Celebrity Fitness: Joe Wicks bares all! In his most candid interview yet

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Celebrity Fitness: Joe Wicks bares all! In his most candid interview yet

Celebrity Fitness:

For someone who has sold three million healthy eating books, and built a beautiful body and an enviable reputation on exercise and primarily plant-based diets, Joe Wicks doesn’t half talk a lot of burger.

‘Oh, I love a good burger, I really do,’ he says. ‘With chips and a beer and ice cream afterwards.’

What? This isn’t what I expected from the man known as the Body Coach, a ripped and fit 32-year-old whose doe-eyed good looks and boyband curls have launched him into keep-fit superstardom. To his 2.6 million Instagram followers and the 700,000 YouTube fans who follow his Lean In 15 recipes and Body Coach workouts, Joe is all about the sweet potato, the cacao nib, the ‘banging’ low-carb chicken bowl and the endless grim ways with broccoli, which he calls ‘midget trees’ because he’s that kind of guy.

Joe Wicks (pictured), 32, who lives in Richmond, Surrey, revealed how he became known as The Body Coach, selling three million books on healthy eating 

He urges 15-minute high-intensity workouts, followed by meals made in 15 minutes which feature lots of veg, grains and lean proteins.

Where do the burgers fit in to this admirable crusade?

They don’t, but Joe loves ’em anyway. He had ‘about four’ over a recent Bank Holiday weekend and, when he gets married this summer to his page-three glamour model fiancée Rosie Jones, he is going to have burger trucks supplying the wedding feast.

Listen. There are limits. He hasn’t had a kebab for ‘at least ten years’, but finds the lure of the meat patty irresistible. ‘You can always work it off the next day,’ he says.

But can you, Joe? Can you?

Yes, he can. Joe Wicks has become the go-to fitness guru for the Instagram age; a millennial-friendly dude whose bish-bash-bosh approach, high-pitched mockney accent and devotion to midget-tree nirvana make him an unholy muscled melange of Jamie Oliver and Russell Brand.

His grooming routine, he says, is practically non-existent. He uses ‘just a bit of coconut oil’ on his face and body and has never spent more than £20 on a haircut. ‘My curls just happen,’ he shrugs.

Yet, like whey powder and multiple hip flexors, he is an acquired taste. When he launched his Channel 4 television series, The Body Coach, in 2016, viewers seemed to be enchanted and irritated in equal measure as he tossed vegetables into his blender yelling ‘Naughtyyy!’ and ‘Cheeeeky!’

Joe (pictured with fiancee Rosie Jones and baby Indie) believes one 15-minute exercise session each day is all that is needed to keep fit

Joe is a ‘seductive, sincere smoothie’ who looks ‘like Jesus in activewear’ according to one reviewer, while another dismissed him as ‘Britain’s most insanely irritating celebrity’.

Across his social platforms, where he appears like a high-octane cult leader, Joe is relentlessly cheery and approachable, never critical or judgemental. He does burpees in his man bun; he exercises with his nine-month-old baby girl Indie strapped to his chest; and he tries to make it all fun, yeah?

‘I’m not a military-style guy. I’m very, like, relatable,’ is how he puts it. ‘People love the realness of my workouts.’

He is not into extremes, such as veganism, clean eating or the brutality of the raw diet and the 5am workout. He says that one 15‑minute session per day is all you need to keep fit.

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People follow Joe Wicks on Facebook

His methods reflect the dieting and fitness efforts of those in the real world and he is the first to admit he is not perfect himself. ‘I don’t want people to compare themselves to me and feel bad. I want to be inspiring, not to depress them,’ he says. ‘Having a perfect set of abs will not bring you happiness, but eating healthy food and exercising will.’

Speaking of which, Joe is worried that following his burger blowout he is not looking his best for our photographs. But when he peels off his shirt he looks just, um, fine.

It is a central part of his appeal that his torso could out-scythe Captain Poldark’s any day of the week, but he talks about his phwoar factor with detached modesty.

