Why I can't stop watching Gregg Wallace's workout tips

Let television's favourite grocer, Instagram's most prolific fitness champion and a self-proclaimed “bald king” get you through lockdown.

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Many of us, during lockdown, have decided we want to get jacked. With all this extra free time, doing a digital HIIT class or an online yoga video looks preferable to the dull, numbing effect of rewatching the same shows we’ve watched a hundred times before – at least exercise might actually make us feel something. But while many people may turn to Joe Wicks, Adriene Mishler, or apps such as Shreddy, one man is pioneering an entirely unique genre of fitness content: Gregg Wallace, MasterChef host and TV personality. 

Wallace has been chronicling his highly publicised weight-loss journey on his much-loved Instagram account for the past several months. He posts fitness tips on his Stories daily, giving viewers a glimpse into his enormous home, which resembles the set of a Victorian drama. 

What sets Wallace’s videos apart is, to quote Alan Partridge, the camera angles. Your traditional fitness video might be shot from afar – capturing the whole room, the whole trainer, and giving the viewer the ability to see the whole workout in shot at all times. But Wallace does away with these tired conventions. He likes his videos filmed close-up, directly from above him and sometimes upside down – clearly shot by his wife, Anna, who rarely stands further than a metre away. 

This yields what one might call an arthouse effect; jerky videography, lingering shots of nothing but leg or torso, and exciting moments of Wallace lunging towards the camera during “bear crawls”, moving like a large spider. Often the video starts recording before Wallace realises, meaning you get a half-second of perfect stillness, our guru holding a tightened pose. The offbeat camerawork is a feast for the aesthetic senses – an indie answer to the Kayla Itsineses of the world. 

Tips tend to be relatively simple and accessible for the workout novice – this week’s have included leg lifts and “sissy squats” (“It’s not my fault, I didn’t name ‘em!” Gregg insists). Most of his workouts seem to be a single exercise done in ten reps and five sets, or for 30 seconds on and off (see: ski sits, sitting against a wall, and the aforementioned bear crawls). The majority of these exercises would feature in your average HIIT class or children’s yoga video, but Wallace claims that these, paired with cardio, are how he achieved the muscly Hulk look he sports in abundant topless selfies on his feed. 

Like many fitness professionals trying to hustle through lockdown, Wallace also provides his followers with a meal plan. On Wednesday, for example, he shared that he was having two poached eggs for breakfast, panning over to a pile of “low-fat” chicken sausages, of which there were eight. On Thursday, he posted a video of his peanut butter and chocolate porridge: “The breakfast of kings, bald kings!” he says. To ensure his feed has a healthy balance, he also posts Stories about getting tanked from his garden, with his wife and mother-in-law in shot: adding a down-to-earth quality that likely mirrors our own quarantine experiences. 

It’s important to note that the Gregg Wallace workout regimen is for hardcore Gregg Wallace fans only. Although he has preserved videos of his dog’s ass, a two-second clip of his kid shouting, and a picture of Tom Kerridge squatting while holding a copy of OK! with Wallace and his wife on the cover as more permanent Instagram Highlights, he has not saved any of his exercise tips: so if you don’t watch them within 24 hours of him posting, they’re gone forever. You must absorb and incorporate each exercise as it comes. Trust in the Wallace system that, the next day, an equally useful workout will come. 

If you’re looking for some light-hearted optimism once a day, then look no further than this beefcake grocer. His Instagram will yield not just fitness inspiration, but a “live, laugh, love” wholesomeness that will lift your spirits in these uncertain times. And although you might first come simply for the opportunity to make gains, you may find Wallace’s philosophy of life slowly begin to meld with your own. Soon, you too will find yourself emulating the lifestyle of this self-proclaimed Bald King – one hungover workout at a time.

Sarah Manavis is the New Statesman's tech and digital culture writer. Sign up to her free weekly newsletter the Dress Down for the latest film, TV, art, theatre and book reviews.

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