Digital Transformation – That’s what you call #LeanIn15! Joe Wicks, The Body Coach

Posted on Friday, January 22nd, 2016

That’s what you call #LeanIn15! 

How Joe Wicks leveraged the power of digital marketing and social media to transform the Diet and Fitness Industry with The Body Coach

In the first of a series focusing on how Digital Transformation can take many forms, we caught up with Joe Wicks, founder of The Body Coach to discuss how he went from training 50 people a week via his boot camps in Surrey, to transforming the bodies of 100,000 people worldwide in just two years, through his online 90 Day Shift, Shape and Sustain (90 Day SSS) training and nutrition programme.

After just two years, the Body Coach team consists of 50 staff with plans to hire a further 50 (mainly support coaches for 90 Day SSS participants), the opening of a new office in Surrey including a workout studio, kitchen, and an indoor running track, the first book in a series of three reaching number 1 on the Amazon charts, and international expansion planned for the rest of the year.

Who is Joe Wicks, The Body Coach? Joe Wicks, The Body Coach

On his Body Coach website, Joe Wicks declares “I’m a man on a mission to rescue people from the awful dieting industry. I am sick and tired of people struggling on low calorie diets and meal replacement shakes.  I created this plan to educate people and give them the knowledge they need to get a lean, healthy strong body without going hungry”

Joe Wicks is hot property right now.  Presently in the middle of a UK tour promoting his new book Lean In 15 – an Amazon Number 1 seller with a total of 260,000 copies sold in 3 weeks, it is the latest step in how Wicks, a former personal trainer and boot camp instructor has taken the health and fitness industry by storm with the alternative view to losing weight and looking good – by eating correctly to fuel your body and training hard to get yourself in shape. To quote Wicks himself, he’s smashing it!

The Body Coach story isn’t one of an existing business being taken online, more an industry that for many years existed as a 1:1 relationship between the consumer and gyms or personal trainers.  In discussing his business model, the Body Coach has grown organically from a free model of sharing information, turning it into a training and nutrition programme for people inspired by his videos to take action and get #LeanIn15. In Joe’s words, “I loved working as a PT and running my bootcamps but felt that I wasn’t reaching as many people as I liked. I started using social media to share tips, recipes and motivational stuff at the right time to inspire people to get moving and cooking.  Then I realised that so many people were asking me questions about diets so I thought it was a good chance to create a plan and actually help people off these low-calorie diets”

Building Audience

The statistics tell their own story of how Wicks has leveraged the power of social media to build audience and engagement.  At time of writing he had amassed an amazing 620,000 Facebook 110,000 Twitter and 721,000 Instagram followers in just 2 years.

Insta, Facebook, twitter, youtube, snapchat

What is as compelling as anything else with The Body Coach story is the lack of knowledge that Joe had of using such media:

“I had no idea what I was doing and to be honest I still don’t. I never set out to build an online business. I’ve never had a strategy or advice from anyone regarding social media. My aim was to share free content and have fun. In doing so and being so consistent and obsessed with engaging with my audience my following just kept growing”

The content itself is a mixture of Joe’s video recipes delivered in upbeat 15 second Instagram soundbites, training videos on YouTube where Joe himself carries out the workouts to follow, and shared across a variety of social media channels, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube.

Of the social networks, Joe attributes his startling growth to his use of Instagram after starting with Twitter and not getting traction: “Without doubt Instagram changed my life and thousands more. It allowed me to connect with my audience and show my personality and philosophy with 15 second videos. Its also allowed me to build a supportive community and market my business with before and after pics”

Like all popular movements, unofficial community pages have grown on facebook where 90 Day SSS students share their progress, good days, bad days and ultimately results.  There also unofficial graduate pages, individual instagram pages of people posting food and training progress, WhatsApp discussion groups where the message and Body Coach movement has expanded way beyond the content that Joe and his team are able to produce directly.

