Fitness guru Joe Wicks, aka the Body Coach, 36, on his documentary, cutting down his screen time and why kids need exercise more than ever.
How are you doing?
I’m good, thanks. I was just gonna try to work out but I’ve been lazy this morning and you know when you just put it off… I was gonna start earlier but I’ll do it after this.
You’re expecting your third child in September. Are you strict on compartmentalising your time?
When I filmed the Facing My Childhood documentary a year and a half ago, it was super intense. The DMs were coming in and I was exhausted and emotional. It caught me when things were quite overwhelming.
It looked like I was really torn and under pressure but I’ve got a much better balance now. My screen time’s down, I’m spending more time with the wife and kids, and I’ve got better boundaries, so I’m in a much more positive place.
It’s helped me become more productive as well. The documentary really helped me, it was like therapy. I still get emotional watching it.
What was it like working with Louis Theroux for it?
He’s such an amazing guy. He and the team handled it really sensitively. I’m going to constantly share the message around movement, exercise, mental health.
I even did the Hey Duggee workout for toddlers. We exercise so we feel happy and kids don’t often get told that.
You’re so popular with kids and they need more support now…
I really came alive when I started working with young people and visiting really deprived schools. These children have some really tough conditions at home and because I was a child in a low-income council flat, I can empathise with that.
There are waiting lists for months to get help, and mental health can deteriorate really fast if you don’t get seen quick enough.
Children need so much love and support. They need a positive male role model and inspiration to be active because life is easier when you’re active and healthy.
You’re an ambassador for the Youth Sports Trust and you led a world record attempt in Hyde Park for the most number of people at a HIIT class. How vital is collective exercise?
Kids need inspiration, they need motivation to move and to be active. My favourite thing to see is a family exercising together when you’ve got the mum, the dad, the teenager and a young toddler all together because then that’s really making an impact.
They’re really setting themselves up for a healthy life – that’s the holy grail for me. I do a lot of schools tours and when kids come together, you see their faces light up and you see how positive they feel at the end of it.
It doesn’t have to be costly to eat well and to exercise, does it?
Just try to go back to basics like cooking at home, avoiding processed food and takeaways, and keeping it simple. You can get a big bag of oats and have porridge for breakfast with some honey and peanut butter.
Noodles and veggie stir fries can be quite cheap and so can bulk cooking, like a big veggie chilli with tins of beans and pulses – there are ways of making cheap, healthy meals.
There’s also lots of free content out there. You can do my YouTube workouts, go for a bike ride, a walk – all movement is good for you.
How do you protect your own mental health?
Exercise, ice baths, going on a motorbike ride with my dad and brother in the fresh air. And now more than ever, being with the kids and plugging back into reality. I’m a social media persona but I actually have a life and I’ve got to be with them and be present.
Don’t film it. Don’t share it. Don’t record it. You don’t have to take photos of them every ten minutes. I’m not in a rush to do bedtime and storytelling and get back to my phone.
I’m going out for walks for an hour, not just 20 minutes and then back in the house on my phone. And because of that, I’m way happier and my relationships have improved. I’m still reaching a lot of people but I’m not going to bed at night, going, ‘I wish I’d done more DMs.’
How do you maintain your energy?
Sleep, food and exercise, that’s my energy source. And if one of those falls out of sync, everything’s harder.
The most underestimated thing is sleep – when you sleep well, the exercise and food choices come easy.
You’ve met many famous people. Who can’t you believe you’re mates with?
Wicks is a Lululemon global ambassador and led a world record HIIT group workout attempt in aid of the charity CALM.
For more details visitYouth Sport Trust.