Joe Wicks at Dubai Fitness Challenge: food and fitness should be fun

The Body Coach and Lean in 15 founder talks to us ahead of his ambitious HIIT session on October 26

Body coach Joe Wicks offers free workouts on YouTube. 
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Joe Wicks is a busy man to pin down. No sooner did he land in Dubai on Wednesday, October 23, that he got involved in the various Dubai Fitness Challenge activities and promotions. The British trainer is in town to conduct an HIIT session as part of the fitness challenge, on Saturday, October 26, at Skydive Dubai. But this is no simple workout session; the Lean in 15 and Body Coach founder aims to break the Guinness World Record for the most number of participants in a single high-intensity interval training class.

We catch him for a quick five-question chat.

How would you describe an HIIT workout and its advantages?

High-intensity interval training is a great way of working out, especially if you’re really busy because you don’t need to spend hours in the gym; you can do a short workout, say 20 to 25 minutes. And what it involves is short bursts of energy – so say about 30 seconds of work – followed by 20 or 30-second rest periods. And you repeat that for the session, and you get great results; you burn a lot of energy and you feel fantastic. Plus, it can be done anywhere, anytime.

How many participants would you need to do to break the Guinness World Record during the HIIT 30x30 with Joe Wicks at Dubai Fitness Challenge, and what should they look forward to from the session?

So the Guinness World Record for the largest HIIT is actually my record, which seems a bit mad. In 2017, we had 3,804 people in London’s Hyde Park, which is fantastic. I am really hoping that with the attention and energy centred on the Dubai Fitness Challenge, people are going to come out and enjoy the session and help set a way bigger record. I think this is one that’s going to be around for a long time. It’s going to be a big event that will make you feel great, so definitely come along.

It seems like there’s a new “most effective” workout / diet / fitness concept every other week, but your Lean in 15 brand has endured. Why do you think that is, and how do you keep it fresh?

I think my Lean in 15 brand and my YouTube [Body Coach] presence is still growing because I don’t overcomplicate things. It’s a very simple message: food and fitness should be fun; you should enjoy cooking, you should enjoy your exercise. I’d like to believe I’ve given people the confidence to try out recipes and start working out at home. And it all takes just 15 to 20 minutes of exercise and the short recipes mean they enjoy the cooking process. And I’ve never changed direction, so that may explain my longevity.

Do you have a cheat meal you turn to?

I’ll indulge now and again, but I don’t see it as a cheat day. I think that that’s kinda [tricky] because what I often see is that people who do it, overdo it, and just smash like 5,000 calories. I think it’s better to spread out your so-called cheat meals throughout the week, have an odd treat now and again, rather than do it all on one day.

What’s next for you after the Dubai Fitness Challenge?

I’m heading back to the UK for a tour working with schools, and a tour with BBC Children in Need. That’s my main thing now, and I’m really enjoying trying to get kids active.