Fitness expert Joe Wicks has reflected on the unexpected positive outcome of growing up with parents who suffered from addiction and mental health issues.
Wicks, 36, known as The Body Coach, began posting fitness and cooking videos on Instagram in 2014 before becoming a successful TV presenter and author.
He found further fame during the Covid-19 pandemic with his popular PE With Joe live workouts.
Speaking ahead of a new BBC documentary, Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood, he said: “Childhood trauma has, without a doubt, manifested itself in me, in a positive way.”
Wicks’s mother suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and an eating disorder, while his father was a heroin addict and struggled with depression.
Despite having described his childhood home as “like living in an Ikea show home” due to his mother’s obsessive cleaning habits, and often hearing his father referred to as a “junkie”, Wicks said: “You can turn it around and use that energy in a positive way.”
Although he is close to his parents – both of whom have now worked through their personal struggles – he revealed he is conscious of his own approach to parenting as a result of his upbringing.
He said: “I’m constantly checking myself and trying to improve.”
He has two children, Indie and Marley, with wife Rosie, who he married in 2019. The couple are expecting their third child in September.
— Joe Wicks (@thebodycoach) May 9, 2022
“It’s really, really made me want to be a calm parent that doesn’t shout because it’s, you know, it’s something that is in me,” he added.
“But I do still slam doors, and I feel terrible. I feel so guilty, but then when I walk away, I’ll come back and say ‘I’m really sorry, I love you’.
“And I always remember that whatever happened with my mum and dad, I don’t hold those things against them. So I’m not going to be a perfect parent every day of the week.”
Wicks said he plans to make sure his children are aware of his childhood and their family’s history.
“I think it’s important to bring them into the conversation and let them know about my history,” he said.
“Because they live in this wonderful house… and I want them to understand that not everyone lives in these houses and has the holidays that we do.
“I want them to appreciate our life and be grateful and thankful and know that the history of our family really created all of this, it really did.
“So I’m going to talk to them openly and get them talking about their mental health as much as I can when they start going to school and get on phones and stuff like that.”
Wicks has 4.4 million followers on Instagram and 2.7 million on YouTube, which has led to near-constant communication from fans who are struggling.
“The more I share about mental health, the more that comes in,” he said.
He revealed he can spend more than five hours a day replying to direct messages from followers and often feels “guilty” that he is unable to reply to every message.
“I give out love and positivity, and I get it back. That is my drug, that is my dopamine,” he said.
After creating the BBC documentary, Wicks said he began to recognise how the constant communication with fans was affecting his own mental health.
He said: “I’ve learnt to let go a little bit.
“I can help a lot of people but I can’t help everyone.”
In 2020 Wicks was made an MBE for services to fitness and charity.
Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on May 16 at 9pm.