As a former Ivy League College Football player and current Nike Trainer, Performance Specialist, and founder of The Ocho System, it seems like Joe Holder never stops moving. However, his expansive understanding of the kinetic, nutritional, and mental needs of the human body means that he also understands that pausing to train your mind is just as essential to fitness. We chatted with Joe to talk fitness philosophies, crazy diets, and meditative moments.
How do you define mindfulness?
Mindfulness means being in the moment, but not of the moment, in an agnostic sense. We make the mistake of either not checking in with ourselves or when we do check in with ourselves, giving too much credence to our subjective evaluation of the situation. For me, mindfulness is the ability to be focused and aware of the present moment, but not necessarily prescribing any definition to the moment. Being objectively aware of how we are feeling, understanding why, and being ok with that--rather than being overwhelmed. Mindfulness then allows us to operate in the miasma of the world without being reactive and view situations from a multitude of perspectives, which ultimately leads to an increased likelihood of choosing the best outcome.
Do you meditate? If so, why did you start?
Yes, I do meditate. My dad started my siblings and I meditating at an early age to calm us down and quell any anxiety. (Since there were 7 of us, I imagine this was also necessary for him.) Over the years I have tried many different types, but currently meditate to promote recovery, keep calm and spur on creative breakthroughs.
Are there any overrated trends in the wellness world? Underrated?
Overrated- Reliance on Consumer Buzz Words: There seems to be a general thought that everything that is “natural” (both in food and wellness) automatically makes it ‘good for you.’ I am all for esoteric knowledge and I agree that contemporary science lags behind in its ability to quantify the benefits of many wellness practices. However, people often get lost in the fringes of health instead of relying on what is known to work first and then branching out accordingly.
Underrated- Public Health. There’s an allure surrounding wellness right now that can make it economically unattainable for populations that need it the most.
What’s your fitness philosophy?
“Promoting productivity through physical enhancement”. Taking control of your physical health is a revolutionary step and if done properly, will produce changes in your mental, emotional and spiritual health.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever tried in the name of health?
Craziest? Hm, I’ve tried a lot of things but not sure that they are “crazy.” I just do a lot of things occasionally that would be considered abnormal by most people but are founded in science or have strong anecdotal evidence--including:
-- Bring my own blender on the road when I was college for football to make my own smoothies - ha.
-- Ketosis Diet. Like real ketosis. 80%+ fat diet. Worked well, especially during my half marathon training, but was totally unsustainable.
-- Cold Showers Every Morning. In the winter it feels like you’re crazy.
-- Some crazy herb tinctures for various ailments. Usually they taste awful.
-- Biphasic sleep and other non-traditional sleeping methods. Research suggest that some people aren’t made to sleep all at once and following a different sleep pattern worked for me rather than the standard 6-8 hour block.
-- Chewing garlic during winter as a natural immune booster.
Have you seen the shift toward mindfulness change the way people are approaching their fitness goals?
People are beginning to understand the impact that their nervous system and proper recovery has in meeting their health goals. There is a collective realization that everything starts in the mind as people start to understand that if you can’t control the mind, you won’t be able to control your body to its maximum efficiency.
How do you encourage well-being from the inside out when you train a new client?
My training philosophy encourages:
Introspection- I encourage all of my clients to get in touch with their bodies and minds to understand what they need to work on both physically and emotionally. After all, if you do not know yourself, how can you accurately identify things you need to change?
Meditative Moments- Since most of my clients are young-professionals with high-stress jobs and lifestyles, I encourage them to find stress reduction strategies and “check-in” moments during the day.
Data Driven Analysis- Instead of guessing what their bodies need, I have my clients work with their doctor to get the needed data that I can’t supply by simple physical assessment.
What’s the best/worst piece of fitness advice you’ve ever received?
Best - Strategy must not just be grounded in theory, but also proven in practice. However, always remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Be flexible and never get stuck in your personal dogma.
Worst - Definitely a tie between:
Drink a gallon of milk everyday to gain weight.
It doesn’t matter what time you eat.
Can you share any tips for staying healthy (mentally, physically, emotionally) while traveling?
Mentally- Find a breathing practice that is best for you. Oxygen is the first nutrient. Also, get enough sleep!
Emotionally- Have a group text. Know that person you can call on when things get tough. I’ve realized that I can’t win this battle called life alone and in moments of high stress, or when I’m disconnected from my home base, having friends that will just listen and offer quality advice is necessary.
Physically- Find time to workout. It doesn’t have to be intense but the ability to move and allow your blood to pump and lymphatic system to clean up will do wonders. Also, drink water and find at least one place in the town/city you are traveling that can provide a healthy meal. It’s like having a secret safe space you can always return to.
You share amazing wellness content on your Instagram account. How do you balance connecting with your followers and taking a break and disconnecting from technology?
Meditation and introspection. I try to find an hour once a week to go to the infrared sauna for an intense contemplation and meditation. I reflect to review how past events have affected me both positively/negatively.I try to focus on “being in the moment” and removing technology at various times, especially during the end of the week when I’m with my friends and family. I have people in my life that truly love me, go to bat for me in the most dire situations, and truly want me to succeed. The least I could do is give them my undivided attention.