Since the 36-year-old posted his first The Body Coach YouTube workout back in 2014, the Surrey-based personal trainer’s fame and social media follower count has risen faster than the heart monitor on a cross trainer.
Among other things, there were the PE with Joe videos, which millions tuned into during lockdown, and there have been 11 books, including the brand new Feel Good Food (HarperCollins, £20) with over 100 easy recipes to help boost mood and energy.
In 2020, he was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list, for his work keeping children mentally fit and physically active.
Now he’s on the road, with just one Scottish date of An Evening with Joe Wicks, where he’ll discuss his new book at Edinburgh’s Rose Street Theatre on Friday March 25. We spoke to him ahead of his appearance.
Have you been to Scotland before?
Big time, I love it up there. I recently went to the Highlands on my motorcycle with my little brother and my dad. It was spectacular. We went to John O’Groats and all along that beautiful coast. I’ve been up to Edinburgh and Glasgow before too, for book signings. I was up in Glasgow recently, and went to the HarperCollins distribution centre where they send out all the books.
What’s the format of your book event?
The Edinburgh one will be a proper Q&A. I’ll be on stage with someone interviewing me about the book and about my mission. The audience can ask questions.
Does that make you nervous?
I do get nervous. I still find it quite difficult and worry I won’t know the answer and look silly but I remember that everybody there is there to see you and they’re supporting you. I settle into it more than I used to.
Have you always been into fitness?
I was quite a disruptive kid at school. I found it hard to focus. Fitness helped me a lot in terms of letting a bit of stress out of my body. My mum and dad had mental health issues and it was quite challenging being at home so as a kid I remember always doing an after school club and playing football. I joined the gym at 16. That really helped. So I think it's been like the thing I've turned to from a very young age to help me get through.
What was the inspiration for the new book?
I sat down and went through my old books to see what’s missing and thought about what I could do to recipes to improve them or make them a bit more enjoyable. I also get inspired by restaurants I eat in if I’m travelling, other Instagram recipes or cookbooks. It’s getting harder now because I’ve done so many bloody books. You don’t want to come up with a silly gimmick for the sake of it. I want to create a book that’s mass market that people are going to really enjoy. I suppose with my books, it’s the same running theme, which is healthy food made easy and quick recipes. I think Feel Good Food is a really positive and uplifting message. We all want to feel good, have energy, and I think this is the right time for it, as people are really at their lowest point in terms of their physical and mental health. They’re struggling.
Is it important to enjoy treats, as well as eating healthily?
I've always had a balanced approach to that. I’m a massive chocolate fan. If it’s in the house, I’m all over it. I've also got an obsession with marmalade on toast. So if there's sourdough bread, and I've got a toaster and butter, and some fresh orange or grapefruit marmalade, I can’t help but eat it, it's like my Kryptonite.
Do you cook a lot at home?
Yeah. My wife Rosie also does a little bit too but I do 75-80 per cent of the cooking in the house, because, obviously, I’m making recipes for Instagram and sharing new videos and things. I really enjoy it. I find it quite relaxing. When I'm in the mood, I'll get the kids involved and we’ll have a little cooking session together. And I think that's an important thing for them. They really enjoy food and exercise because they've seen it’s such a big part of my life. They love my spaghetti bolognese and penne with sausage. Anything pasta. We have a pasta machine too so sometimes we’ll make our own.
It’s been a busy few years for you - what’s made you most proud?
PE with Joe. It was a really difficult time and I just wanted to help people get through the day and have a positive interaction and something fun to look forward to. All those millions of people that took part was definitely my proudest achievement and I look back at it with fond memories. I was living my dream. I've been trying to get kids exercising for so long and that was a positive moment.
I’m hoping to visit different schools and do a PE with Joe on tour thing. That’s something I’m really looking forward to. The primary school kids get really excited because they’ve seen me on YouTube and it’s great for someone to visit them in school and do the routines with them in person.
Tickets are £17 on www.eventbrite.co.uk