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Joe Wicks: “If I could bottle motivation it would be incredible”

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Lisa Smosarski
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Joe Wicks The Body Coach

Snacking, exercising and life after lockdown – fitness expert Joe Wicks talks to Stylist about getting the nation fit during lockdown, as well as how he’s dealing with the issues affecting us all.      

He’s got the UK moving and motivated while we’re all in lockdown with his daily PE lessons for children – and adults. But Joe Wicks is only just getting started.

WHY IS NOW A GOOD TIME TO BE MOVING MORE?

I think that now, during this period where we’re at home, we have more time to look after ourselves. We have more time to get a better night’s sleep. We’re commuting less, travelling less. I truly believe that a morning workout is quite transformative to your outlook for the day. I think when you do it in the morning it just lifts your mood and your spirits a little bit, and you feel a bit more optimistic and stressful things don’t feel as bad. There’s so much great content online. That’s what people are going to wake up to and realise: I don’t need to have an expensive gym membership and commute there and back to feel good and energised.

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ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES MANY PEOPLE WILL HAVE IS MOTIVATION: WHY GET OUT OF BED AND SHOWER WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO COMMUTE? DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS TO COMBAT THAT?

If I could bottle motivation and give it away to the world it would just be the most incredible thing. It’s the hardest thing to get across to some people because maybe they’re not into exercise, maybe they’ve been sedentary as young people. I always say you have to remember that the motivation comes from the end of the workout. It’s when you’ve gone for a bike ride or a walk and you feel more energised afterwards. I know when I get up and do 20 minutes of exercise, I feel better for it. My mind clears, it kind of calms me down, I’m more patient because exercise is powerful… you can change your mental state through physical exercise. It is reminding yourself that you’re going to feel better just doing something.

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A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT SNACKING MORE AT HOME… AS A NUTRITIONIST WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND?

I’m doing exactly the same – it’s boredom. It’s like we’re in Christmas holiday mode when you eat more food than you normally do. I believe in focusing on three meals. I have a big breakfast, like a massive bowl of porridge with peanut butter, chia seeds and berries. And then at lunchtime, a nice big omelette with cheese and veggies and some sort of greens on the side. And in the evening, a homemade curry or stir-fry. So I’m giving myself quite nutritious meals and then I’m not really craving anything in between.  

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ON RUSSELL BRAND’S PODCAST YOU WERE DISCUSSING MEDITATION, WHICH HE WAS SURPRISED YOU DIDN’T DO. HE WAS PERSUADING YOU TO TRY IT, HAVE YOU GIVEN IT A GO YET?

[Laughs] He texted me a link to a 30-minute YouTube video, like a guided meditation. I went to do it last night and ended up watching an episode of Tiger King with my wife Rosie – I just wanted to shut my brain off and watch some entertainment. But it’s in my diary today; so I’m really going to try. I know it’s one of those things that the more you practise, the more you get out of it. I’m very disciplined with food and fitness, but the meditation stuff I find quite challenging.

A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE THINKING ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT TO GET OUT OF LIFE AFTER THIS STRANGE PERIOD OF TIME. CAN YOU RELATE?

Yeah, because if I think back to what I’ve been doing since I started out as The Body Coach, and then it’s Lean In 15, and then a book deal… always this constant movement forward. I’ve never really stopped to actually acknowledge, what am I doing with my life? Like, am I generous enough? Am I kind enough with my time? Now I actually think: You are doing what you should be doing. You’re doing a 30-minute workout every day when you don’t need to be and you love it, and there’s people all around the world doing it. But I’m also thinking, what else can I do? I don’t want to do the PE thing and then it gets forgotten about. I want to change the education system in the UK forever. My mind has opened up and I’m thinking, how can I reach more people and help more people around the world?

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PE With Joe is streamed live on YouTube every weekday at 9am; hear more from Joe Wicks in episode two of our new podcast, Working From Home With Stylist, out 15 April. 

Image: CONOR MCDONNELL