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- The Fitness and Wellness Fundamentals MasterClass focuses on better whole-life health.
- The class is taught by Joe Holder, a Nike Master Trainer and plant-based coach.
- Overall, I love that the class encourages a holistic, functional approach to movement and eating.
Looking to get into wellness, but lost on where to start? There’s a MasterClass for that.
Earlier this year, the educational streaming service released a fitness and wellness fundamentals series hosted by Joe Holder, a former Penn football player, current certified personal trainer, GQ columnist, and all-around darling of the fitness and plant-based community. He also holds credentials in fitness nutrition, women’s fitness, and functional movement, as well as the title of Nike Master Trainer/Run Coach.
Don’t expect just a string of workouts (although there are a few guided workouts included). Holder wants to teach you to think about wellness more holistically, incorporating nutrition but also social, emotional, community, spiritual, and environmental health.
What Is MasterClass?
MasterClass is an online, subscription-based education platform featuring courses by industry and thought leaders in a wide range of fields, from politics to entertainment. A subscription costs $15/month for the standard plan (more for premium or annual memberships) and gives you unlimited access to streaming classes, which are organized into multiple lessons that can be completed at your own pace.
What It’s Like to Take Joe Holder’s Fitness and Wellness Fundamentals MasterClass:
The MasterClass is great for beginners, offering a way to start thinking holistically about health and wellness. But more experienced fitness and wellness enthusiasts will likely learn a few new things as well.
The whole series is only two hours and 36 minutes long, and I personally broke it up over the course of a week. The individual videos – even the workouts – are pretty short (the longest is 29 minutes), so it’s not at all intimidating, nor does it require heavy note-taking.
The program is based on Joe Holder’s own Ocho System, which refers to his Penn jersey number but also stands for “one can help others/others can help one.” From this perspective, picking up a phone call from a loved one is a wellness activity. Eating more sustainably for the sake of the planet can be a wellness activity.
Working from a broader definition of “health” encourages viewers to move away from the myopic goals of many traditional fitness programs that promise, for instance, a better butt in four weeks. Holder acknowledges that people care about their appearances, but in his words, “Fitness is not the most important part of your health regimen.” It’s not just a whole-body, but a whole-life approach.
Holder is extensively knowledgeable about fitness and places emphasis on the purpose behind every action. There are three guided workouts in the video series – a mobility workout, which features mostly slow, muscle-stretching moves; a HIIT workout that is sweaty but extremely beginner-friendly; and a strength training workout. If you don’t have much experience in different kinds of exercise, don’t worry – he goes at an easy-to-follow pace and demonstrates form for every move. His approach to fitness is unique in that he asks students to think in terms of function, not body parts. Instead of focusing on the core, or arms, or butt, he presents biomotor attributes for students to work on: Strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, and coordination. And he explains how the various exercises contribute to each of those abilities.
The series doesn’t completely avoid the unscientific tropes we commonly see in health and wellness media, particularly BMI and weight as an indicator of health. (Holder also promotes the use of smart scales to measure body fat percentage, which I learned is borderline junk science when researching scales earlier this year.) He also urges you to focus on metrics (weight, but also blood pressure and cholesterol), which may be slippery slope territory for those who struggle with disordered eating.
That said, Holder’s perspective is still much more forgiving than that of many fitness instructors. He encourages viewers not to restrict their eating in a way that feels punishing, and to listen to one’s body, even when what it’s asking for is a nap. (Or pizza, from time to time.) As he says early in the series: “I’m not gonna hit you from a self-loathing perspective, about things that are wrong with you, to try to get you engaged into fitness. That’s not what I do.”
The series is chock full of small, digestible tips and tricks that viewers can pocket, such as how to prepare vegetables for maximum nutrition. He also promotes “exercise snacks,” which are essentially micro-workouts you can squeeze into your daily life. One of the later videos delves deep into recovery, with the help of Joe’s physical therapist brother, Dr. Michael Holder, PT, DPT. Together, they explain different forms of post-activity recovery, and when and why you would utilize them.
Holder also touches on sociality and community as important but often overlooked aspects of health, though he doesn’t dive too deeply into the facts and theory behind them. In the accompanying handbook, he shares some interesting information on the connection between self-care and social justice, for those who are interested. Maybe he’s leaving most of that material for a second course – if that’s the case, let me know when I can enroll.
The bottom line
The MasterClass‘s greatest value is that it gives viewers new things to think about in terms of health – and positive ways to think about them. It emphasizes focusing less on what you want your body to look like, and more on what you want it to do – emphasizing that exercise and diet are just two aspects of living a healthy, fulfilling life.
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