live by?

A: Push Past Impossible (my quote – haha)

We’d just like to thank Ryan and Gill for making it out to host this How To Friday, it was an hour very well spent, and we are all better people for it. 

To find out more about Ryan and his incredible story, click here.

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