Joe Wicks: "See exercise as an essential part of your happiness and make it a priority”

Prudence Wade chats to the Body Coach about the mental benefits of exercise - why this is more important than ever right now.
Joe Wicks: "See exercise as an essential part of your happiness and make it a priority”

Joe Wicks.

FITNESS might be Joe Wicks’ job, but even he’s not always ready and raring to work-out.

“I definitely have days where I feel flat and I feel stressed, or I can’t be bothered today,” admits the father-of-three. However, the difference for Wicks, 37, is that moving his body has become a non-negotiable.

“If I don’t wake up and exercise, I hold that tension and stress in my body,” he explains. “So I always see exercise as like a stress relief valve, like a pressure cooker. 

"So when I move my body, I know I’m going to feel so much better at the end of it. It’s habit and discipline, as opposed to being genuinely lit up with motivation every day. 

"I know how much my life improves - my relationships, my friendships, my kids and everyone around me benefit when I’m keeping active.

“It’s non-negotiable. It’s a priority for me.”

If you’re at the start of your fitness journey or out of the swing of things, making exercise a priority can seem like an uphill battle. Here’s how Wicks suggests going about it...

Don’t do too much, too soon: If your New Year’s resolution is to adopt the training plan of a professional athlete, you could be setting yourself up for failure. “Ultimately, the first and most important thing is you don’t do too much at once,” Wicks advises. “Don’t try and go to the gym five days a week from zero, or put pressure on yourself to build a certain diet, or a low-calorie restrictive diet. Do things you can actually sustain, that isn’t overwhelming, that isn’t stressful, that is enjoyable.”

Remove the friction: Does life constantly seem to get in the way of exercise goals? You might want to rethink how you’re doing things.

“I’m a big fan of home work-outs,” says Wicks. 

“Remove the friction of getting childcare, or getting to the gym and finding that hour where you commute. Imagine your living room was your gym, and you had a pair of dumbbells and a kettlebell - you can have a great workout in 25 minutes.

“You’ve got to make your life easy - set yourself up for success,” Wicks adds.

Focus on the mental benefits: Wicks knows exercise is a game-changer for his mental health - and if you start experiencing the same benefits, you might find yourself even more committed to moving your body.

“The Body Coach was originally about HIIT training, body image and losing weight. Over the years, I’ve really shifted my belief and narrative around it, I realised people often start to lose weight - but what keeps them coming back is the mental health benefits of exercise and how their life and relationships improve.”

The cost-of-living crisis makes movement more important than ever, adds Wicks.

“It’s essential, because life’s overwhelming, life feels really stressful,” he reflects. 

“And if you don’t take care of yourself physically and don’t lift your mood mentally, you’re going to be overwhelmed and things can really get on top of you. 

"So see exercise as an essential part of your happiness and make it a priority.”

Prioritise sleep: Wicks’s youngest child, Leni, is four months old, and her tired dad says: “She’s doing this sleep regression thing, where she’s awake for like half an hour, every night, all through the night. Your eyes are stinging, you wake up thirsty, you’ve got a headache - it really makes you realise how sleep is everything, it’s the foundation,” he adds. “I’m making not great food choices, I’m not really exercising - so it definitely affects me.”

Wicks calls sleep “the number one priority for me, over anything. Certain things knock you back, and I realised how important sleep is - if there’s one message I’d like to share with people it’s this year, really prioritise sleep.”

Find your tribe: If you have the time and resources, training with a group of like-minded people might be the extra boost you need.

“You feel like you’re not on your own and people are cheering you on - it feels nice to be part of a little community.”

That’s why Wicks has set up The Body Coach Studios - a pop-up space for a few days in January where Wicks and trainers from his app will teach in-person classes.

The Body Coach Studios’ is the first ever fitness studio from Joe Wicks’ The Body Coach app. To find out more and book tickets for January 20-22, head to thebodycoach.com/studios

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