By Louise & Jack
I’ll be honest. Before lockdown, I didn’t know who Joe Wicks was. I vaguely knew the name, but if he’d have walked into my house I wouldn’t have known him from Adam.
But when I heard that he was going to be doing PE classes for kids every morning of lockdown, I was immediately on board. In lieu of the boys daily ‘wake-up shake-up’ at school, this seemed like the next best thing. So on day one we all joined in to see what it was like. I was wearing my jeans and a jumper, figuring the exercises would be easy enough if they were for kids (I do do a weekly HIIT class after all!) but after a few minutes I was sweating, panting and laughing and I realised this Joe person was the real deal!
So, morning after morning we woke the boys up to get ready for PE with Mr Wicks, and morning after morning the four of us worked out together in our ‘gym’. It’s the first time ever my husband and I have worked out together. Luke and Jack loved seeing Mum and Dad doing synchronised Pikachus and Duck Walks! (If you don’t know what they are then you need to tune in to YouTube at 9am every weekday morning.)
Joe seemed like such a good role model for kids. His passion for exercise and good food really resonates, so I was eager to have a chat with him to find out more.
He agreed to talk with us, so my eldest, Luke, and I FaceTimed him, and he bounded onto screen with his usual infectious energy. We introduced ourselves and asked how he was managing with his hand. At the time of writing, Joe has been in hospital with a broken wrist, and his wife, Rosie, has been helping demonstrate the moves. He laughs that he ‘feels like a gameshow host’ while she does all the work. He is incredibly thankful for Rosie’s help; his adoration is apparent on TV and during our call. He gushes over what a good team they make.
He goes on to tell us how he’s really missing his friends and family during lockdown, but is finding the days and weeks are going so quickly, he is happy just to get on with it and is loving doing the PE classes. We thank him sincerely for them - personally, I’ve been finding daily exercise a surprising life-line during lockdown - and he immediately asks us if we’ve been doing them every day! Thankfully, we can truthfully answer that we have!
Luke asks Joe how and why he got into fitness as a career, and Joe explained it all started at a very young age. When he was at school he loved PE, team sports and cross-country and found it helped him focus and kept him productive in class. Even though he was just a boy, Joe recognised that exercise made him happy, so it was his natural reaction just to keep doing it. Even today he’s calls himself Captain Serotonin.
He tells Luke his advice for any children who think they’d like to do what he does, is just to find something they love doing and the rest will follow. Joe’s aim was always to become a PE Teacher after college. His direction changed slightly along the way and he became a personal trainer, but he loves that life has now come full circle and he has ended up teaching PE to the world - a bigger class than he ever envisaged.
It’s clear from his lessons and the world map on his living room wall that Joe gets a real kick out of his class gaining international status, and attracting pupils from all over the world. He spends half the year at his home in Santa Monica, and absolutely loves travelling and exotic food. He tells us that his favourite place in the world is Costa Rica where he went on holiday with Rosie and Indie before Marley was born; the food and the wildlife just blew him away and how he longs to go back there another day.
It was at this point Jack (our youngest) came running in and jumped on my knee! Joe says a warm hello to him too and the boys ask if Joe will give them a shout-out on tomorrows lesson. Joe diplomatically says he’ll go one better and give them a shout-out now, and says ‘Luke and Jack, my little heroes, thank-you so much for taking part in PE with Joe’. That makes their day!
Jack runs away happy and we start talking about Joe’s cook books. He may be an expert at exercise, but that’s only part of his passion. Famous for his ‘Lean in 15’ series of books, he’s a dab hand in the kitchen and his books were all instant best sellers. He tells us he loves cooking, and does the lion’s share at home. He’s helped develop recipes for cooking subscription box, Gusto, too, which marries into his belief that good food doesn’t have to be overly fancy or take ages. We talk about his favourite foods and he laughs that ice-cream doesn’t last long in their house, and if he manages to find a loaf of bread and a jar of marmalade in the cupboard then he is a happy man.
It’s not surprising Joe has just published a weaning book too, ‘Wean in 15’; a book with 100 weaning ideas and loads of up-to-date advice for parents with babies and toddlers. Being dad to Indie (2) and Marley (6months), he knows the importance of introducing good food to kids at an early age, and this new book does exactly that.
It’s clear from the screen and from our chat that Joe loves being a dad. He tells us that since becoming a father he has experienced nothing but contentment. He now feels peaceful, like he has everything he needs. He’s says he’s no longer chasing anything, he has achieved exactly what he was supposed to do.
We talk about work-life balance and he explains he and Rosie don’t have a nanny or use any childcare just yet, they prefer to share the childcare between them, and thankfully both Joe’s and Rosie’s mums live close by to help if needed, and allow the occasional date-night.
We chat a bit about Edinburgh and he explains how he longs to be able to come back here as part of his next tour, as and when life gets back to normal. He talks fondly about Currie Primary School when he did a book-signing there. His plan, when restrictions lift, is to do a world tour of primary schools and take his classes everywhere.
Hopefully that happens sooner, rather than later, but in the meantime, Joe - a huge thank-you for your energy, commitment and inspiration every single morning.