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“Police were breaking down the door, and drugs were stashed in toilets.”
You all know Joe Wicks – the enthusiastic personal trainer-come-PE teacher who kept the nation fit during the (many) lockdowns thanks to his livestream PE with Joe workouts.
You’ll also likely know he is happily married to his wife, Rosie, and has two kids, Indie and Marley, who he’s constantly posting about on his social channels. To an outsider, they look like the perfect family – always smiling, kids eating fruit and veg without hurling across the room, and making living an active lifestyle look easy.
Yet it hasn’t always been easy for Wicks, as he’s shared for the first time in a new BBC documentary, Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood.
Far from it, actually. While the national treasure was growing up, both parents had mental health issues, which he’s touched on before, but never gone into much detail about – until now.
Looking back on his turbulent childhood, Wicks shared that his mother left when he was 12 and his brothers 14 and one.
Calling her “brave”, he shared that she left to undergo five months of therapy for her debilitating OCD – yet it meant the children were in the care of their father, who was addicted to heroin at the time.
Of his Mum’s illness, he shared: “I couldn’t walk through the door without taking my shoes off or have friends round. If I’d known I would have been nicer to her and loved her more.”
But he understands that she had to do what she had to do to get better, and reflects on this in the programme, adding: “For her to leave a one-year-old with a heroin addict, how hard that must have been… She knew if she didn’t go, her whole world was going to fall apart. She did something really brave,” he shared with The Mail Online.
He further detailed that his older brother Nikki, who is now Joe’s manager and a core part of the Joe Wicks team and franchise, tried to shield him from the harsh realities of their desperate situation daily.
Speaking at the screening on Wednesday, Wicks added that he’s certain other traumatic events went on in his past that he “chooses not to remember.”
“The worst thing as a kid is that you feel like it’s your fault, you feel like you’re to blame, or that you’re not worth enough, or your parents don’t love you enough. Those feelings are hardcore man, you can’t carry them as a kid.”
He also added that Joe, his brother, “saw police breaking down the door and.. drugs being stashed in toilets.”
The TV series – which has been produced by well-known documentary-maker and presenter Louis Theroux – came about after Theroux started Wicks’ workouts over lockdown.
He’s shared previously that the short, sharp, 20 minute workouts Wicks share for free on his platforms helped him to cope and boosted his mental health.
Wicks has shared his story in the hope that, for anyone else who had a turbulent or traumatic childhood, they will know they are not alone. Further, he wants to encourage parents who are struggling with their mental health to talk to their children more openly about it.
Speaking to The Radio Times recently, he shared: “As a young kid, I didn’t realise my parents had mental health issues. I just thought my dad was a drug addict and my mum loved cleaning.”
“But I was aware I had this ability to share my story, and that hopefully it would inspire people.”
Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood will air on BBC One on May 16 at 9pm.