Joe (pictured) is currently on a mission to get a million more schoolchildren exercising every week in addition to working with Gousto

‘It’s always the same. I turn up at photoshoots and someone hands me a bit of broccoli, then says: “Get your kit off and put some oil on your chest, mate.” But I don’t feel I am treated like a sex symbol. I get treated nice. I joke about it. I’m a fitness trainer and, yeah, people want to see my physique. It helps me. It helps me promote my business and my missions.’

At the moment, those missions include a quest to get a million more schoolchildren exercising every week and a tie-in with Gousto, the meal kit retailers, who supply their customers with boxes containing pre-measured fresh ingredients and recipe cards.

Its Joe Wicks range includes many of his own favourite recipes, including chicken satay with peanut sauce, a herby haddock stew and a wholewheat noodle stir fry.

He went with Gousto after turning down a deal with a supermarket chain for ‘a life-changing amount of money’ because they wanted to produce Joe Wicks-branded ready meals, microwave dinners and sandwiches. ‘I wasn’t into that,’ he says. ‘All those saturated fats and sugars. I thought, would I want my mum and dad to eat this? No I would not.

‘I spent five years encouraging people to make their own Lean In 15 meals. I couldn’t then turn around and sell them a ready-made stir fry. Even though the supermarket offered me a minimum of a £1 million a year for two years.’

The Body Coach (pictured with Indie) says there’s always an affordable option for eating healthily but it comes down to an individual’s choice on what to spend their money on 

He shakes his head, and his lovely curls bounce with the horror of it all. Sometimes Joe, with his ‘Naughtyyyy!’ and his midget trees, his selfie sticks and his trusting, placid gaze, can seem a little guileless. But he has a pragmatic streak. ‘I could have taken the money,’ he adds. ‘But it would have been damaging to the brand long-term.’

He does not believe that healthy eating has to be expensive, or beyond the pocket of the low-waged. ‘I didn’t realise how many people rely on food banks. It depends on how deprived they are, but I always think there’s got to be one affordable option. It could be oats and eggs for breakfast.

‘There are cheap alternatives and planning your meals for the week helps, but it depends on what people are spending their money on, doesn’t it? Are they buying clothes and cigarettes and alcohol, or are they buying healthy food? It just comes down to choices.’ Estimates put his wealth at around £14 million, which is not bad for someone who is neither a nutritionist nor a chef, with only a sports science degree to his name.

My dad had been a heroin addict from a very young age and I was exposed to the damage of that on a daily basis 

Today he is one of the best-selling cookbook authors in the country, outperforming Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson and Rick Stein while fast creeping up on numero uno, his hero Jamie Oliver.

‘I made a lot of money, very fast,’ he says, although he is ‘a saver not a spender by nature’. The first thing he did when he came into wealth was to buy his mother a house, while he and Rosie live in a three-bedroom home in Richmond, Surrey. His only extravagances are a motorised skateboard, a Mini Cooper and nice holidays, although he doesn’t fly first class. ‘I mean, it’s triple the price, innit? And you all get there at the same time.’

Joe (pictured) who was the middle child of three boys, recalls his father being in and out of the home throughout his childhood due to addiction

Many think that after achieving that most elusive objective of modern existence — monetising his social media accounts — Joe Wicks must have had some sort of master plan sketched out on the back of a cotton napkin. Or that his smooth progression to the top of the celebrity wellness league was facilitated by a lucrative family background, excellent contacts and the shadowy presence of some professional Svengali. But it wasn’t like that. It was nothing like that.

Joe grew up in a chaotic home on a council estate in Epsom, Surrey. He was the middle of three boys — between big brother Nikki, 34, and little brother George, 23, — born to parents who never married and had more than their share of troubles. His roofer father Gary was a heroin addict, while his mother Raquela was ‘on the social’.

‘Dad was in and out of the home because he was battling with addiction, often in rehab,’ recalls Joe. ‘He had been a heroin addict from a very young age and I was exposed to the damage of that on a daily basis. Some of my friends had wonderful home lives, but they ended up doing drugs and going down that route. I never wanted to be like that. My dad’s example put me off drugs for life.’

