Joe Wicks has got it so right.

I watched the first PE with Joe workout with mixed feelings. Excited by the staggering number of kids and parents he is inspiring to exercise. Humbled by the man’s ability to switch into my genre and amass such a cult following overnight.

Joe Wicks engages and motivates kids, teachers and parents from a well-earned reputation that precedes his work in schools. He is exceptionally good at what he does. 

Dressed in full Nike apparel and oozing charisma, he is full of fun, energy and relevance. He buzzes around his living room, world map (for cross-curricular learning) positioned above his fireplace, like an oversized bee on Red Bull. Using phrases such as ‘I’m lit’, he connects with his viewers. 

A fantastic role-model – a modern day genius.

Never before has a generation needed this message from such a key influencer. And never more than right now. Exercise to feel good. Exercise more, work harder and you will feel better. This is so true. When I am in a good place physically, I am in a better place mentally and socially. I am happier and more energised and I achieve more. 

The message reaches the audience time and again because he is so infectious, and because it is so simple. I am a firm believer in the power of less, in essentialism and simplicity. Yes, Joe Wicks also cooks. Two things. Done well.

We can learn from this in Physical Education. Ours is a multi-faceted subject requiring wide-ranging facilities, equipment, time and expertise. In schools, and particularly in primary schools, some of these are often unavailable. 

There is no right or wrong answer, no one size fits all solution, to what we should teach children in Physical Education. What is clear is that to engage well in any physical education, we must move well. To move well, we must be physically literate and in good physical health.

It begins with good physical health.

Improved physical health and fitness has a positive effect on depression, anxiety, mood status and self-esteem. These factors reduce the onset of illnesses that lead to children taking time out of class and days out of school. Research indicates that children with good physical health do better in all areas of school life.

Seizing an opportunity – PE after Joe.

When this global pandemic lifts and we return to normality, Joe Wicks will be a fantastic on-line resource for schools. He will be the best wet weather lesson we have – in 2D form.

Let’s keep supporting high quality external provision and keep pushing for qualified PE teachers to deliver breadth, depth, specialist activities and team sports. But let’s begin with physical health front and centre – as something we want and value for ourselves too.

Mike Weeks

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