Five years ago, Joe Wicks was a nobody with a fit body. When his dad lent him £2,000 to set up his own business as a personal trainer, he had no idea if he would ever be able to pay him back. But what started with Wicks posting a few videos on YouTube and Instagram from his tiny flat in Surbiton in south London has ended with him becoming the youthful face of fitness in Britain.
His first book, Lean in 15, published at the end of 2015, sold more than a million copies and his workouts are now watched by two million fans every week. He has also launched the Body Coach HQ to support more than 150,000 paying clients who have signed up to one of his online fitness plans.
With his down-to-earth attitude and straight-talking advice, Joe’s everyman appeal has him hailed as the Jamie Oliver of the fitness world. Now, at the age of 32, he earns a reported £1 million a month, has paid back his parents and is building himself a mansion. It’s a far cry from his childhood growing up on a council estate in Surbiton.
Back on Channel 4 this week to inspire us all into good health, here he gives RT his top food and fitness tips for 2018…
Joe’s top 5 food tips
Everyone thinks depressing diets are healthy. Fasting is not sustainable or enjoyable, yet we’ve been conditioned to think the only way to burn fat is to cut out all the things we love and spend hours in the gym. How can anyone live like that? Don’t starve yourself; train, then refuel your body. You can’t smash your business and be a mum or a dad on 1,000 calories a day. I don’t count calories — listen to your body and adjust your portions depending on how hungry you are.
Don’t fear carbs
People think you need zero carbs to be lean but who doesn’t love rice, bagels or noodles? Getting carbs in your body after training helps you to recover. Enjoy them and see them as a reward.
You might find certain food makes you feel like you’re having a food baby, in which case eliminate them from your diet.
For me, it’s sugar. If I have a fizzy drink and an ice cream, I get a sore tummy and a headache. Never eat food that drains you of energy; eat food that makes you feel awesome. But that’s my only rule.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep regulates your hormones and energy levels, so getting a good night’s kip is essential. Before I go to bed I put the Mellow Magic station on the radio and use an oil diffuser — it puts me to sleep straight away.
I haven’t got a TV in my room and I don’t look at my phone when I go to bed; my room is a sanctuary. There’s no furniture, either — just a bed. It’s completely bare — I love it.
Prep like a boss
When I have friends over for dinner, I can stand at the barbecue all day cooking and chatting but during the week that’s just not possible. So I make a big saucepan of chilli or curry that’ll set me up for the week. Batch-cooking meals means you can just whack your healthy dinner in the microwave when you get home.
Don’t turn a bad day into a bad week
If you have a high-calorie meal, don’t feel bad and then keep comfort eating, because before you know it you’ve had a bad week. I probably have a blowout like a burger with truffle fries and mac and cheese, followed by a chocolate fondant and a cocktail, once a week.
Going out for dinner and having a starter, main and dessert with wine isn’t a “cheat meal”, it’s called “living”. Don’t be too hard on yourself; get back on track the next day.
Joe’s top 5 workout tips
Set a goal
I call weighing scales “the sad step”, because they only measure your weight, not your body composition. I’ve had clients who look amazing after two months of working hard but they’ve only lost two pounds because they’re getting denser with more muscle and less fat.
So it’s better to focus on other things. Enter a 5km race, buy a pair of jeans you want to get into, or start a new sport.
Sometimes, saying “I want to lose a stone” isn’t enough and you need more interesting motivation. My motivation is often a photoshoot I want to get in shape for, but I’ve done triathlons, the London Marathon [in 2015], and I’ve cycled from Vancouver to Mexico. The key is to not get stuck in a rut.
Don’t be afraid to lift weights
Don’t just stick to jogging: you shouldn’t be afraid of strength work. Research shows it improves arthritis and bone density and may delay dementia, so incorporate resistance training into your routine.
A little set of dumbbells is fine, or you can even just use your body weight by doing lunges or squats. I ran a competition recently and a 70-year-old did full press-ups for a whole minute. She was amazing. Everyone finds fitness at a different time in their lives, but it is so important for your health and happiness as you get older.
It’s the early bird that catches the worm
Try to work out in the morning. I used to be terrible in the mornings! I’ve had to train myself to get up early. I go to my little home gym at 8am on an empty stomach and feel amazing afterwards.
And as life has got busier for me, I find a morning workout gives me focus right through to the evening and I can spend the day thinking, “I don’t want to eat that chocolate.”
Schedule your exercise
I wouldn’t miss my workout any more than I’d miss a meeting. You can do a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout in 15 minutes. I don’t care how many kids you’ve got, what company you run — everybody can spare 15 minutes.
I’m really into home workouts because it’s minimal fuss. You can do it when you’re waiting for your pasta to boil or your bath to run.
Enjoy the burn
I love exercise: I love the pain when it feels like my legs are on fire, and even when I feel sick, I know the endorphins will hit me soon. But I know others aren’t the same and that it’s not a priority for everybody, so just fit it in where you can and try to have fun with it.