To look at him now, glowing with health and focus, you would never guess that Joe was an asthmatic kid with skinny legs; a self-confessed ‘class clown’ who grew up on the most terrible of diets.

‘We weren’t educated about food. It was all buy-one-get-one-free at the supermarket. It was crisps and chocolate and frozen chicken pies. Coke and sugar. Sunny Delight, midget gems and Wagon Wheels.

Joe (pictured with Indie) says many of his father’s friends didn’t make it through addiction and he’s glad that he’s clean now

‘Fruit and vegetables were non-existent in my house. Mum is Italian and she could only make one dish, a lasagne made with Dolmio sauces. That was my favourite.’

Despite the difficulties it seems to have been a home full of love and, although his parents split for good around 2001, they remain a close family. ‘We all have big get-togethers. It’s cool,’ he says.

His mother had left school at 15 and had Nikki when she was 16, but later went back to college and qualified as a social worker. His father beat his addictions and ran the London Marathon this year.

‘I am proud of my story and I am so proud of my parents,’ says Joe. ‘Mum is a wonderful person, she really helps people in the community, and Dad is fine.

‘He had been an addict for the majority of his life, but he is clean now, which is important. He’s there to support me and we have a great relationship. So many of his friends didn’t make it through addiction. I am just very grateful that he did.’

Never mind the triumph of weight loss and fitness goals, this must be Joe’s most inspirational story of all; remarkable proof that a difficult upbringing and being exposed to the full horror of parental addiction doesn’t always have to end in tears and a dead-end life.

‘No,’ he says. ‘I became a great example of the fact that you don’t have to follow in your parents’ footsteps. You don’t have to repeat the addiction cycle, you can change the culture.’

Joe (pictured) revealed he became The Body Coach by launching a boot camp in Surrey Park that he would hold rain or shine

It certainly helps to explain his bottomless reserves of positivity — I am becoming less cynical about him by the second — and his personal mantra of ‘work hard, have fun and be nice’. Normally I might think: ‘Ugh! How nauseating!’ Now I think: ‘Good on you, Joe.’

‘Even if times are tough, I can see the positive in anything,’ he says. ‘I just trained myself to be more optimistic. I don’t like holding negative energy. In order to move forward, you have to think about making yourself happy in the moment,’ and he is living proof that exercise and healthy food are key.

Joe started off by launching a boot camp in a Surrey park, passing out flyers at the Tube station. He would get up every day at 5.30am, rain or shine, to hold his class — and some mornings no one came.

He battled on, building up a clientele of mums with tums and busy dads. Soon he realised that ‘no matter how many times I trained a person, if they didn’t change their diet and lifestyle we wouldn’t get results. If I wanted to be successful as a trainer, I had to get them to eat better.’

And so, The Body Coach was born. Today, you can buy Joe in a bookshop, slot in his DVD, ask for him through Alexa or watch him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Soon, you will be getting even more of him as, inspired by fatherhood, he is launching Wean In 15 to help parents feed their children in a healthy way.

Joe (pictured with Rosie and Indie) says his daughter has opened him up to a whole new world, he is set to debut a book on baby food next year

‘Indie has opened up a whole new world for me,’ says Joe. ‘What I’m realising is that parents are nervous about feeding their babies good stuff. Some of them don’t know what to do.’

To help out, there is now a Wean In 15 Instagram account with an accompanying book to be published next year. Mums and dads must brace themselves to learn all about sweet potato and spinach purees, asparagus and kale mixes, plus the power of butternut squash.

All this might sound obvious, but Joe has been monitoring Indie’s food intake from the start, not always in joyous ways.

‘The nappies are a shock now because she has started eating like a human. In the beginning it was like nothing, it didn’t even smell. But now she is eating berries and kidney beans, it has certainly . . . changed.’

No midget gems for Indie: it’s midget trees all the way for this gorgeous little baby, even though her father worries about her online exposure. ‘I love sharing Indie, but I don’t want to make her like this famous baby if she doesn’t want to be one,’ he says, though it might be too late for that.

Still, just look at the three of them: handsome Papa Bear, beautiful Mummy Bear and adorable Baby Bear — a triumvirate of cute, a marketing man’s dream, three medal winners on the Insta-podium of life.

