From an early age, ice swimmer and yoga instructor Lukas Bossert struggled to sit still. Whether he’s adventuring across the world, or putting his physical and mental boundaries to the test, Lukas lives in search of extremes. But over the last year, he’s enjoyed the slow pace of life as well as the strenuous – and in Berlin, he’s found the perfect balance.
In Berlin, Lukas explains, “you work to live – you don't live to work. That [makes] a huge difference in bigger cities.” Berlin’s reputation as Europe’s hedonistic capital for techno fans is well known. But over the last year and a half, COVID-19 lockdowns have altered city dwellers' pace of life, forcing a change in routine and a slower day-to-day existence. For Lukas, the change has been striking: “You can only look into the detail of beautiful things when you slow down.”
And it’s not just Berliners’ routines that have changed. Berlin has seen more bike lanes over the course of the pandemic, and like many, Lukas is thrilled by the change: “It’s just [made] it really fun for people to bike in the city.” And in a city with a topography ideal for cycling, riding is nothing but a joy: “Those long, flat streets are really amazing because you can just ride and ride and ride – you don't have to stop.”
But for Lukas, a good life comes down to balance. He describes his yearning for activity as a kind of calling: “For me, a calling means that I really have the urge to do something and I really crave it.” For the last three years, that craving has been satisfied by braving the sub-zero waters of nearby lakes through Germany’s bitter winter months. Rising early and heading out to the lake, Lukas describes the tingling feeling of anticipation before immersing himself into the water.
A series of deep, fast breathing exercises focuses the mind and readies the body, and he wades into the water in an almost meditative state. The icy water pieces the skin like a knife, taking his breath away. Every part of him is screaming to get out: “You have to push your mind to really make peace with the pain, accept the pain. Go into the water and really invite the cold water to sink into you.” It’s all in the mind, Lukas insists: “It's a mind game – you have to push your mind to tackle your biggest boundaries."
“You can only look into the detail of beautiful things when you slow down.”
The sensation after each swim? Unbeatable. “The first time it gave me such a rush of joy that it was easy to continue this journey – you easily get addicted to the feeling,” Lukas explains, “it just makes you feel like you can achieve anything.” Positive stress on the body, in Lukas’ opinion, is good for you – a means to clear the mind, combat any negative thoughts, and unwind after a stressful week: “You need these moments of either extreme relaxation or extreme sports or extreme dancing or partying or having fun… to kind of compensate for any stress.” For Lukas, life in Berlin has helped him achieve equilibrium. And with ice swimming’s growing popularity among Berliners, perhaps this demand for a slower, more balanced way of life is taking hold.
In the series Rider Stories, we explore perspectives on living and working in cities and beyond through the eyes of our riders.