Joe Holder, Trainer to the Stars

Joe Holder, Trainer to the Stars

With an endorsement from Naomi Campbell, Holder is making all the right moves.

With an endorsement from Naomi Campbell, Holder is making all the right moves.

Photography: Britt Lloyd

Styling: Scott Shapiro


This interview appears in the pages of VMAN40: The New Vanguard Issue, on newsstands now. Order your copy today at!

Master trainer Joe Holder’s 50,000 Instagram followers may know him best by his handle, @ochosystem, a moniker that, to the uninitiated, could signify the number of ridges in his eight-pack. But “Ocho System” actually refers to an overarching fitness philosophy made up of eight core tenets. As documented in his Instagram Stories, which alternate between high-intensity workouts and trips to Paris Fashion Week, Holder has parlayed this philosophy into a front-row seat to fashion and a roster of cool clients, from Naomi Campbell to Natasha Lyonne. “I like to say I’m fashion-adjacent. I’m not in it but I dabble in it when I need to,” Holder says.

Holder’s path to becoming fashion’s go-to trainer began in 2015 when, while working at a gym in New York, he signed with Nike’s training concierge service. The brand paired him with Derek Blasberg, who became a friend. “I was tagging along with him everywhere from Paris to around New York City,” says Holder. “He always made introductions for me, and still continues to.” Since then, he’s built a network of friends and clients that includes Virgil Abloh and Riccardo Tisci.

While his mix of gym selfies and celebrity snaps may be social media catnip, Holder is skeptical of the influencer phenomenon. “You’ve got to post thirst traps sometimes; low-hanging fruit,” he says. “But instead of this self-glorification and shit, it’s like, what are we really doing to change the overall structure of society to make people healthier?” Hence Ocho System’s holistic approach, which Holder developed while mentally and physically failing as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. “My last year of school I broke my leg, and the doctors told me I would be out for the year,” he says. “[It] wasn’t healing because mentally I was in a pretty dark place, dealing with some mental health issues, and I was like, you know what, let me figure this out. And I ended up coming back in four weeks,” he says.

While he may occupy a rarefied space now, Holder plans to eventually bring Ocho System to the masses. “I can’t say exactly what I’m planning, but it will be on the digital front to reach more people,” he says. “Whether I’m working with a Victoria’s Secret model or someone that works in finance, people just want to feel good.”



Dream Weaver