Try my low carb cheesey meatballs 😍 Tag your mates! 🙌🏽 #Leanin15

A video posted by Joe Wicks #Leanin15 (@thebodycoach) on

Business Model and Additional Revenue Streams

The Body Coach business model was not as defined as you may think and the recent expansion into books, television cooking slots on This Morning and Sunday Brunch has taken an organic and iterative route as the business has grown in popularity.

“I never imagined I would run a company with 50 staff and 100,000 clients within 2 years let alone have a record breaking debut cook book. All of the opportunities which have come my way have been a direct result of having a social media following. The publishers signed me up when I had 100,000 followers and now I have over 700,000 on Insta so 2015 was a great year and the book is doing really well” Joe Wicks, Lean In 15 Book

Similar to Internet Vloggers Zoella, Alfie Deyes, Joe Sugg and Tyler Oakley, where there’s an audience, there’s a willing advertiser. Product endorsements have added to revenues from 90 Day participants and book sales, most famously Lucy Bee Coconut Oil (Joe shouts ‘in with the Lucy Bee’ during the recipe videos) and more recently New York Bakery Co Bagel (the Build Up Bagel recipe is the stuff of legend already).  There are inevitably others to follow.

Given the amount of free content that Joe makes available, you may think it has been a challenge to monetise the visitors who watch for free, into paying members – the 90 day plan costs £147.  Joe thinks differently to most businesses and considered income secondary to building audience..

“I’ve never pushed the plans hard online. I spent 2 years giving out free content and built trust, and when I launched my plan people naturally wanted to be a part of it. 10,000 people signed up in year one, now in year two 90,000 people have signed up so the growth is exponential. I never do sales as I believe in my product and know it gets results for anyone who commits to it because the calories are tailored. I’m also on a mission to get the world lean so will continue to do what I love and that is giving out free content and making people laugh”.

Managing Growth And Maintaining Message 

Like all (business and personal) transformations, there is always the element of doubt thrown at the ability to achieve the claimed results.  Some 90 Day SSS graduates images that appear on the Body Coach Hall Of Fame appear to be good to be true, and as with many social media environments a minority choose to question the reality.  Joe’s mission has been to break down stereotypical views of diet and weight loss, and importantly continue to positively address those that raise doubt:

“Many people can’t believe the changes some people get on my plan and shout “photoshop”. This is boring but of course its the ultimate compliment as the client has transformed and they simply can’t believe it. My plan goes against typical diets because it has people eating more food and burning fat. The testimonials bring the plan to life and allow people to start believing. They often ‘stalk’ for a few weeks before signing up….I don’t mind if people call me a prat or say I’m loud and annoying but I do really get upset when people leave nasty comments about a client. When I post a transformation, I patrol it for trolls for a good hour or so then block and delete any nasty people. I simply have a zero tolerance policy on negativity. I want my clients to be proud and happy and I refuse to let one comment change that”

Growing The Body Coach Team

At Push Beyond, a key element that we focus on in delivering digital success is ensuring our Clients bring their People with them on the Digital Transformation journey.  As The Body Coach has grown, ensuring that Joe’s attitude and ethos permeate through the team has been his main challenge: “The hardest challenge has been upscaling the business and recruiting staff who are as passionate about helping people as me. My support heroes are great but like all businesses which are going through rapid growth we make some mistakes but always try to learn from them as quickly as possible. I’m obsessed with customer service and want all my clients to have a positive experience on the plan from sign up to graduation”

How Will The Body Coach Continue It’s Momentum

Joe Wicks, The Body Coach, Lean In 15

Given the stellar growth achieved in 2015, Joe plans to expand the Body Coach operation in 2016 by taking his mission to America with the launch of the Lean In 15 book in May, further book launches are scheduled and with plans for a dedicated TV show including live workouts and cooking, the growth looks set to continue.

The Body Coach is an incredible story in how, with the right formula and focus on the Customer, the power of social media and viral marketing can propel a small concept to the masses.

Links: The Body Coach Joe Wicks 90 Day SSS Plan Lean in 15: 15 minute meals and workouts to keep you lean and healthy Author: Steve Willey, Push Beyond