Totally Wicked; His Hardcore 15-Minute Workouts Have Turned Super-Trainer Joe Wicks into a Global Star -- Well, Thatand His Instagram Posts of Rock-Hard ABS and Bulging Biceps. Alix O'Neill Gets Sweaty with Him

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 27, 2016 | Go to article overview

Totally Wicked; His Hardcore 15-Minute Workouts Have Turned Super-Trainer Joe Wicks into a Global Star -- Well, Thatand His Instagram Posts of Rock-Hard ABS and Bulging Biceps. Alix O'Neill Gets Sweaty with Him


Byline: Alix O'Neill

DON'T ask Joe Wicks about his chest. Do NOT ask Joe Wicks about his chest.

I ask Joe Wicks about his chest. To be fair, that particular region is pretty hard to ignore. The man is ripped, his white and navy tee straining with sinew. I'm tempted to ask him if he'd feel more comfortable with his top off (as an interviewer, it's important to put your subject at ease) but decide to remain professional. Instead, I show him a photo my sister WhatsApp-ed me earlier -- Wicks in a brooding changing room selfie, his magnificent form unobscured save for a pair of tiny man pants. Underneath, she's posted half a dozen love heart emojis and, should there be any ambiguity on the matter, types I ACTUALLY love him, along with instructions to shave my legs and not embarrass myself by telling him about the time I broke my vagina (an anecdote frequently employed when nervous).

Wicks laughs, bemused by the hysteria. After just over a year of megastardom he's still not quite used to being perved at. "I don't feel like a sex symbol at all," he admits. "Until recently I was in a long-term relationship, so I was in a bit of a bubble. Now I'm getting marriage proposals on Twitter from girls and guys. It's mad. I can't really believe everything that's happened."

Surely he's aware of the effect of his pelfies? ("Pec selfies" -- you heard it here first, people.) Does he ever catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror and think, "Damn, I'm a ridiculously good-looking human being"? He shakes his head emphatically. "I've never been vain like that. I post the occasional selfie because it's important for followers to see that I live my philosophy. If I were out of shape, my message wouldn't be picked up. I want to motivate and inspire."

For those of you inexplicably unfamiliar with The Body Coach, the "message" is 'Fats are good!' Eat more of them and become a demigod like me!' I'm paraphrasing, of course, but Wicks's method clearly yields results -- as well as more than one million Instagram subscribers, some 90,000 clients have signed up to his personalised three-month nutrition and exercise plan, a combination of low-carb meals and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. His book, Lean in 15, launched last December, became the fastest-selling debut cookbook since records began and the highestselling non-fiction of 2015. In October, Wicks teamed up with Microsoft to promote its snazzy fitness tracker, Band -- "a great bit of kit for setting a goal and getting real-time feedback to smash it!" -- while this summer he's fronting a Channel 4 show. Oh, and his turnover is a cool PS1 million a month.

It takes more than a mighty chest and John Snow-meets-Poldark good looks to achieve this level of success. The 30-year-old Epsom native demonstrates a Stakhanovite approach to work and is keen to point out the effort it took to get here. "The majority of people are really positive but some think I'm this Instagram sensation that's come from nowhere. I was a personal trainer for years and used to cycle every day from Surbiton, where I was living, to Richmond to run a bootcamp in Old Deer Park. I've probably clocked up about 60,000 tweets and 6,000 posts on Instagram, so it's been hard graft to build this kind of following."

WICKS confesses to once having a "terrible diet. I'd eat muesli and drink fruit juices and think they were really good for me but they're full of sugar. I was skinny but not lean. The more I got to understand nutrition, I got really fit. My online plans (PS147 for 90 days) are unique in that although everyone gets the same recipes and training, the calories are individually tailored. We take into consideration age, body mass, past dieting history, allergies, etc, which means the results people get are incredible. It's such a flexible plan, too -- you only eat the foods you like. I don't think you'll meet someone in the UK who hasn't heard of Lean in 15 or the 90-day plan. …

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