In the 18th issue of SLOAN! Magazine, celebrity life coach Sloan Sheridan-Williams chats with Joe Wicks – aka The Body Coach – to talk about healthy eating, cooking with Gousto, his challenges and successes on his journey so far and what motivates him to continue his mission to inspire one new person every day to exercise and cook a healthy meal. Read the full interview below.
Many people blame their busy lifestyles as the reason they don’t eat healthily. What are your five top tips to get someone back in the kitchen cooking fresh food and not rely on ready meals?
1. Prep like a boss! Plan your meals out for the week before food shopping and prep everything in advance. Batch cooking things like chilli, bolognese or curry is going to really set you up for success.
2. Cook together with your friends, family or kids making meals a social event.
3. Follow influential people on social media, read food blogs and get ideas from cookbooks. If you cook the same things over and over again, I recommend you get some inspiration so you can try new stuff.
4. If you’re not sure what to cook or you don’t want to go food shopping then getting a recipe box like Gousto delivered to your door is great.
5. Just get in the kitchen and have a go!
How can recipe boxes like Gousto help people and how did you get into using them yourself?
A friend of mine was doing it and he said you have to give it a try as it’s made my life easier as I’m getting 3-4 recipes a week delivered. So I thought I will give it a go. My brother, me and a few other friends joined up and we got a WhatsApp group going called The Gousto Gang where you know what you are going to order and you sit down and compare meals and talk about it. Gousto takes that step away of deciding what you are going to get when you go out shopping and end up putting the same thing in your basket every day. It’s about variety but also it gets you trying new things. The best part is that there is no food waste, you use every ingredient that comes in the box so that’s a real positive. It’s so convenient – the box lands on your doorstep, you pop it in the fridge and you are away. There is no going back for me now – it’s really fixed a problem in my life.
You must have lots of offers coming through all the time from different companies. What was it specifically about Gousto that made you want to work with them as a brand spokesman?
I listened to a podcast where the CEO Timo was being interviewed about the company and their vision and I just fell in love with him. I thought what a nice guy! He has such a long term vision. He really does want people to cook healthy food and our missions are so aligned so I said to him if l had my dream company it wouldn’t be setting up a restaurant, it wouldn’t be ready meals in a supermarket, it would be Gusto because I really do believe in this as a solution. People are so busy with excuses all the time but with Gousto you can’t get away from it. It comes to your door, it’s only healthy food and it’s the variety as well. I have created four recipes a week for Gousto and I’m also an investor in the company so I believe in it as long term partnership, I’m not just doing a quick little digital marketing campaign, I’m really invested in the idea, the growth the company and I do preach about it because I’m so passionate about it. All my friends and family are on it. I bloody love it, I really do!
What first got you into healthy eating and exercise and when was the moment that you decided you had to follow your journey and become “The Body Coach”?
I never had a great diet when I was a kid. My mum didn’t cook a lot and we relied on sandwiches, junk food and fizzy drinks. It was only when I hit university and studied Sport Science that I got into nutrition and I started putting good food into my body. I thought “Wow this is really the answer to your fitness” because I trained all the time and it didn’t make much difference to my fitness then I had a six week transformation where I only put good food in my body and really thought about what I was eating. I looked and felt really good at the end of it so that was a good wake up call for me because I realised the power of good food. When you eat crap food, you’re run down, lethargic, bloated and knackered which is normal for so many people but you really don’t have to live that life because when you eat healthy food you are so much more productive, you wake up in a better mood, you train harder and sleep better. There are so many benefits especially from a mindset and productivity point of view. I achieve so much more when I’m eating well. I have loved exercise all my life but I have loved healthy food since I was like 25.
That must be part of the reason that motivated you to help others and see them achieve their goals. What do you hope to achieve through your work as an advocate for living a healthy lifestyle?
I’m really proud that I have had such a big impact with social media. I have a big audience and I have published the cookbooks and it’s all gone really well. I just love that I have people that have probably genuinely never cooked before or people that are a bit nervous in the kitchen and have relied on ready meals. I just want to be remembered as someone who made a big impact on the nation’s health and my big campaign is to help children. I’ve had a meeting with Channel 4 to get together and investigate why fitness is getting dropped and why PE is not compulsory in certain schools. I really what to be remembered like you remember Jamie Oliver for school dinners. I really want to be remembered for school fitness where I really shake things up, get kids active and get them in a better place.
You once said that you don’t feel like a celebrity even though you have over 2.5 million followers on Instagram and have such a positive influence on other people. How would you describe yourself?
I’d describe myself as someone who is really ambitious and passionate. I feel like I am really good at communicating with people and making something that seems quite scary like fitness & nutrition and making it fun and accessible and digestible. I appeal to kids at school exercising with me and 50-year-old women doing my workouts so yes I feel I’m good at communicating and making people feel good. When I get a comment or a post, I get such a high off it, It’s so addictive to think I am doing something good for people so that is without a doubt my motivation and I have been successful because of that. I’m purpose driven rather than business and profit driven and that’s one of the reasons I think I have had so much success.
