FITNESS guru Joe Wicks is now a global superstar – but his rise was no walk in the park.
The six-pack king was just an Ordinary Joe nine years ago when he graduated from a personal-training college and set up his own bootcamp — only for no one to attend.
David Cummings – The Sun Fitness guru Joe Wicks has two million followers on social media
He says: “I’d cycle 40 minutes to Richmond really early in the morning and set up all my equipment but no one would turn up. I found that whole period really challenging.
“I wasn’t depressed but when I think back I get emotional because I feel proud I kept going when lots of people wouldn’t. I’d borrowed off my dad to do my personal-training course and thought I was never going to be able to pay him back.
“I remember getting really upset one night and he said, ‘Joe, I don’t care if you never pay me back, as long as you do what you love.’
“It’s always emotional for me when I think back to that moment.”
David Cummings – The Sun Joe talks to Jenny Francis about how he came from humble beginnings before being propelled into stardom Fitness coach Joe Wicks breaks world record for largest ever HIIT session
The rest is history, as the curly-haired star, 32, has taken over the world with his at-home workouts and quick-and-easy recipes.
Stellar book and DVD sales are complemented by a social media account about to tip two million followers — and in July he set a Guinness World Record by leading the most people doing a HIIT workout at one time — 3,804 in London’s Hyde Park.
His second DVD, Lean In 15 Workouts, launches on Monday and he exclusively invited The Sun to the set in Lake Como, Italy, for a fitness masterclass.
But looking back, what advice would he have given his 18-year-old self? He says: “It would have been not to worry too much.
David Cummings – The Sun When Joe started his first bootcamp he said no one came and he had no money to pay his debts
“Age 18, I worried about everything. Who am I? What am I doing? Why does my friend have a nice flat and I still live with my parents?
“My little brother George is like that now and I say, ‘Mate, don’t worry.’ I was living in Thailand in my early twenties, with no idea what to do.
“He’s 21, so I tell him to enjoy it and, when you do find something you love, work hard and you’ll become successful. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been — and more ambitious than ever. I want to keep reaching more people.
“I have an amazing little nephew, Oscar, who is the love of my life and he’s become part of the Joe Wicks story. I hope he can look back in a few years and like being part of it.
David Cummings – The Sun Joe exclusively invited The Sun to Lake Como, Italy, for a fitness masterclass
“I want a family myself soon. I love Oscar so much it’s made me think, ‘Imagine if he was my kid, imagine how much I’d love him then.’
“I have a cot at my house for him. I feed him and put him in bed and it’s the only time I disconnect completely from the world and put my phone down. Normally I’m always on my phone, but for 20 minutes I simply stare at him until he falls asleep.”
You may think Joe, who reportedly earns more than a million pounds a month, would revel in the celebrity lifestyle. But he says: “I didn’t set out to be a celebrity, although I wanted to be successful.
“I go to awards ceremonies, with all these celebrities, and don’t feel I’ll ever fit in with that crowd. It’s not me, I’m not impressed by that.
David Cummings – The Sun In July he set a Guinness World Record by leading the most people doing a HIIT workout at one time in London’s Hyde Park
“I know what I’m doing is good, and in order to get my message to more people I have to be on TV and release books, so that’s what I do. I’m lucky. I’ve got good friends and family and if I was to be flash or arrogant, they would tell me.
“You do see celebs who become successful quickly and change. To be successful long-term, I have to be authentic and not that flash guy.
“My social media isn’t about me, it’s about you. Why are you following me? What do you want to get from my content? My message is, ‘Go and do a workout and feel great. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve had a bad meal, just have a good one later’.”
All his social media is run by him, his workouts are composed by him, his meals are cooked and created by him — and he refuses to post online sponsored content. He says: “Brands offer me silly money to promote products but I think, ‘Is this going to benefit my audience? Do they want to see me promote a juice diet?’ I don’t think that’s going to be good for them, so why promote it?
David Cummings – The Sun Joe takes pride in the fact that he never posts sponsored products to his page because he doesn’t believe it benefits his audience
“If I start promoting rubbish, they’ll think, ‘You used to make me laugh, or make me cook, now you’re just selling my attention to advertisers’.”
Joe insists anyone can get fit with him. He says: “My first DVD was really important to me. I wanted to give people more than my YouTube videos so did lots of different-length workouts. This time, I’ve gone back to basics — and all these workouts are just 15 minutes.
“Lots of people say it’s not enough but I’ve proven, if you train hard, it is.
“My workouts give you a calorie deficit and, if you eat well too, you burn fat like crazy. Most of us can’t fit two hours into our day to go to a gym.
Handout Joe’s new DVD, Lean In 15 Workouts, only costs £19.99
“High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is all my workouts, makes you feel good because it releases endorphins and serotonin.
“I feel amazing, like I can take on the world, after a session. I’m addicted to that and want people to get the DVD and feel the same.”
- Joe Wicks’ new DVD, Lean In 15 Workouts, is out now, costing £19.99.
Have a go at his 15-min fatburner
HERE’S Joe on the banks of Lake Como, Italy, putting Sun girl JENNY FRANCIS through one of his 15-minute HIIT workouts.
If trying this at home, or down the gym, perform each exercise for 30 seconds, then give yourself a 30-second break before moving on to the next.
Repeat circuit four times
Always do a warm-up before exercising.
David Cummings – The Sun Feel the burn with these twist squats
TAKE a wide step with your left leg out to the side of you and bend the right knee, keeping the left leg straight, bum pushed back and chest upright as possible.
Bring your left hand to touch the floor then spring up off the right leg and swap sides.
David Cummings – The Sun The key is to lift your knee up as high as possible
START in the standing position and – while running on the spot as fast as you can, lifting your knees up as high as possible – punch the sky with alternating hands as if climbing a vertical rope.
David Cummings – The Sun Make sure you perform these exercises for 30 seconds each and then give yourself a 30-second break
STEP forward, landing softly with a bend on the knee.
Sink down, making sure your knee remains directly above your ankle.
Push up through the front foot and back to standing position.
Repeat with the opposite leg.
David Cummings – The Sun Try and keep your back straight you as perform this exercise
START in a press-up position on the ground then bring one knee up toward the outside shoulder and hold for one second, before returning to plank position.
Repeat with the other leg.
Joe Wicks gives his top HIIT training tips on Good Morning Britain