By Francesca Brown via Stylist
Photography: Conor McDonnell
Fitness coach, TV presenter and author Joe Wicks, who broke records as millions tuned into his morning workouts during lockdown, reflects on togetherness
“Everyone has felt lonely or disconnected at some point this year, but what we now know is that the more people talk about feeling low, the more it helps others to be honest about their own experiences.
By the time we all went into lockdown in March, I’d been doing PE With Joe for about four years, visiting schools and on Facebook Live. So when we were suddenly all shut indoors and no one could exercise, I thought, ‘Why not do an online class together?’ The response blew my mind. As soon as I announced the workouts, I expected it to be big – UK schools were including it in their newsletters – but on the first day the video reached almost 6 million views. People joined in from all around the world; from Iran, Pakistan, Peru, Australia and Fiji.
What people may not realise is that, similar to the people who tuned in every week day at 9am, the workouts also gave me purpose, structure and something to look forward to. Knowing we were all doing it together, in the same moment, through some of those strange and unsettling days. That’s a powerful thing. I had many messages on social media, plus letters and cards from people telling me how they’d been struggling but the classes were helping. I heard from people who had never exercised or were suffering from anxiety and stress, but the workouts gave them a 30-minute escape from Covid.
What really came out of these collective workouts, though, was the sense of community: it didn’t matter about your age, background, religion – everyone was doing it together. We had two-year-olds to 78-year-olds taking part. The link between exercise and our mental health has never been clearer and this year, the conversation finally got louder. It pays off to find purpose in every situation and push yourself out of your comfort zone and live in the moment. Even if that’s just in your living room.”
Joe will be running an exclusive bootcamp throughout January on his new app The Body Coach App. For more information, visit thebodycoach.com