‘PE with Joe’ is a series of live streamed workouts on YouTube by Joe Wicks MBE (also known as The Body Coach). The 34-year-old British fitness coach, TV presenter and author started ‘PE with Joe’ in March 2020 during the first national lockdown. Children were no longer in school and most parents and adults were working from home. Joe decided to become the nation’s PE teacher and at 9am every morning he took us all for a PE lesson.
With endless days stretching out in front of us and entertainment for children limited to the home, I decided to make ‘PE with Joe’ part of our family’s daily routine. It offered a way to bring back some much-needed structure and routine into our days. Only, I made the massive mistake of seriously underestimating the effort levels required to take part in Joe’s PE lesson. The first time we tuned in I was barefoot and still in my pyjamas- it was a PE lesson for children for goodness sake, how hard could it be? Halfway through the session I was sweating and gasping for breath but determined not to show any signs of weakness in front of our 12-year-old son!
I was shocked at how unfit I was. Yes, I walk 10,000+ steps most days and, with three boys, I never seem to sit down but my cardio fitness levels were abysmal. Having previously worked in and used gyms for many years I was amazed at how quickly I had lost my stamina and overall fitness levels. It would have been so easy to have not continued with ‘PE with Joe’, he was not going to question why I had not returned to class. I could have watched my son do it from the comfort of the sofa. The truth is I only attended the second session to show my eldest son that when things are hard, we do not just give up. Before I knew it, we did ‘PE with Joe’ every day. Every session we spurred one another on, high fiving each other after each interval and laughing at one another’s Silly Billy dancing. We had found something new and fun to bond over, a huge plus with a soon-to-be teenage son.
It did not take long before I was hooked on the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) disguised as ‘PE with Joe’. I found myself doing it at the weekends too, with or without our eldest son. Every time I could feel I was getting fitter and stronger and felt better mentally too. At the beginning of the pandemic I, like many others, found it difficult to sleep. PE with Joe lifted my mood, made me more positive and my mind was no longer whirling around at bedtime keeping me awake.
The exercise is not the reason why we take part in PE with Joe- its Joe himself who makes us return time after time. You can tell he really loves what he does. He makes the 20-30-minute sessions fun, motivating and educational. At least once a week there is a quiz, topics covered include the human body, capital cities, nature and geography. Every Friday is Fancy Dress Friday where Joe, and people taking part at home, exercise in bonkers outfits for the full session. He is so passionate about exercise and its benefits; it is infectious. “I think fitness is just as important as maths and English and should be part of the curriculum, which is so focused on grades. What good is it if a child is really academic, but he’s overweight or stressed? Exercise is so important for the mental fitness and happiness of children.”
PE with Joe is aimed at anyone, anywhere, of any age and ability. This is most evident when he does his shout outs to people messaging him live from around the globe. At a time when we could have all felt quite isolated and alone, he has created a global community of people having fun whilst exercising. No equipment is required, and everyone can spare 20-30 minutes of their day to take part. If you cannot watch him live at 9am his workouts are all saved on YouTube so you can watch them back and take part at your own convenience – for free as often as you like. There really is no excuse not to take part!
Should YOU do it? Absolutely! As Joe himself says “you will never regret a workout and always feel better afterwards”. It’s true. I am converted. Since starting PE with Joe, almost a year ago now, I try to exercise at least 4 times a week. It makes me feel better and I can see the progress in my strength, stamina and overall fitness every time I work out. For the first time in 20 years, I have started running and regular yoga practise again. I even asked for a fitness tracker for my 40th birthday! It has sparked something inside me that I don’t want to ever extinguish.
So, when lockdown ends and gyms reopen I will be looking for a gym that I can join, with my family, to continue the fitness journey that we started with PE With Joe.
So thank you Joe, from children and parent everywhere!