Listen: Joe Wicks needs a break. Since the 23rd of March – that’s roughly three months or a geological eon ago, depending on how lockdown’s warped your sense of time – he’s been tirelessly turning up on TV and laptop screens every morning, bouncing off the walls at 9am in a bit to keep the nation fit and (somewhat) sane.
Now, after several thousand Spider-Man lunges, many of them done dressed as Hanna Barbera characters, the nation’s favorite PE teacher has announced that he’s taking some downtime. He’s cutting back to three days a week – still more than almost everyone else was exercising before this all started – and many fresh-minted fans are, understandably, bereft.
With fitness, after all, the habit is the thing: clocking in at a set time every day to get the sweat flowing and endorphins going is the best way to stop the descent back into sluggishness. So what do you do with the two mornings a week that Wicks won’t be around to guide you? Or, if you fancy moving on, with your newfound enthusiasm for jumping around before you start work? Really, it depends on your goals, and who else in your family you need to worry about.
Here’s a selection of options that might work for you.
If you need some peace and calm…do Yoga with Adriene
It’s tempting to look at Adriene Mishler’s minimalist aesthetic – quiet house, zero clutter, peacefully slumbering dog – and conclude that you’d never be able to pull off one of her classes in your rowdy toy-pit of a living room. But give it a go: she’s got practices for every level of commitment, from 10-minute bursts to hour-long stretching regimes. Challenge the kids to work on the tougher balances, and encourage them to focus on their breathing – it might even stop the ceaseless shouting.
If you’re a dancefloor embarrassment…try The Fitness Marshall
If the last dance craze you fully embraced was the Gangnam Style gallop, the modern world of Fortnite-inspired flossing and TikTok challenges probably seems weird and terrifying. But don’t worry, Caleb Marshall, AKA The Fitness Marshall, has you covered with easy-to-follow, moderately-energetic dance workouts set to the most popular pop tunes you’ve never heard of. Kids will love it, you can do a couple of minutes and sit down, and you’ll have at least one new trick to pull out at weddings.
If everyone’s feeling energetic…do Animal Flow
Part of the joy of Joe, of course, is that he goes beyond press-ups and squats into more fun movements that tap into everyone’s love of let’s pretend. To take things a bit further, search for ‘Primal movement’ or ‘Animal flow’ workouts, which combine challenging floor-based movements with mammalian mimickry that’ll work your proprioception (your body’s sense of where it is in space) at the same time as it exhausts your own little carnivores.
If you’re aiming to get fitter…add some resistance
Interval training is fine for a bit of fat loss and cardio, but for all-round fitness – and added protection against everything from Alzheimer’s to osteoporosis – you’ll want to add some resistance to add muscle and improve bone density. This might mean adding improvised weight, but it can also involve finding creative ways to add leverage to classic bodyweight exercises. Twice a week would be a great start.
If fat loss is the goal…spend the time on making food
Been breathlessly grinding through mountain climbers for the last 12 weeks with barely a dent in the old Custard Cream corset to show for it? The problem in a (delicious) nutshell is that even the most enthusiastic Wicks workout is barely going to burn 400 calories, while an ill-advised addition to your lunchtime Deliveroo could notch up twice that. In cost-benefit time terms, then, you’d be better off spending half an hour, twice a week, on worrying about what you’re going to eat – getting the online shop right, meal-planning, looking up recipes, or even chopping up fruit and veg in advance. Head off the obvious temptations to binge or snack – for you as well as the youngsters – and the battle’s half-won.
If you want high intensity…create your own workouts
By now, you’re almost certainly a pro at the dozen or so moves Wicks uses most often, and you know the basic structure of the workouts, so look, it’s fine to just make your own. Make sure you’ve got a blend of moves that tax different bits of your body, poll the family for their favourites, and put a mixtape on before it’s time to embrace the grind. It’s also worth taking the opportunity to experiment with intervals. If you’re doing high-resistance moves, for instance, more work and less rest is the right prescription.
And if you just love Joe…try harder when he’s still around
Quite honestly, you probably don’t need to do five HIIT sessions a week, with at least one study suggesting that three might be the sweet spot. Instead of re-doing old workouts, then, or doing burpees with a picture of Joe propped on the mantlepiece, just rest and recover in your downtime, ensuring that you’re ready to hit it harder on the ‘on’ days. Even Olympians don’t train every day.