Joe Wicks is a geezerish and good-looking online nutrition coach and Instagram celebrity. He's from Surrey, although everyone thinks he's from Essex. His approach is not to count calories like some kind of food miser, but to intelligently plan workouts and meal timings so you can eat a lot of food whilst getting lean.
Not surprisingly, this less puritanical approach to fitness has been a success, with tens of thousands of people signed up to his LeanIn15 And SSS Plan programmes, and half a million followers tuning into his Instagram to watch him working out at home, along with pictures of yummy food and before and after shots of satisfied punters who’ve shed excess lard via his methods.
Joe spoke to T3 about how using tech – specifically the Microsoft Band 2 – can help with his brand of fitness training…
“I've been using this Band 2 from Microsoft. The heart rate monitor works all day, not just when you're working out, and your body burns calories even when you're at rest, when you're asleep, all day long basically. Once you know your heart rate it can give you so much information. Like training intensity: are you training hard enough? Can you push yourself harder?
“I'm a big fan of HIIT training – High Intensity Interval Training – and I tell my clients, like, “Push your heart rate to near maximum for 30 seconds then rest for a minute, then repeat 15-20 times.” It's a great measure of fitness; if your heart rate goes really high but then recovers quicker, it's getting more efficient. It's one of the best measures of fitness, basically.
“It's super accurate. I compared it to my chest monitor and it's really accurate. It gives you your average heart rate, your peak maximum during a workout and also how long it takes to recover to resting state. That's a massive key to fitness. As you get fitter, you recover a lot quicker because it becomes more efficient.
“VO2 Max is measuring the efficiency of your heart and lungs at maximum capacity. It's usually done on a treadmill or bike where you're basically working your bollocks off till you reach the highest possible output and then they measure the kind of gas exchange. With the Band 2 you can monitor your VO2 Max using an alogrithm, so you can again measure your cardio vascular fitness over time.
“Obviously you get variance based on the genetics of their heart and their lungs, so it's not like Top Trumps. If your VO2 Max isn't as high as your mate's, you can still be super fit, so it's not a number to live your life by, but it's another nice bit of data. It isn't static, so as you get fitter it'll improve, and if you get less fit, it'll decrease.
“I love the Band 2's guided workouts. I used to use an app on my phone that beeps for each interval, but you've got to be near it to hear it but with the haptic feedback on this where it vibrates on your wrist, even if you're midway through a mountain climb or a pressup or a plank, you feel it. Then it tells you your rest period, then when to start the next exercise.
“If you're in a frame of mind where you'd rather not have to think about your workout and you'd rather just be told, it's like having a personal trainer there really. It's a way of making sure you get a quality workout, and that you don't cheat by having an overlong resting period. It triggers you and reminds you to keep going.
“For a beginner doing a HIT session I'd say do 30 seconds on; 30 seconds of hard work followed by a 45-second rest, then repeat that, but simple stuff like running on the spot, burpees, squat jumps. So you're getting a full body workout and pushing your heart rate up through the roof.
“With the reps it's not about doing a set number, it's about doing the most YOU can do. So you might do 20 pressups in 30 seconds and I might do 30 but it's just about you working as hard as you can. That's why HIT training is good whether you're a beginner or you're really fit: it's relative to your fitness cos it's about going as hard as you can and pushing yourself. It's quick, too. If I'm doing intense HIT training, I don't do more than 25 minutes as a rule.
“It's comfortable, with the rubberised material, and it's easy to tighten or loosen. Like, if you're doing burpees you might wanna loosen it a bit but then when you're running you can just pull that clasp so it goes tight against your wrist. Comfort is key and it's quite flexible in that respect. You don't want something that you wanna take off every 20 minutes.
“For me, the benefit of this Band isn't just in the training session, it's in the rest of the day. It's more of an intelligent bracelet than a watch, so it's there but it's comfortable; it's well designed.
I've had running watches before that were like having a TV on my wrist. I wore one to do a marathon a couple of years ago. It had a chest monitor for the heart rate, which I never really wanted to wear, and I only really used it for my running. But this is collecting data 24/7 and it's really useful. It makes me more aware of my nutrition, like, 'Joe you've smashed that workout but you've burned another 1,000 calories so have an extra meal today.'
“That's key to my kind of training: to eat enough. I wanna be lean, but full of energy, and that's where the Band 2 is really useful.
“Anyway, you don't have to be a die-hard fitness fanatic to wear this. Before, if you had a running watch, you're a marathon runner, or if you've got a bike computer, you're doing stages of the Tour de France and laps of Box Hill every weekend but this can act as just a gentle reminder to get a good night's sleep, eat enough food…
“It's giving you data a lot of people never think about, from sleep quality to heart rate. Then when you're in the gym or on the road it's saying, 'Come on let's do this, let's get your heart rate up and get fitter!'”
"I share my workouts, so a lot of what I do is at home, but I also use the gym, and I like short runs, hill sprints , anything up to about 5KM.
"I did the London marathon this year and it was the worst day of my life. I was Periscoping the whole bloody thing, and it took me so long to finish they were packing up the banners and stuff on the Mall by the time I arrived. I got overtaken by a guy dressed as a giant set of testicles. It was for charity, testicular cancer. He was dressed like two big bollocks. That was a bad day."