Fit for Fashion Week: Meet the Man Behind 'Fashionista Squad' Workouts

By Leigh Nordstrom on February 14, 2017

It’s one thing to be naturally lithe and runway ready, as models tend to come; it’s another thing entirely to have the stamina and physical energy to trudge from New York to Europe, down runway after runway, for a month straight. Enter Will Torres. 

Torres is the founder of Willspace, a boutique workout studio in Manhattan’s West Village that has, since opening six years ago, attracted a fashion clientele ranging from Calvin Klein to Riccardo Tisci. He and his team are also behind many of the industry’s fittest models, who train with him through Willspace partnerships with IMG, Soul and WME agencies. And for fashion week, the studio has introduced “fashionista squad,” a series of time slots pairing small groups against one another for more motivated workouts, “to help the editors and anyone here for fashion to get through fashion week fitfully,” Torres says.

He started training 20 years ago and after a few years as an Equinox training manager, started his own business. “I started training people in fashion around that time,” he says, over the grunt of a trainee who was toning up for an appearance on a BBC show. “I had a few clients that were in publishing, and they [spread the word] — all of my business is word of mouth. So, I was working with Dan Ragone, who was at Elle at the time, and then he introduced me to some fashion people. We work with a few of the models like Anja Rubik — but, the girls travel a lot. You know? If they’re big names, they’re here for a week, and they’re gone for two months.”

Working with the fashion set began to shape his business approach. “What I found out with the fashion set is that they want to get in shape. They’re traveling, they’re superbusy, and they’re supersocial, and they need to  stay in great shape, right? Especially if they’re going to be on camera, or they fell off and they have to get into great shape soon,” he says. “We’re teaching our clients how to move, and how to control their bodies.”

While the majority of their training is done one-on-one, Torres has begun putting together “squads,” to increase motivation and focus. “What we found is that when you put two people together, they just work a little bit harder,” he says. 

For fashion week, that takes the form of model squads. “We have relationships with some of the bookers at IMG, and Soul — they send us their girls and they’ll say, ‘Look, we’ve got to get them ready. We want to try to get them into Victoria’s Secret,’ or ‘she’s showing at this time,’ or ‘the girls are walking, we need to improve their posture,’” he says. 

The squad set-up also serves as a commitment to stay on top of the fitness game throughout the craze of the collections season. “When you know you’re going to train, you’re less likely to go a little bit crazy, and we all know that during fashion week, between all the shows and parties and social commitments, it can get a little crazy,” Torres says. “But by the end of fashion week, you can also gain five to 10 pounds, eating crap and drinking alcohol, right? So, if you know you have a squad workout the next morning, you’re going to pay more attention to what you’re doing.”