What Joe Wicks’ new followers reveal about at-home fitness during the pandemic

Written by
Fifty Team

Insights by
Josh Tompkins

15 Apr, 2020

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit in the West, at-home fitness was already a growing category. With connected equipment like Peloton’s spinning bike and live-streamed classes, alongside a boom in digital fitness apps and professional trainers on Youtube, people have never had more options to find a home workout.

But since the mandatory government decision that people can only exercise outside the home once a day, and with social gatherings (including even casual sport games) effectively banned, at-home fitness has become an option for a whole new group of people who would usually stay fit through sport or at the gym.

Determined to understand who this audience might be, we decided to use celebrity trainer Joe Wicks as a lens to examine the evolution of the at-home fitness audience. By inputting Joe Wicks’ account into our platform, we were able to cluster the 90,000 new followers he has gained in the last month into tribes of like-minded people. Using our new Audience Evolution tool, we were then able to understand how Wicks’ overall audience make-up has evolved since the start of the pandemic, comparing his audience from 2019 to differing periods in 2020.

The Body Coach Joe Wicks' new followers as shown on the Fifty platform.

Looking at the tribes, we can see that Wicks’ largest new followings come from Middle England Parents, WFH Professionals, School Teachers & Children, Scottish Males and London Professionals. That in and of itself showcases the times we are living in.

Within Wick’s top five tribes by size, two of them are audiences that most likely have begun to follow him thanks to stay-at-home orders. Wicks’ created massive new interest in his brand when he launched the PE with Joe on March 20th, a daily livestream workout available for free on Youtube. Wicks’ promoted the workouts as a way to keep school children active while they were stuck at home, but the 9am start time appeals not only to school children but to professionals who are looking to squeeze in some exercise while they have a more flexible work schedule.

When analysing Wicks’ audience evolution, we can see precisely the connection between the pandemic, his PE with Joe program and his audience engagement. Looking at his new followers from 2019, it is clear that a more general fitness crowd engaged with him, as would be expected. Busy Health-focused City Dwellers made up almost 10% of his new follower audience at the time, while students, who look to Wicks for budget-friendly calisthenics, made up 5.7% of his audience. But during the week of March 19th, when Wicks’ launched his PE program, his audience shifted with three different School Teacher & Children tribes making up a collective 10% of his new followers, while additions from the Health-focused City Dwellers tribe only made up 3% of new followers.

Network visualisation of joe Wicks' audience evolution, as shown on the Fifty platform.
Network viz of Joe Wick's audience

By combining Fifty’s understanding of social data with our ability to analyse the evolution of an audience, we can create a dynamic picture of how COVID-19 is changing engagement amongst Joe Wicks’ audience.

This offers insight into the at-home fitness market as a whole during this crisis. While home workouts have typically been the preserve of either professionals who are too busy to go to the gym, students who are on a budget or stay-at-home mums who require a shorter workout, global lockdown orders have thrown that presumption outside the window.

If anything, the coronavirus has highlighted the importance of a daily fitness routine, and how home workouts – whether that be via a Zoom class of your local yogi or exercising alongside Joe Wicks – are a crucial part of that. While sport and fitness has been reduced to either outdoor running and walking or indoor calisthenics and stretching, there is also a greater opportunity to expand the conversation around what constitutes health and fitness. It is also an opportunity to talk to new audiences who may have been previously ignored.

Catch up on the latest trends and insights here.

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