The Body Coach (pictured with Rosie and Indie) revealed that he once thought that he would never get married

Joe proposed to Rosie last year when they were on holiday in the Maldives and they plan a small wedding in the UK over the summer. He wants at least three more children, even though he never saw himself as the marrying sort.

‘When you come from a family with no positive relationship models, you think you will never get married,’ he says, as if he still cannot quite believe his remarkable upturn of good fortune.

Despite the ‘banging’ success and the adoring fans, he remains a childlike man of modest tastes, his life of healthy discipline tempered by the occasional gin and tonic and the odd burger. Cheeeekyyy!

Joe Wicks Lean In 15 recipes are at gousto.co.uk. Meals from £2.98 per person

JOE WICKS RECIPES

JOE’S SATAY SWEET POTATO & KALE CURRY

Joe’s Satay sweet potato & kale curry is a heartwarming dish that can be garnished with coriander leaves, roasted peanuts and a wedge of lime

INGREDIENTS FOR 2

  • 1 brown onion
  • 5g coriander
  • 52g creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 15g fresh root ginger
  • 80g shredded kale
  • ½ Knorr vegetable stock cube
  • 1 lime
  • 80g natural yoghurt
  • 100g red lentils
  • 25g roasted peanuts
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

INSTRUCTIONS:

STEP 1

Preheat the oven to 220°C/ 200°C (fan)/ 425°F/ Gas 7

Chop the sweet potatoes (skins on) into small bite-sized pieces

STEP 2

Add the chopped sweet potato to a baking tray with 1 tbsp vegetable oil and a pinch of salt and give it a good mix up

Put the tray in the oven for 15-20 min or until the sweet potatoes are cooked and golden

STEP 3

Meanwhile, boil a kettle

Peel and finely chop the brown onion

Heat a large wide-based pan (preferably non-stick with a matching lid) with 1 tbsp vegetable oil over a medium heat

Once hot, add the chopped onion with a pinch of salt and cook for 4-5 min or until softened

STEP 4

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop (or grate) the ginger

Dissolve 1/2 Knorr vegetable stock cube in 600ml boiled water

STEP 5

Once the onion has softened, add the curry powder, chilli flakes (Can’t handle the heat? Go easy!), tomato paste and chopped ginger and cook for 1 min or until fragrant

Meanwhile, rinse the red lentils, add them to the pan with the vegetable stock and bring to the boil over a high heat

Once boiling, reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 10-15 min or until the lentils are cooked and tender

STEP 6

Meanwhile, chop the coriander roughly including the stalks, keeping the stalks separate from the leaves

Chop the lime in half

Once the lentils are cooked, add the shredded kale to the pan and cook, covered, for a further 3-5 min or until the kale has wilted

STEP 7

Once the kale has wilted, add the creamy peanut butter with the coriander stalks (save the leaves for garnish) and the juice of 1/2 lime and give everything a good mix up – this is your nutty lentil & kale curry

Cut the remaining lime into wedges

STEP 8

Serve the roasted sweet potato over the nutty lentil & kale curry

Finish with a dollop of natural yoghurt

Garnish with the coriander leaves, roasted peanuts and a wedge of lime

Enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

  • Energy (kcal): 596
  • Fat: 26g
  • Of which saturates: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 66g
  • Of which sugars: 18g
  • Fibre: 7g
  • Protein: 28g
  • Salt: 3g

JOE’S CHEEKY CHICKEN KATSU 

Joe’s Cheeky chicken katsu is an aromatic dish that’s ideal for impressing dinner guests 

INGREDIENTS FOR 2

  • 1 seasonal British apple
  • 100g basmati rice
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 large British chicken breast fillet
  • 5g coriander
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 British free-range egg
  • 15g fresh root ginger
  • 1 Knorr chicken stock cube
  • 60g panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 red chilli
  • 50g baby leaf salad
  • 1 shallot

INSTRUCTIONS:

STEP 1

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 180°C (fan)/ 400°F/ Gas 6

Place your hand flat onto the chicken breast

Slice in half as if you were cutting a burger bun, so you are left with 2 thinner pieces

