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Joe Wicks, The Body Coach - How a Decade of Work Became An “Overnight Success”

Joe Wicks in England Shirt at Soccer Aid 2019

Image by Soccer Aid for Unicef @ Wikimedia Commons

By Anna Phillips, Legends Report Writer

As well as teaching the nation how to get (and stay) fit, Joe Wicks has much to teach us about successful business strategy. As of June 2021, The Body Coach, AKA fitness trainer Joe Wicks, has over 4 million followers on Instagram. Success stories often follow a ‘rags to riches’ arc, making achievements appear instantaneous, but years of work went into building The Body Coach brand. This article will examine the roots of Joe Wicks’ hard earned success, including what he learned along the way and what we can learn from him.

A Decade of Work Became an “Overnight Success”

The initial rush of attention surrounding The Body Coach and subsequent social media boost gave the impression of an overnight success, but Mr Wicks has spent over ten years building his business. So many business leaders have said exactly that: ‘Overnight Success Takes 10 Years.” What we can learn best from Joe Wicks is that persistence, dedication and love for what you do is absolutely key based on universal, timeless principles. Many people give up on their dreams when it gets challenging, meaning they never work long enough to see successes coming in.

 “It probably would have taken me 10 years to achieve this at any other time. So, I have to use it. I want this to be my legacy. When I’ve stopped doing workouts and YouTube videos, I want this content that I’ve created to be used in schools all around the world. This is what I want to be remembered for.” - Joe Wicks

Humble Beginnings

Joe Wicks is transparent about his setbacks and the challenges he has faced. After discovering he “wasn’t cut out” to be a PE teaching assistant, he became a personal trainer. For five years, Joe Wicks ran boot camps and training sessions in south London, working hard to increase his client base. He was popular with his regular attendees, but it was difficult to engage enough people to make a profit. 

“I grew up in a council estate and my dad was a drug addict. I like to share that story because it means that we all have a choice in life, we can all make our own path.”  - Joe Wicks 

Building His Community & Following

After being encouraged by a friend to use Instagram video, Joe Wicks found a new way to get people’s attention. Starting with recipe videos, he made healthy food accessible, affordable and appealing. His social media profile grew, and his content expanded to workout videos and motivational posts. Mr Wicks caught the attention of a publisher, and the rest of his career has been well documented.

“I always had this voice in my head telling me to keep going – keep going, and people will eventually follow. It was like that when I first started doing boot camps in the park, and it was the same when I started the Instagram videos.” - Joe Wicks 

A Refreshing Honesty & No Quick Fix

Joe Wicks’s honesty is reassuring to his clients. It is hard to imagine his scale of success, with millions of people watching your social media, however, most people can relate to trying to get their career started, trying to find a purpose. Crucially, Joe Wicks isn’t selling ‘a quick fix’ or guaranteeing happiness. Results come from what you do consistently, so the workouts and better food choices are part of a wider lifestyle change rather than a short-term fad. With better fitness and energy levels comes a more positive head and heart-space, which can be utilised to make even bigger changes.

A Love & Proactive Care For People

From working as a personal trainer with a handful of people, Joe Wicks changed his strategy to engage clients by literally going online and becoming a coach to millions. The care that Joe Wicks puts into each project dispels the idea that he got lucky by figuring out ‘the right algorithm’ - many people who knew him before The Body Coach are adamant that he deserves his success. 

“In 2012, Ely Nikfar was new to Surbiton. One day, walking home, the 33-year-old saw people boxing in the park. Wicks came over and handed her a ‘Rumble in the Park’ leaflet for his training camp.”

 “My first impression was that he just loved what he was doing and cared about everyone in the group [...] He worked so hard. Both me and my husband always say that he has deserved his success.”

Another Rumble in the Park member, Hannah Rankine, agrees: “I was probably the fittest I’ve ever been doing those sessions but it was just really joyful at the same time. He was so passionate but warm and encouraged everyone.”

Joe Wicks’ passion and easy going personality is attractive to customers and sponsors alike. He believes that his likeability is key to his success: “If you’re a likable person and you’re passionate, then people are drawn to that wherever you are in the world - Joe Wicks

Invest In People & They Will Invest In You

People continue to invest in Joe Wicks because he invests in them - regardless of individual goals and starting points, he celebrates every success and creates a community. Hard work, patience and energy have been present at every stage of Mr Wicks’ career. Part of Joe Wicks’ appeal is precisely because he isn’t an overnight success; he persisted with his business whilst learning from his setbacks. He is adamant about using social media as a marketing tool, but says content must be tailored: 

“You’ve got to learn and adapt. We observe and listen to everything. We know what to post, when and why, to get the maximum reach and engagements.  - Joe Wicks

He shows no signs of slowing down, looking for his next ‘new thing’ to avoid becoming really boring, really quickly, and really irrelevant." Regardless of the platform used, Joe Wicks demonstrates an understanding that success is not a single event, but investing in people, persisting and continuing to add value and innovate along the way. 

Making a Difference To Others

Since the end of ‘PE with Joe,’ he has donated the revenue (over £600,000) to the NHS and has been awarded an MBE for services to Fitness and Charity. His newest venture is collaborating with BBC Studios and ‘Hey Duggie’ programme to create workouts for younger children, as well as starting his first apparel sponsorship with Lululemon.

[NHS donation] It’s a phenomenal amount of money and it just felt right, seeing as it was the community that built it. - Joe Wicks 

Joe Wicks’ success demonstrates the value of dedication; he became more focused after every setback rather than discouraged.

He makes it clear that he is an ‘ordinary’ person who has achieved - and surpassed - his goals by working hard and adapting his approach instead of giving up. By doing so, The Body Coach is relatable to his audiences (who want to achieve their own targets) and appealing, viewed as someone who deserves his success.

Last year’s ‘PE with Joe’ is an excellent example of Mr Wicks’ ingenuity, but also his compassion. Even during a pandemic, The Body Coach created a valuable project for his business (advertisement), his community (accessible workouts for children) and the country (donating revenue to the NHS in the UK). Willingness to adapt and to help others using his platform continues to be a winning formula for Joe Wicks, and proof that compassion belongs in every business plan. Ultimately as we see with legends time and time again, they align their actions and behaviours to timeless, universal, self-evident principles like love, care, discipline, persistence, vision, honesty and integrity. If you're inspired by his example and want to learn how to apply these in your own life just contact us on live chat or through the form below...

“I believe when you give, give, give, the world ends up giving back” - Joe Wicks 

Key takeaways from Joe Wicks:

  • Work hard towards what you want, and show up consistently
  • Focus on the value you can add to your chosen field
  • Appreciate the people who support you
  • Help others to achieve their goals
  • Keep looking for your next challenge

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