Why 3.5 million people want Joe Wicks to be their PE teacher

His fitness classes for kids stuck at home because of Covid-19 have made him famous with families. It’s a long way from his beginnings touting the benefits of broccoli

Name: Joe Wicks.

Age: 34.

Appearance: Bouncy-haired, bearded and fit.

Occupation: Media superstar.

Oh, really? Then how come I’ve never heard of him? It may have something to do with the route he took to fame.

What route was that? Via Instagram, largely. Wicks has amassed 3.2 million followers on his account since he started in 2014.

Sounds as if he was into social media long before it became our sole means of human interaction. He was. He started with dietary advice before moving into fitness. Before long, mainstream success came his way.

Tuesday’s PE class.

In what form? His first cookbook is said to have led to a 25% increase in the sale of Tenderstem broccoli. In 2016, he launched a fitness series on Channel 4.

What is he doing these days? Teaching PE.

Ah – how fleeting is fame. You misunderstand. Wicks was due to start a nationwide tour of schools to promote fitness, but it got cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Boohoo. So instead he is holding PE classes on YouTube for all the kids whose schools have been closed. It’s live-streamed every weekday at 9am.

Getting kids to exercise at 9am? Good luck with that. About 1.4 million tuned in for Tuesday’s live workout. And 3.5 million people have watched Monday’s effort so far.

Wow. He must be coining it. The classes are free.

Yeah, but it’s not hurting his brand, I’ll bet. He is helping young people stay active under difficult circumstances. What’s wrong with that?

If you’re trying to present the upside of the pandemic, I’m not in the mood. “If this takes just a bit of pressure off parents, makes kids a little fitter and happier and gives them some structure to their day, then I’ve achieved what I set out to do,” Wicks said.

He’s good at self-promotion, I’ll give him that. “In fact,” he said, “I think this might be one of the most meaningful things I’ll ever do in my life.”

Oh, please. Why must you be so cynical?

I’m just angry because my wine delivery got cancelled. And I may never see my dry-cleaning again. You know what may make you feel better? A little exercise.

It’ll take more than 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training to fix my problems. It can’t hurt though, can it?

I suppose not. Right, see you at 9am.

Do say: “OK, let’s start with a five-minute warm-up!”

Don’t say: “Can he see that I’m eating a doughnut?”

The GuardianTramp

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