MORE than 800 primary school children were treated to a surprise appearance from popular fitness coach Joe Wicks as part of a national book tour.

Winton Primary School in Bournemouth was just one of 12 schools chosen nationwide to host Joe Wicks, as he led 840 students through a fun exercise class, read his new book and took part in a Q&A.

36-year-old Joe, known for his online fitness classes during lockdown, helmed a 5k run across Bournemouth beach on Thursday morning just before the school event, attracting hundreds.

Ahead of the Winton session, Joe told the Echo: “The Burpee Bears is my first children’s picture book which I’m really proud of. It’s a story about a family of bears who go on an adventure, it’s all about movement, exercise and just getting that connection between energy and the outdoors.

“This is really what I love the most and Winton has really gone to town. They’ve got this massive screen and top digital set up, so I’m really impressed. PE with Joe was great but I was standing in my living room in front of a tripod. Coming out and doing things like this gets me lit up.

“Seeing the kids exercising and their faces enjoying it is my passion and I want to do more of this bringing people together through fitness.

“I know that when they walk back into school, they’re going to have a much more focused and productive day. If there’s a few kids feeling a little bit stressed and anxious today, hopefully this will help them.”

The youngsters, aged between four and 11, gave it their all as they followed Joe’s lead on various exercises including star jumps, running on the spot, as well as Michael Jordan-eque basketball leaps.

After the fitness session, in which all staff joined in, Year 6 students read Joe a short story they had written about him and his efforts during lockdown – which Joe described as “amazing”.

One final dance later and the children returned to their lessons, but not before a quick picture for each class.

Headteacher Neil Tarchetti said: “One of our teachers, Miss Churchward, entered our school and we were really fortunate and delighted to get the chance to welcome Joe to Winton.

Bournemouth Echo: Winton Primary School headteacher Neil Tarchetti and Joe WicksWinton Primary School headteacher Neil Tarchetti and Joe Wicks

“It’s been amazing because he’s inspiring in terms of his PE but it’s also great to get an author at the school to show kids why writing is important.

“This all goes really well with our PE curriculum which is of course sports based but is also about promoting healthy lifestyles and choices, so this has worked out brilliantly for us.”

The Burpee Bears is available now in book stores and online.