How #PEWithJoe bought the nation together

Every weekday morning at 9am families across the nation are tuning into #PEwithJoe, a family workout designed to inject positivity, energy and routine into lockdown.

Nicola Kemp

Managing Editor, BITE

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Influencer. It’s perhaps one of the most toxic terms in marketing, often used as a term of derision rather than a descriptor. Mainstream media columnists have long dismissed influencers; from describing them as ‘detestable freeloaders’ to leaning on narratives of heavily-filtered ‘fashion influencers’ who are seemingly only influenced by the brands sponsoring them, or providing them with free merchandise.

It is a narrative which has more to do with the mainstream media’s fear of influencers eroding their market share than the reality of the diverse landscape of creators. A fact underlined by the stand-out success of #PEwithJoe. A YouTube sensation, which has racked up almost 10 million views in just four days.

Every morning at 9am, Joe Wicks, the personal trainer and YouTube influencer, runs a 30-minute exercise class from his front room. From schools teaching the children of keyworkers to families at home, Wicks has stepped up to become the PE teacher the nation didn’t know it needed.

At times when so many of the things we took for granted in our lives, the health of our loved ones, the security of our jobs, our children’s education, are in freefall, the need to anchor ourselves to new routines is vital. In stepping up to this challenge so swiftly, with grace, humour and a whole lot of energy, Wicks shows the power of using social video to create the social glue of routine and shared collective experiences.

It is also notable that it is an ‘influencer’ that has risen to this challenge, with passion, commitment and speed to market. With YouTube a staple on TV sets across the country, Wicks demonstrates the power of stepping up to fill the void left by school closures and lockdown. For far from being a dirty word, ‘influencers’ can be one of the most vibrant, vital and purpose-driven creators out there. The success and solidarity generated by #PEwithJoe is the creative inspiration we all need right now.