Tag Archives: James Bond shower

Bathe Like Bond, The 007 Shower Experiment

21 Dec

Someday in the future I expect to get asked questions like this one:

“Hey, 007 Experiment Guy, how can I start living like James Bond within the next 30 seconds? Also note: I can barely afford a daily package of ramen noodles – so please don’t tell me to buy a Rolex Explorer online.”

Yes, in many ways we humans seem to live in a time-starved world and the only people who have patience are medical doctors who don’t spell right.  But in this case we’ve got a solid answer for our hypothetical and broke question-asker.


  1. Move away from your computer.
  2. Go to your bathroom.
  3. If you weren’t already naked, disrobe now.
  4. Step into the shower.
  5. Blast yourself with water from the cold tap only.
  6. Wonder if you should be taking advice from people on the internet.

Elapsed time: approx. 30 seconds

We are introduced to this hardcore version of the James Bond Shower in Chapter 2 of the novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, first published in April of 1963. After quickly downing a quarter of a bottle of Taittinger Blanc de Blancs, Bond “…then went into the bathroom and had an ice-cold shower and washed his hair…” Perhaps 007 drank the champagne to fortify himself for the chilly ordeal that followed.

What’s nice is that in order to emulate 007 in his ablutions you needn’t become a member of the Polar Bear Club outright. In chapter 11 of From Russia, With Love, published 6 years before OHMSS, we learn about the contrasting shower Bond likes to take following the calisthenics he performs to alleviate boredom. Here he showers under “very hot then cold hissing water for five minutes.“ You get to start with hot water – yay!

Why does Bond torture himself this way?

Part of Bond’s shower routine is due to the era he was living in. Medical historian Peter Morrell explains how in 1950s Great Britain, your average working class family members bathed once a week in a tin tub with water heated in a kettle on the coal burning stove. Bond is decidedly middle class and could afford a water heater but I believe he used it sparingly, partly because he’s a badass and partly because he had the austerity mindset that was common in post-WWII Great Britain. Cold bathing wasn’t torture, but habit.

Did this contrast shower help elevate his mood? An oft-cited medical article about the role of norepinephrine in depression casts doubt on this idea. However, in his book The 4 Hour Body,  Tim Ferriss points out that contrasting showers have effects that stimulate the immune system, evident in the increase of circulating norepinephrine. Maybe immune system exercise translates as pleasant emotions. From personal experience with the contrast shower I can say that whatever your mood just prior to the icy dowsing, you’re in for a system reboot.

How is this going to help me get ripped?

Being cold helps you burn fat. Cold to the point of shivering increases metabolism and burns evil ‘white’ fat by stimulating ‘brown’ fat to use the stored energy to keep the body’s core temperature steady.  The less white fat you have covering your sexy abs, the more visible they become. This Daily Mail article goes into further detail about the cold water effects on body fat.   Our 007 is described in From Russia, With Love as being 183 cm (6 feet) tall, weighing 76 kg (167.5 pounds). That’s about the same height and weight as Justin Timberlake, a fellow that few folks in the world would consider overweight. At the time of this writing I cannot give any information about Mr. Timberlake’s bathing habits (it probably involves swimming around Scrooge McDuck-style in a bank vault full of cash and women).

SexyBack circa 1957.

Ok. What’s the drill?

Someone whose bathing habits we do know a bit about is swimmer Michael Phelps. In addition to the Olympic swimming thing, apparently this gentleman is also afforded the luxury of ingesting 12,000 calories per day. Which is rather a lot, by most estimations of caloric intake, yet he decidedly does not resemble a whale. NASA boffin Ray Cronise drew inspiration from this factoid and added science to it in order to discover how someone could ingest so many calories yet still be built like, well, an Olympic swimmer. The calories-in/calories-out, eating/exercise math didn’t add up. Cronise’s “eureka!” moment came when he recalled that the energy Phelps’ body was putting into maintaining his core temperature in cool pool water accounted for the difference. Cronise experimented on himself and lost a lot of fat in a short period of time in the process. His fat burning successes piqued Tim Ferriss’ curiosity and Ferriss, in turn, created the following protocol (excerpted from The 4 Hour Body):

“Take 5–10-minute cold showers before breakfast and/or before bed. Use hot water for 1–2 minutes over the entire body, then step out of water range and apply shampoo and soap to your hair and face. Turn the water to pure cold and rinse your head and face alone. Then turn around and back into the water, focusing the water on your lower neck and upper back. Maintain this position for 1–3 minutes as you acclimate and apply soap to all the necessary regions. Then turn around and rinse normally. Expect this to wake you up like a foghorn.”

I appreciate how Ferriss’ steps are reminiscent of the Hokey-Pokey. I wouldn’t recommend, however, standing on one leg in the shower while shaking the other leg “all about.”

To make your literary James Bond Shower even more authentic, you might avail yourself of some Pinaud Elixir Shampoo as mentioned in OHMSS. That link goes to a nifty article about it from jamesbondlifestyle.com. Should you have some extra bottles of the stuff lying around, you might consider making a bit of money from selling your surplus at $150 a bottle to keenly interested parties posting on this thread from the awesome shaving website badgerandblade.com. That’s worth a lot of ramen noodles! Bond’s preferred bath soap is never mentioned in Fleming’s books – perhaps he didn’t use any, but this lively thread from Absolutely James Bond (abj007.co.uk) might help you figure out the aftershave situation that will get your face smelling like that of our favorite fictitious espionage agent.

Warning to the gentlemen readers: This shower protocol will also increase your testosterone levels and enhance your libido, according to The 4 Hour Body and this badass article from The Art of Manliness. Please bathe responsibly.