Joe Wicks: It’s important to teach our children that exercise can be wonderful and fun

The fitness guru talks to Yolanthe Fawehinmi about the benefits of building healthy daily habits – even if it’s just 10 minutes.

Wicks wants us all the ‘ride the wave’ of endorphins!
Joe Wicks Wicks wants us all the ‘ride the wave’ of endorphins!

Joe Wicks is obviously a big fan of exercise. But if he doesn’t get it done first thing in the morning, even he’ll start making up excuses.

“What I found about myself is that if I don’t do it straight away when I wake up, excuses come in. I’ll have dinner or a bit of chocolate, and I can’t be bothered,” says Wicks, aka ‘The Body Coach’ – who gained a whole new audience when he started streaming free ‘PE with Joe’ workouts for kids and families during lockdown.

“So I’ve got to do it in the morning, and that really sets me up for a much more positive day.”

When his children – Indie, five, Marley, four, and Leni, 18 months (Wicks and his wife Rosie are also expecting their fourth child this summer) — allow him to get a good night’s sleep, the 38-year-old tries to be up at 6am to complete a 30-minute workout before getting into the kitchen to make breakfast for the family.

Joe Wicks

He’s a big fan of high-intensity and bodyweight workouts, like pull-ups, press-ups and squats, but also really loves to go cycling and on long walks around Richmond Park, near where he lives in south-west London. And fitness aside, Wicks is also a fan of getting out on his motorbike.

“When I’ve managed to carve out some time for myself, I love riding my motorbike as a pastime. I don’t go for long rides, but it helps me to be present because you have to be aware of the situation you are in and you can’t be on your phone. It sounds weird, but that’s very relaxing for me,” says the fitness guru and author, whose books include Lean In 15 and Feel Good Food.

“I also love going in ice baths or having a cold shower, even if it’s for 30 seconds, it releases a bit of dopamine in my mind, it’s great for the skin and also energises me.”

Joe Wicks

Wicks has now teamed up with Aviva health insurance and fitness tracking app Strava on their 30-day #MoveWithAviva campaign – encouraging the nation to put themselves first and partake in at least 10 minutes of activity a day throughout April to support their health and wellbeing. This could be going for a run or doing a quick workout, or even doing some gardening or a gentle mindfulness exercise.

A survey accompanying the campaign found 69% of people try to take care of their health by exercising but know there’s more they could be doing. When asked what was holding them back, 33% said they were too tired, and 30% said being busy with other priorities was the issue. Around 41% said they lack the motivation, and 15% admitted to being unsure where to begin.

Embracing short bursts of activity is right up Wicks’ street, because as a parent he says he doesn’t really want to be training for hours anymore.

“My three kids have just absorbed everything,” says Wicks, adding that he wants to be around for things like story time and bath time. Being active is part of their family life, too.

“They saw me doing PE With Joe every day during the lockdown and know that their parents also exercise together. We do fun stuff in the garden, play ‘stuck in the mud’, hide and seek, go for bike rides, and I’ve even got some boxing pads and gloves we can use,” Wicks says.

“It’s important to teach our children that exercise can be a wonderful and fun thing. I can physically see how it calms them down. I even get them involved in the kitchen when I’m cooking different recipes. What’s more important as a life skill than teaching your children how to cook? You are setting them up for a healthy future.”

As ever, he is keen to highlight that being active and taking care of your wellbeing doesn’t need to be complicated.

“The campaign is really about self-belief and doing the small things that will have a big impact. Although it may not transform your life overnight, one thing leads to another,” says Wicks.

“Fitness should be accessible and doesn’t need to be intense or feel like a punishment. Doing exercise for 10 minutes a day can be fun. It’s a tool that can help you release stress and pressures on your body, and boost your mood and energy, it’s so powerful.

“Your fitness goals shouldn’t be so focused on body image, losing inches and the scales – that doesn’t motivate you enough. Focus on trying to get fitter and building strength, especially now that it is warmer and getting lighter in the evenings.

“Ride the wave,” Wicks adds. “When summer arrives, you will naturally have those endorphins and the idea of going for a jog or walk won’t be unbearable. Ride that wave!”

Joe Wicks has teamed up with Aviva Health UK and Strava to launch a new #MoveWithAviva challenge – encouraging people can build healthy habits in just 10 minutes a day. To find out more, visit