How did it feel when you recently hit 3 million sales of your book “Lean in 15”? What was that like for you?
Hitting 3 million books is mad. I went out to celebrate with my publisher and brother to a good team effort. When your publisher phones you to say you have sold 3 million books in the UK alone, that’s just mad. When you think there are maybe three people in the average house so that’s 9 million people eating better because of my one silly idea of throwing food in a pan on Instagram and saying Lean in 15. So I am really glad I kept doing it and I didn’t give up or listen to those who said I should stop.
What difference do you want to make in the lives of your fans and how do you ensure you always provide value to the people following you on Instagram?
That’s a great question. My mission is to inspire one new person every day to exercise and cook a healthy meal. I think is this video or post or selfie going to achieve that because my social media is all about trying to make you laugh, make you feel good and trying to inspire you to do something for yourself so you will keep following me and liking me. If you believe in my message, you will get off your bum and keep moving. That’s my main motivation every day.
What scared you the most when you first started as a fitness coach and what challenges did you have to overcome?
I set up my first boot camp in Richmond and I really hoped it was going to be a success, having visions I was going to turn up and have loads of people there and all the stations set out with kettle bells and ropes. Then no-one would turn up and I would get really disheartened. I always thought I’m not going to give up because if I don’t come back next week, no one is going to know I even exist. So I had this mentality that I wasn’t scared of failure and I was aware if I stopped it would probably never happen. So I thought do you know what I’m going to do, I’m going to go to Richmond station and I’m going to flyer outside the station every morning at rush hour rain or shine and people will start to recognise me and ask me for a flyer. So I kept doing that. I kept building it and building it and that was the way I taught myself to keep on going and I have applied that to everything in my life now. Don’t give up. Keep moving and working towards your goals.
We believe food is a great way to connect with loved ones but often diets make it harder to order when eating out in restaurants. What are your thoughts on this?
Well, I’m a massive fan of socialising and eating out. It’s nice to eat at home with your family and friends but I also love going to nice restaurants. If you’re someone who works out and eats well at home then you shouldn’t be over-thinking it as long as you’re not having takeaways and ordering pizza every night. Enjoy the food you love but be sensible. If you’re on a rest day, have a starter and a main or if you’re on a training day have a treat that night and have a dessert. It’s little choices like that really.
As a first-time new dad, what are your top tips to help new and expectant fathers navigate the ups and downs of fatherhood?
I’m only five months in so I’m not an expert but I am learning. I love being a dad and being around my baby. My advice to new dads is to just get involved from the start. Change nappies and help out with feeding and have some daddy time going for walks and try and grow that bond. Be part of the night routine helping with bath and bottle then bed. I like to be present even if it’s only for an hour in the evening before they go to bed. You have to have patience because babies can cry and get on your nerves so you just got to remember they are only little and learning the world. You just have to take and big deep breath and be calm and patient – that’s the most important thing I think.
We believe here at SLOAN! that everyone has a story to share where you take life to the next level. What advice would you give someone wanting to publish a book?
Publishing a book for me was very accidental in so much that I didn’t have any ambitions or plans to get a book deal. I actually got approached by a publisher and I had a meeting with them where they said I should get a literary agent as they would help me get a good deal and take me to different publishers. So that’s what I did. I got a book agent and they took me round to eight publishers who were bidding in a blind auction so they didn’t know what others were bidding, so that’s a way of getting a good advance. You need to choose a publisher who believes in your book and who is going to support you and what you do because you could get more money from another publisher but then they might not pump you up with the PR and not do much to support you. So don’t just go with a big advance. You should focus on going with a publisher that has great books in their catalogue and one that can help you outgrow the brand.
You talked about the book reaching 3 million sales and you have been voted Britain’s second best-selling cookbook writer as well and your fitness DVD selling over 40,000 copies. What does success mean to you personally?
Success for me isn’t about numbers or how many Instagram followers I have or how many books I have sold. What really measures success for me is the positive feeling I created doing a good thing. Whether its a deal with Gousto to cook healthy food or my DVD workouts, it’s to do a good thing for people and know that people’s lives are being changed by what I am doing. That’s what makes it worthwhile for me and that’s why I continue to work super hard to create super content online and give free advice. That’s my main motivation.
What are you looking forward to achieving in 2019?
This year is all about school fitness and amplifying the message on television that I am trying to get kids active. I have been doing this YouTube series and I would like a TV show to support that to get into schools and shake things up and get kids active so that in ten years time people will look back and remember that Body Coach guy who got Britain’s kids really fit. That’s what I am really hoping.
Joe Wicks is the brand spokesperson for Gousto, the leading recipe box company who have teamed up with ‘The Body Coach’ to develop a range of nutritious and delicious meals. Visit www.gousto.co.uk to order Joe Wicks’ recipes. Meals start at £2.98 with four new recipes each week.