Cover the halved chicken breasts in cling film and bash them with a rolling pin until evenly flattened and approx. 1cm in thickness

STEP 2

Crack the egg into a shallow bowl

Add 2 tbsp flour to a plate and season with salt and pepper

Combine the panko breadcrumbs with 1 tbsp vegetable oil and a generous pinch of salt on a large plate

Add the chicken to the flour, tapping off any excess, then add it to the egg, and then the panko breadcrumbs until evenly coated

STEP 3

Add the breaded chicken to a lightly oiled oven tray and put the tray in the oven for 10-15 min or until cooked through (no pink meat!) and crisp

STEP 4

Meanwhile, add the basmati rice and 250ml cold water to a pot with a lid and bring to the boil over a high heat

Once boiling, reduce the heat to very low and cook, covered, for 10-15 min or until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked

Once cooked, remove from the heat and keep covered until serving

STEP 5

Meanwhile, boil a kettle

Peel and grate the apple

Grate the carrot

Peel and grate the shallot and ginger

Chop the coriander finely, including the stalks

Dissolve the Knorr chicken stock cube in 300ml boiled water

STEP 6

Heat a large, wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with 1 tbsp vegetable oil over a medium heat

Add the grated shallot, apple, ginger and carrot and cook for 3-4 min

Add the curry powder and chopped coriander and cook for a further 1 min, until fragrant

Add 1 tbsp flour and cook for 1 min, stirring to coat the vegetables evenly

STEP 7

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over a high heat

Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5-7 min or until the sauce has thickened to a curry-like consistency

Meanwhile, deseed and finely slice the red chilli

Finely slice the cooked chicken

STEP 8

Serve sliced breaded chicken over the katsu sauce with the rice and baby leaf salad to the side

Drizzle the baby leaf salad with a little olive oil

Garnish with the sliced red chilli (Can’t handle the heat? Go easy!)

Enjoy!

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION 

  • Energy (kcal) : 574
  • Fat: 8g
  • Of which saturates: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 84g
  • Of which sugars: 12g
  • Fibre: 3g
  • Protein: 50g
  • Salt: 3g

JOE’S POPEYE’S WITH CRISPY POTATOES  

Joe’s Popeye’s with crispy potatoes is the ideal alternative to a traditional Sunday roast dinner

INGREDIENTS FOR 2

  • 1 large British chicken breast fillet
  • 50g soft cheese A7
  • 80g baby leaf spinach
  • 1/2 Knorr chicken stock cube A9
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 250g cherry tomatoes
  • 400g potatoes

INSTRUCTIONS:

STEP 1

Preheat the oven to 220°C/ 200°C (fan)/ 425°F/ Gas 7

Chop the potatoes into roughly bite-sized pieces

Add the chopped potatoes and cherry tomatoes to a baking tray

Drizzle with 1tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and give it a good mix up

STEP 2

Put the tray in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until everything is starting to brown

Meanwhile, place your had flat onto the chicken breast

Slice in half as if you were cutting a burger bun, so you are left with two thinner pieces

STEP 3

Add the chicken to the tray with the potatoes and return it to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes or until cooked through (no pink meat!)

Meanwhile, boil a full kettle

Peel and finely slice (don’t chop!) the garlic

Dissolve ½ Knorr chicken stock cube in 150ml boiled water

STEP 4

Add the baby leaf spinach to a colander and pour the remaining boiled water all over the spinach until it starts to wilt

Rinse the wilted spinach under the cold tap until it’s cool

Once cool, squeeze any excess water out of the spinach (as much as you can!)

STEP 5

Heat a large wide-based pan (preferably non-stick) with ½ tbsp olive oil over a medium-low heat

Once hot, add the sliced garlic and cook for 2-3 min or until softened but not browned

STEP 6

Once softened, add 1 tsp flour and cook for 1 min

Add the chicken stock and cook for 2-3 min or until thickened

Once thickened, add the soft cheese and give it a good mix up – this is your creamy sauce

STEP 7

Add the wilted spinach a