Fitness expert Joe Wicks has revealed he worried as a teenager that he would get caught in a “vicious cycle of drugs and council housing” due to his troubled childhood.
The 36-year-old, known as The Body Coach, said that people would be cruel to him and his family as his father was a heroin addict who was in and out of rehab.
Wicks went on to become a successful TV presenter and author after posting fitness and cooking videos on Instagram, finding further fame during the pandemic with his popular PE With Joe live workouts.
He told The Big Issue: “If I could talk to my teenage self now I’d say: ‘Don’t believe all the bad things other people say about you.’
“One of the feelings I had about myself was that I was from a s**t family.
“If my mum ever had an argument with the neighbours on the block they’d be like: ‘Your kids are gonna be junkies like their old man.’
“And I believed all that stuff, that I’d be in that vicious cycle of drugs and council housing and I would never get out.”
He added: “So I’d say to my younger self: ‘Don’t listen to those voices. You’re going to change your perception of yourself, and you’re actually going to be an amazing adult.’
“‘You’re not a loser, you’re gonna do loads of good stuff.’”
Wicks’s mother also suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and an eating disorder, while his father was an addict who struggled with depression.
The fitness coach noted that his mother’s “strict old-school” parenting style helped keep him and his brothers out of trouble.
He added: “I can see now how important the boundaries she set were. She sat us down and said, you have to be home by this time, you can’t do this and that.
“If we hadn’t had those reins on us, we would’ve been a little bit loose. We wouldn’t have come home by midnight. We would’ve been up to all those naughty things kids do between midnight and 4am; partying, getting drunk, experimenting with drugs.”
In a new BBC documentary, Joe Wicks: Facing My Childhood, Wicks has opened up about his complex upbringing and how it affected him as a child
Wicks, who is expecting his third child with his wife Rosie Jones, added that his own childhood has made him think about the kind of parent he wants to be.
He said: “I don’t want to be intolerant and slapping the kids, I want to be really loving. I’m constantly learning and challenging myself to be a better dad.
“Eight times out of 10 I think I’m fun and calm. Sometimes the kids go on and on and on and I end up going: ‘I can’t handle it.’ But that’s just human nature.
“So I’d say two times out of 10 I might have a little shout, but that’s pretty decent, I think.”