A million people livestream Joe Wicks online 'PE lesson'

Parents seeking activities for children out of school due to Covid-19 turn to fitness guru

A YouTube workout by the online fitness guru Joe Wicks has been livestreamed by more than a million people, as parents turn to alternative teaching methods to cope with their children not being able to attend school during the coronavirus outbreak.

Wicks, who was due to start a tour of schools to promote fitness and healthy living this week, decided to livestream a daily workout instead, saying he wanted to become “the PE teacher for the nation” as the coronavirus forces more children indoors.

The former personal trainer said he had “never seen anything like” the support his workout received on Facebook, where it was shared more than 150,000 times, with support from school teachers who directed students to the stream as an alternative to PE lessons. Some schools also included links to the workout in home curriculum documents emailed to parents.

Wicks said that with schools closed and people spending more time at home, the videos would encourage people to “keep moving and stay healthy and positive”.

PE with Joe Wicks

“Exercise is an amazing tool to help us feel happier, more energised, and more optimistic,” he said in a post on his website. “The workouts will be fun and suitable for all ages, and even adults can get involved.”

Wicks, who started online fitness advice in 2014 and went on to produce a million-selling book series and a TV show, told the Telegraph: “When things started to get bad, I had lots of parents asking me how they could keep their children active while they were home schooling, or if they were self-isolating. I started to feel quite emotional.”

Last week the BBC announced plans to “get older age group exercise routines and other fitness programming into people’s homes on TV or radio” as the outbreak meant many would be asked to self-isolate for weeks.

Wicks’s success, which was built on little more than a webcam and an established social media presence, shows the appetite that exists for online teaching, as parents struggle to keep children occupied at the start of what could be weeks indoors.

“If this takes just a bit of pressure off parents, and 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,” he said. “In fact, I think this might be one of the most meaningful things I’ll ever do in my life.”

Wicks said his free workouts would be very similar to the sessions that were planned as part of his school fitness tour, with a mix of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), involving exercises such as star jumps and squats. He said that the exercises were supposed to be easy, fun and suitable for children as young as two right up to teenagers.

Contributor

Lanre Bakare

The GuardianTramp

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