He is one of the most well-known personal trainers in the world, and even his own popularity can make Joe Wicks look around in disbelief.
The British fitness personality is currently in Australia, appeared in Melbourne’s Federation Square on February 25 and Sydney’s Taronga Zoo on February 26 to promote his fitness program, PE with Joe.
However, the 37-year-old said the journey to get where he currently is in his career has been one filled with twists and turns.
Joe has been open in the past about his experiences growing up in public housing after his mother left him at the age of 12 in the care of his father, who was addicted to heroin.
Joe, known online as The Body Coach, was born to a young mom who was 19 when she had him.
As a result of battling obsessive-compulsive disorder and an eating disorder, she never asked for help, too terrified her children would be taken away.
Speaking to news.com.au, Joe said when he was five and six years of age he was a troubled kid and disruptive at school as a result of his tumultuous home life.
But an introduction to physical education in school brought him peace.
“For me, it was like a release – exercising, running around, playing sports and moving my body – I just really felt like it released a lot of that anxiety and stress in my body,” he said.
“So that’s where I fell in love it. And from the age of about 13 I wanted to become a PE teacher.
“I had this vision of going to university and doing a degree to become a PE teacher.”
However, Joe chose to go down the training route instead and, a decade later, he doesn’t regret the move.
He began to post online, particularly on YouTube, and while he was having small successes he called it a “slower burn.”
But that all changed when COVID forced the world into their homes, Joe continued to livestream home workouts.
On the first Monday morning after the lockdown started, he hit a million viewers.
“It took things to another level because there were kids in the UK doing it live with their grandma or their uncles or Auntie’s in Australia, who were doing the class in the evening,” Joe said.
“It was a really good way of connecting people because they were doing Zoom and I think that was a real pivotal moment.”
Before that, Joe had been working with schools, visiting education facilities to do live workouts but not getting the same traction.
He said lockdown was unfortunate but it gave him a moment to give all his energy and love to the PE with Joe series, which were a huge success.
To date, he has 4.5 million followers on Instagram and another 3 million on YouTube.
People fell in love with Joe’s optimism and stance on health and fitness, which he said is about celebrating “small daily wins” by breaking down your goals into achievable tasks.
“Things like; ‘Can I get an hour extra sleep tonight? Can I make one healthy recipe today? And can I just do 20-minute walk on my lunch break?’ These little things add up,” he explained.
“I think focusing on that and really prioritizing your sleep [helps the rest come with it].
“You’re not going to be you know, perfect, you’re gonna have days where you get stressed and you turn to food or you have a booze up but it’s okay, give yourself a bit of grace, let yourself accept that and move on.
“And then the next day, you know, just say, right, I’m gonna have another crack and have another daily win. And those wins add up.”
His mission is to get people to see exercise differently, and as a way to help improve mental health.
He‘s also incredibly candid about his own struggles with health and fitness, even sharing his own body transformation after “eating cakes and biscuits every day”.
“I’ve been eating chocolate cakes and biscuits every day,” he opened up on social media last year.
“Three bacon sandwiches for breakfast, hash browns and beans. It’s not very good when I’m the Body Coach, is it?”
Joe took a picture from the side showing a tummy where there was once a set of abs.
He’s since shared a new selfie that revealed his six-pack was back as he posed in his bedroom in just a pair of undies last month.
Joe has also been visiting schools while in Australia with his family, and shared a few key insights as to how Aussies and Brits tackle fitness.
“Everyone is up at 6 or 7am in Australia, they’re running, cycling, surfing. You can see the kids on the beach, it’s part of their culture,” he said.
He added he thinks having nice weather is a huge factor in Australia, compared to the harsh conditions of the UK winter.
Throughout Joe’s career, he has hit some huge milestones, with PR with Joe being his proudest achievement.
He also said the World Record event he held in London for the world’s largest HIIT session with 4000 people was also a crowning achievement, especially considering five years prior he held a boot camp where no one turned up.
Joe, and his older brother Nikki, received an Order of the British Empire (MBE) from Princess Anne.
“[It was] pretty mad,” he said.
“We didn’t ever expect that and so that’s another really proud moment where we were just so overwhelmed.
“We’ve come from quite a difficult childhood with parents with addiction, and living in council estates to being Windsor Palace getting an MBE from the Princess was amazing.”