Wicks is no average Joe
Joe Wicks is back with his latest cookbook, Cooking For Family And Friends. ELLA WALKER chats to the Lean In 15 entrepreneur and Insta-foodie about his latest venture
JOE WICKS should run for public office. Not only has the 31-year-old fitness coach and Instagram sensation got a passion for changing lives (and physiques) and a sizeable following (1.8 million on Instagram; 274,000 on Twitter), he also knows when to admit he hasn’t got all the answers.
Take his ideas on Britain’s health service, an area he’d “love to really make some impact” even though, as yet, he says, “I don’t know how I can do it with the NHS – that’s a big beast”.
“I just feel it’s sad that people are getting sicker and sicker, and more and more unhealthy, and (the country) spends billions and billions at the other end of it; on heart disease, diabetes, obesity – it’s food, diet and exercise related,” he explains.
“If only we could just get some knowledge and education at the beginning to prevent all that stuff – it’s the answer to it all, you know, billions of pounds would be freed up to do other stuff.
“It’s all economics – I don’t understand the economics of it all, but I know I’ll do my bit to inspire people as much as I can.”
The Epsom-born personal trainer is, of course, best known as ‘The Body Coach’ to his fitness disciples. Three years ago, Joe launched his subscription-based 90 Day Shift, Shape and Sustain Plan, and went, stratospherically, from sharing amateur recipe videos and workouts online, to helping thousands of people trim down and get fit for a living.
Full to the brim with charm, you can see his appeal – a combination of endless enthusiasm and a monumental work ethic. That and the fact he’s not in the least bit starry, even sitting on a London rooftop terrace awaiting a ‘Joe-mito’ (a riff on his watermelon and mint ‘posh slush puppy’), at the launch party of his fourth cookbook, Cooking For Family And Friends.
It marks the halfway point in an eight-book deal for Joe, and is a more inclusive follow-up to his wildly successful trio of Lean In 15 cookbooks (all three still grace the best-seller charts, and sales have topped 2.4 million). This time around, he’s catering for busy dinner tables, rather than solo gym bunnies.
“You know how sometimes you feel like, if you’re on a diet, it’s just you on your own? I wanted you to think, well actually, you can have barbecues and parties and make them healthy,” he explains.
“You can still batch cook and make your kids’ lunch. In fact, the whole family won’t even know it, but they’re eating healthier, so are going to get leaner, without anyone saying, ‘You’ve got to eat this, you’ve got to eat that’.”
The former boot camp trainer has also included a few treats – namely sticky toffee pudding and chocolate fondant.
“Just because chocolate isn’t ‘clean’,” he says, fingers miming air quotes, “doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it and have it now and again.”
Joe admits that no one person got him into cooking, but as for becoming an entrepreneur, his ultimate hero is Jamie Oliver.
Without taking a breath, he reels off his every encounter with the Naked Chef, the most recent being when the duo grabbed dinner together at Jamie’s restaurant Fifteen.
“We sat there for four hours on our own talking, and he’s just so generous with advice. He downloaded all this wisdom and knowledge and experience.
“He’s on a mission. I told him, ‘Mate, you work hard’,” says Joe, visibly galvanised.
Aside from transforming the NHS and writing another four books, what else is left on his own mission?
“The message is, no matter how old you are, you can exercise and feel good; you can take control of your body, you don’t have to starve yourself.
“I’m for everyone; fitness and food for everyone.”
Cooking For Family And Friends by Joe Wicks, published by Bluebird, is priced £20.
The Body Coach Joe Wicks, above, and his latest cookbook, Cooking For Family And Friends, inset left