Joe Wicks has said he wants to be a rolemodel to children and young adults suffering with mental health.
The fitness coach, 36, became the nation’s PE teacher during the Covid lockdown thanks to his daily workouts on YouTube which earned him a legion of new fans, plus an MBE.
Not only was he inundated with messages of thanks, he also had parents discussing their mental health which served as the impetus for his recent BBC documentary Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood.
The Body Coach laid bare the reality of growing up in a turbulent, unstable home, with a mother suffering from severe OCD, eating disorders and anxiety, and a father with depression and a heroin addiction in his documentary.
It won praise from critics and viewers-alike as the documentary became a platform for conversation which Wicks is keen to continue, especially where young people are concerned.
Speaking to the Standard, he said: “I think young people are suffering a lot at the moment, more than we probably know and I want to do more documentaries around mental health.
“I want to go to schools more and uncover things around social media use, around phone addiction around body dysmorphia and anxiety, all these issues that I probably experienced a tiny bit growing up but nothing like now; I think it’s way more prevalent.
“I want to create a real impact in the school system and educating families and young people on the connection between exercise and mental health.”
He continued: “I’m doing a lot of school visits which is great, but it’s not scalable because I can only visit like two schools a day and it’s tough to get around the country so I want to create more content or a digital platform or resources that schools can tap into.
“I still share regular workouts on YouTube with schools they are like five minutes or ten minutes long so it’s still content, but I feel like I need to put more effort into that and more structure so people can go ‘we need some worksheets around nutrition or mental health’, I want to be a provider of that so that people can really rely on that.”
The Epsom-born fitness champion has said the reason he is so passionate about helping youths is in part because of his own troubled childhood and also because he is now a dad himself.
He shares daughter Indigo, three, and two-year-old son Marley, two, with wife Rosie, 31, who is currently pregnant with their third child due in September.
He said: “I’ve got two kids now so I know it’s really important that kids need support and they need guidance. I’ve been a kid who went through a tough childhood, kids need a positive rolemodel.
“My first and only real positive role model was my PE teacher. I just knew when I went to PE I would be able to release that energy and I loved that they nurtured me and got the best out of me whereas every other teacher kicked me out of class.
“I just think if I can be that role model to get kids moving and talking about mental health it’s going to be impactful and like a lifelong legacy.”
Another goal that Wicks is looking to achieve is to break his own Guinness World Record for the largest HIIT workout, a feat he originally achieved five years ago when he got 3,804 people moving together at London’s Hyde Park.
For his latest attempt, the lululemon global ambassador will be leading a working out at BST Hyde Park on June 29 and everyone is welcome to join in.
Tickets are available now through Eventbrite and 100% of ticket sales will be donated to mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).
He said: “So many families and young people took part in PE With Joe I thought what an amazing thing to bring those people who did a virtual experience, together in real life.
“It’s for a great cause and hopefully we’ll get a new record too.”
Lululemon global ambassador and MBE-awarded fitness coach, Joe Wicks, will be attempting to break his own GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title ™ for the world’s largest HIIT workout at British Summer Time on 29th June. Tickets are now on sale on Eventbrite, with 100% of ticket sales going towards charity CALM.