Fitness Guru Sparks Outrage By Letting His Baby Hang From A Pull-Up Bar, But It Turns Out Every Baby Can Do It

All babies are just tiny muscle heads genetically programmed for gainz. Does your baby even lift, bro?

Joe Wicks Instagram

Babies are miraculous creatures, so much so it turns out they can do feats of strength some of us are never able to achieve.

When UK fitness guru Joe Wicks, 37, showed off his infant daughter's super-strength, however, not everyone was impressed. Some were downright outraged instead.

Fitness guru Joe Wicks posted a photo of his 7-month-old baby doing a pull-up.

Wicks has become famous in the UK and Australia for his at-home fitness routines and easy, healthful recipes for people on the go, and along with behind-the-scenes glimpses of his many fitness videos, it's that kind of content that makes up the bulk of his social media presence.


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But at the moment, he's most famous not for goblet squat tutorials or healthy pancake recipes, but rather for his most recent Instagram post, which has left some people gasping in anger. 


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The photo shows baby Leni hanging from a bar on a California beach several feet off the ground by just her hands.

Of course, Wicks is standing right beside her — he's not a psychopath or anything.

The photo was taken on the beach in Santa Monica, California during a recent trip to Los Angeles that Wicks took with his wife, Rosie, baby Leni, and their other two children, Indigo, 4, and Marley, 3. The photos he posted showed he and his family having a ball in the California sun, including stops at a skate park in Venice and a kids' painting class.


But it was by far the photo of little Leni dangling several feet off the ground from the pull-up bar as Wicks looks on proudly that enraged the public. Completing the image is Leni's little face, which looks every bit like the one you or I might make if trying to do a push-up — lips pursed, cheeks pushed out — although she seems far more unfazed than most of us would be. 

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Several commenters accused Wicks of endangering his baby with the photo.

The vast majority were taken with how cute little Leni looked doing the stunt. "That first picture of Leni is amazing!" one commenter wrote. "You need to recreate that every year!" Others were just impressed by Leni's baby super-strength. "Oh my Gosh," one woman wrote, "look how strong Leni is! Wow!"

But there was a far more vocal minority who were shocked by the photo — and not in a good way. "Jesus, is the first picture photoshopped?" one commenter exclaimed. "Is that safe for her shoulders and joints to hang onto bars supporting her own weight like that?" another person asked. One user begged Wicks not to ever let Leni perform the stunt again, writing "please don’t do that to your baby, she would be frightened!"


One person even went so far as to compare Wicks' photo to an infamous incident with Michael Jackson and his baby back in the 90s. "First thing I thought was that’s worse than Michael Jackson with his baby dangling by one arm over the balcony," the person wrote, which another commenter found patently absurd. "How the hell is this worse than dangling a baby out of a window by one arm? Are you ok hun?!" the commenter cracked. And it turns out that Instagram user is exactly correct.

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All babies are able to dangle like Wicks' due to an evolutionary holdover called the Palmar Grasp Reflex.

You know how when you hold a baby then tend to grab onto your finger and squeeze it with what feels like a vise grip — at least relative to their size, anyway? It turns out that's more than just a cute little baby idiosyncrasy, and it's the whole reason baby Leni was able to do a pull-up as a tiny infant.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the Palmar Grasp Reflex is a "primitive, prehensile, involuntary response to a mechanical stimulus present in a newborn." The reflex begins at just 16 weeks' gestation and premature babies of just 25 weeks can do it outside the womb.


The exact reason why human babies are able to grip so tightly and hold up their own body weight isn't precisely known precisely. But many animal species whose mothers carry their young in their fur exhibit the same reflex, which is what allows the young to hold onto its mother. So one scientific theory posits that the human palmar grasp reflex is an evolutionary holdover from when we, too, were covered in hair — in the ape sense and not in the missed-your-waxing-appointment sense.

So there you have it. Wicks' baby was just doing what any and all babies are designed to do, so lay off the outrage and go get your baby her gainz, brah! And then afterward maybe give her a tiny ice bath for her tiny sore muscles, as Wicks does with his.

Just kidding, please do not do that. Babies may be able to do pull-ups but our evolutionary ancestors did not take ice baths, to our knowledge. Best to leave that to the adults!


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.