Operation Transformation Versus Joe Wicks: The Body Coach – Who will win?

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Guest Contributor: Noel Flynn from ABC GYM

For today’s post I wanted to write about something that has played on my mind the last couple of years and with the recent launch of Celebrity Operation Transformation and Joe Wicks – The Bodycoach on TV, I think now is finally time to dissect these types of shows and use my own corner of the internet to have a little rant, if of course a rant is needed!

The last week or so saw, not only the launch of the Celebrity Operation Transformation, but also a new show to hit the fitness space, Joe Wicks – The Bodycoach, who is famous for his lean in 15 recipes. In the past I have been very critical of Operation Transformation and other weight loss shows similar to this, but I decided to watch the 1st episode of both series in order to get a feel for what direction the shows were going and to see was there anything that could be influencing clients or potential clients thoughts and education around food and fitness. Whether we like it or not, people are hugely influenced by what they see in the media and we all know if it is on the TV it must be correct, surely!

So what were my 1st impressions?

I watched the shows with an open mind. I could be jealous of Karl Henry and Joe Wicks and their ability to get on TV. I could watch them ready to catch them out, ready to jump on any misleading information, false claims and be ready to critique the life out of the shows. Instead I tried to watch as a potential client or as somebody seeking help or motivation from shows like this. I tried to look at it from the point of view of someone seeking advice and looking for change . When I put that ‘hat’ on the first thing that struck me was the show’s Opening Credits.

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To begin, Joe Wicks was all fun, happy, smiling and in fact quite endearing. He portrayed a very  bubbly personality. On the other hand, the Operation Transformations panellists we introduced to the viewer with their arms folded, with frowns on their faces, looking mean and strict. I don’t know about you but I know which one I was drawn to more straight away and that was Joe. It is something I have always voiced is that the Fitness Industry is a scary, intimidating place for a lot of people.

Ok so now to the content and advice in the shows.

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 14.16.59I am going to be honest here, I find it difficult to relate to Operation Transformation. This is not as a dig at the show, but I have never been obese, I have never been overweight, all I have ever been is in athletic shape or just slightly out of shape. I hope by saying this, I do not come across as  arrogant, cocky or anything, as this is not my intention. I am just trying to suggest that I do not understand what is going on in the minds of the heavily obese but I am sure they are not overjoyed at getting into the lycra for the weighing scales. The contestants on Operation Transformation are in need of an Intervention. They need this intervention because their lives are at stake such is their levels of ill health.

So what about the contestants on Joe Wicks show.Well in episode 1, they  fall more into the young but ‘not in the shape they want to be in’ category. The ‘I want to look good in a bikini’ category. Their health was not their major concern, it was more about looking good in a photo that they were concerned about . As shallow as that sounds,  given that I am getting married in 7 months’ time, this was the category I could relate to a lot more.

But what of the advice given to either of these 2 audiences, was It correct and did it generate results?

Results from both shows were amazing, they really were and they are to be applauded for that. However, would you achieve the same results by following the shows plans? Here is the thing, the result you achieve, will all depend on your motivation, your discipline and your ability to work hard. Again all words that are intimidating for a lot of people.

What really works for TV show contestants is the fact that the plan is short term, meaning a lot of work can be done based on initial motivation and upcoming deadlines.Yet the biggest factor in these shows is the accountability. To quote Katherine Lynch “the whole nation is watching” and you feel it is your obligation to be fit and healthy so that you do not let anyone down.

Operation Transformation is great for developing the community aspect of the show. It means you are not alone, you are in it with others who are sharing the same experiences and same struggles . You can help each other, motivate each other, compete with each other all of which creates accountability, which is what the biggest driver for me is with these shows. There is no doubt about it, Operation Transformation really has changed a lot of lives in a lot of communities around Ireland.

Now for Joe. Keep in mind that Joe has the different audiences and is aiming his programme at a different market to Operation Transformation.


Firstly his tag line ‘Eat More and Exercise Less’ – this is the last thing that should be said to the Operation Transformation audience but let’s bare Joes audience in mind. He has generated a huge following across his social media in the last 2 years. This is where he performs HIIT  (High Intensity Interval Training) and shows his Lean in 15 recipes, which are all made of natural ingredients and are shown in a quick, flashy way.

I would imagine Joes audience are professional in nature, enjoy his fun nature and realise that they are not a long way from getting in shape. They are prepared to eat right and train hard and even more importantly have the physical ability to train hard because his exercise routines are far from beginners standard. (this alone will put off the obese)

Now with that person in mind, a person who has  the physical ability when they start training again, when they start eating in a certain manner, they soon get hooked from the feel good endorphins that exercise and food brings. They will soon train more, they will soon question the excessive calorie content of his recipes and as smart people adjust to what they feel will get them results.

The food advice on both shows both has massive room to improve but they give people a start.

The training and exercise advice on both shows are related to the particular niche audiences as spoken about  above. Again I find that there is room for improvement in these programs. However, if you can’t invest in personal training that gives you a program that is tailored to your abilities and your needs, then you’re best off just picking the one programme that suits you and it will give you a great start on which you can grow.

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 14.35.25In the past I have been heavily critical of Operation Transformation and the gruelling workouts in the water and muck in the Curraghs, as well as other obstacle courses but as of yet, there has been none of this on display . This is a good thing and as far as the Celebrity version of the show goes, the  direction of the exercise was more sensible….so far.

Try this legs and glutes workout 👊🏽🔥💪🏽 #fitness #workout #leanin15 #fitspo

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

Regarding Joe and his claims he has achieved the physique he has purely from the HIIT workouts in his videos, well as good as the workouts may be for increasing cardio, improving heart rate levels and burning fat for the duration of the exercise, he is definitely doing a lot of strength training to build the body he has. In fact I have visited the semi private personal training gym he trains in and his trainers are not doing HIIT workouts with him!!!

In terms of the people, Joe is very likeable and has a natural attraction. Operation Transformation has Katherine Thomas who is also has the likeability factor but for me viewers will relate to the contestants most and if you like a contestant and buy into their story this will guide you more than the coaches on the show.

While there is massive room to improve in terms of the shows content. I think it is great that there is TV based on health and fitness and as long as they help more people on their health and fitness journeys, I am all for them.

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You can follow Noel on Snapchat on @abcgym and on Instagram here.

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