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Health & Wellness

Podcast No. 11: Joe Holder, Master Trainer, Health and Wellness Consultant

February 20, 2019

My guest today is Joe Holder, a performance, health and wellness consultant, master trainer, and founder of the “Ocho System” for optimizing both your mental and physical condition.

By Will Ahmed

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Joe has a long list of celebrity and supermodel clients who he’s worked with at some of the most elite gyms in Manhattan.

We talk about his background and how he got into fitness, his coaching techniques and recovery methods, the plant-based diet that he follows, some impressive things that stand out in his WHOOP data, and the similarities he sees between training supermodels and NFL players.

I think there’s a lot here that many of our regular listeners can really relate to, and you can expect to see a lot more of Joe in the weeks ahead in our In the Green features across and our social media channels.

Joe Holder Podcast Show Notes:

3:02 – What Does He Do? “I’m a health and wellness consultant … I just have a skill set that I go apply to a whole bunch of different areas, typically within the health and wellness realm and I consult on various projects.”

4:08 – A Typical Day. “I’m very strategic in making sure my mornings and nights can’t be touched by anyone but me.” Joe goes to bed by 11 (hopefully 9 or 10), and is up by 5 or 6. “I’m a fan of that principle of Parkinson’s law, work expands to fill the amount of time that you give it, oftentimes we give work too much time to get done.”

8:01 – Career Path. “I thought I was going to be one of two things, a professional athlete or a doctor. … I was dealing with a lot of injuries in college, there just had to be a better way for me to train, I just wanted to figure out my injuries.” He studied sociology with a health concentration at the University of Pennsylvania. “What fascinated me were the human behavior aspects associated with health on a macro level, that made me study it more on a micro level when it came to training … how can I manipulate for the better other people’s decisions to create positive health outcomes?”

10:52 – Broken Leg Senior Year. He said he’d be back in four weeks to play his final game, doctors told him there was no chance. “I called my shot. I used mindfulness strategies, nutritional strategies, and of course contemporary medicine … why aren’t more people trying to take control of their health by amplifying it [medicine] with alternative strategies and stuff that naturally enhances the body’s healing process?”

12:23 – Mindfulness. He took a course at Penn’s Positive Psychology Center taught by Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, that helped him deal with his broken leg. “However you feel about meditation or not, I basically would just sit down every night and focused on my body healing and changing my perception of how I felt about the pain.”

14:15 – The Crossover Effect. “If you actually think about something working when you’re exercising it increases the likelihood [that it will]. … You can keep some strength in an injured limb if you work out the other side.”

16:17 – College Student to Training Celebrities. How did Joe get to where he is now? “I was cutting chia bars in Whole Foods” while working for a startup called Health Warrior after college. “It taught me a lot about what people are looking for when they make health decisions.” At the time he was sneaking into gyms to train clients, “meeting people in the industry and sticking my foot in.” His “lucky break” came while covering a class that Nike happened to be scouting.

21:21 – Always Saying Yes More Than No. “It never just happens at one moment, it was a cumulative effort that took place over years … It really is a lot of moments of intense self doubt coupled with a few exhilarating moments that are home runs.”

23:43 – Supermodels vs. NFL Players. What is his training methodology for each? “They’re the same, as weird as it sounds. … These models are often so beautiful, nobody really takes the time to understand how they move on a base level. If I can make them more athletic, then everything else they do outside the gym [will be better].”

27:57 – Evaluating Models as Prospective Clients. “First thing I’ll sit down and just talk to them. I need to know a bit more about your background, your emotional states, and health issues you may have had. … There has to be an initial trust that’s created there for best results.”

29:57 – Men Should Train Like Women and women should train like men? “It’s just simply more that there should be a gender agnostic approach to fitness and training. … Men don’t really take the time to think about the maintenance that’s associated with their bodies.”

32:09 – Importance of the Other 22 Hours of the day when his clients are not with him. “How can I subconsciously prime them during the time they spend with me to be more concerned about their overall well being? … The other 22 hours are definitely more important than the workout themselves for overall wellness.” Will adds he had a coach who would always say “Happy athletes run fast.”

33:46 – Plant Based Gang. “I don’t eat meat. My body just felt better [that way]. … Let’s look at food as data and feedback for your cells.”

36:36 – Daily Food Regimen. “I wake up and drink copious amounts of water and I try to do things that stimulate my digestion,” like lemon ginger tea or fresh pressed juice. Joe doesn’t want to rely on caffeine to have energy throughout the day. “I don’t stay away from carbs at all.”

38:20 – Burning Lots of Calories. “Just the amount I’m moving throughout the day … I’m just impatient, I don’t like walking.” He bikes everywhere instead and just wants to “go-go-go.”

40:04 – Supplements. “I’m always toying around with new stuff, I’ve been taking cordyceps of late because it has some correlation to endurance.” Others he uses are B12, zinc, vitamin C, small does of copper for his joints. He cycles on and off so his body doesn’t rely on any of them.

41:38 – Green WHOOP Recovery. “The other day I got a 91, a 97, and a 97 [percent recovery], all three days my HRV was 200+. WHOOP data gives me a lot of insight into the actual strain I’m putting on my body.” He discusses our conception of strain versus what actually is strain. “It helps me track my workouts and see how long it takes to bounce back from certain runs. … It keeps me on top of myself, lets me see how certain changes in my environment are affecting me, especially when I’m traveling through different time zones. It’s woken me up to the importance of taking a holistic view of your day.”

45:00 – He’s Dreaming Again thanks to WHOOP. Joe talks about how the body recovers during slow wave sleep and the mind recovers during REM sleep, which he wasn’t really getting before.

46:44 – Helping Understand his Clients. “Sometimes you want to create workouts based upon the WHOOP data. … It gets them more aware of certain strategies they can put in their day and how much strain they’re actually putting on their body.”

47:43 – Advice for Picking a Trainer. “At the end of the day are you comfortable with them? Are they in the service of you, it’s a service industry.”

48:38 Find Joe on Instagram @ochosystem, he tries to answer as many of people’s questions as he can.

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance and health. WHOOP members include professional athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, fitness enthusiasts, military personnel, frontline workers and a broad range of people looking to improve their performance. WHOOP has raised more than $400 million from top investors and is valued at $3.6 billion, making it the most valuable standalone wearables company in the world. Ahmed has recruited an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, marketers, and designers. Ahmed was recently named to the 2021 Sports Business Journal 40 under 40 list as well as 2020 Fortune 40 Under 40 Healthcare list and previously named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Ahmed founded WHOOP as a student at Harvard, where he captained the Men’s Varsity Squash Team and graduated with an A.B. in government.