Late last week, we heard the not unexpected news that schools in the UK were to close. Among the many specters this raised, was how was I going to homeschool the children? Almost immediately, offers of online resources started filling my timeline. The nation (and the world) maybe being forced apart, but it was going to come together for the good of our children. One of the offers that arrived extremely quickly was from fitness coach Joe Wicks. Joe was offering to teach PE to the nation.
Wicks had crossed my radar before this initiative. He can be found on YouTube as TheBodyCoach, where he has 1.4M subscribers. I’ve seen his books in bookshops and frying pans in cookshops. He’s a young man, easy on the eye and tough on the abs. To be honest, until this year, I mostly felt keeping fit was something other people did. Joe Wicks wasn’t somebody I was going to start watching.
I found myself in front of the TV on Monday, with my kids, wondering what I’d let myself in for. Two of them were raring to go. The third, a teenager, sprawled on the chair, knowing this was beneath him.
On came Joe, who I believe grew up not that far from where we live. He’s got a London accent, sports bouffant curly hair, and has just enough stubble to look sexy. I often try a similar beard, but it tends to make me look homeless. Them’s the breaks I guess.
Joe starts bouncing up and down and exhorts us to wave our arms in the air. Watching, I can’t help feeling that he’s Russell Brand’s estranged younger brother. They’re made from the same mold, except Joe has clearly looked at Russ’s hedonistic, unhealthy lifestyle, and thought, “That’s not for me. I’m going to use my cheeky gift for chat to make the world fitter, one peck at a time.” I imagine the family dinner when prodigal son, Russell, returns home and his dad slaughters the fatted calf. Yet, you know Joe wouldn’t mind, a) because he seems like a decent fellow, happy in his own skin and b) because he’d probably rather have a kale and pomegranate power shake.
So here I am, stretching and jumping along with 800,000 other people around the world. All stuck inside, all thinking, “It’s a school P.E. lesson, it can’t be that hard.” Yet, of course, it is. Most of us, ironically, have spent too much of the last 20 years indoors. I’m so grateful I’ve been doing some work with the Nintendo Ring Fit this winter, otherwise, Joe may have pushed me into A&E, and the hospitals have more to deal with right now than one man’s mid-life crisis.
Mercifully, after half an hour this peculiar torture finishes. Whilst it did hurt, Wicks is right. It does feel good, and the next day, it felt a little better. He’s promised to keep making these videos every weekday morning whilst the schools are closed. Thousands of people are responding to his offer. His workouts give an opportunity for family togetherness, a chance for your children to show you how bendy they are and how high they can jump. Together we are creating memories – “Remember when Coronavirus came and dad jumped up and down like a kangaroo? He never did that before.” It’s true, I didn’t and you have to wonder why not. It’s great fun. A great release.
If you haven’t watched Joe yet, he’s live at 9am UK time (the clocks go forward here on Saturday), which won’t be ideal for US viewers, though all the workouts are available on YouTube afterward. We’ve had great fun doing them, and they’ve brought us closer together at a time of great stress. Joe’s not a miracle worker though, the teenager is still on the sofa…