My companions with leg lifts and I are laughing, but Boots is right. All kinds of beautiful faces belonging to mature women further embellished by adjustments and cosmetic procedures surround me on the beautiful deck of the Hamptons spa where Boots guides us through her signature Flamed coaching. I certainly wouldn’t want to accidentally see one of them in the face.
It’s a typical comment from Boots, a celebrity trainer who doesn’t like the term “celebrity trainer,” because he says his non-professional clients are just as important to him as the actresses and public figures he personally trains or who listen to his morning Torch’d live streams.
Still, recognizable clients including Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts, and Vanessa Hudgens, and several “Real Housewives” like Lisa Rinna, Ramona Singer, Margaret Josephs, are happy to say they’re Isaac followers.
“I like to be a bit subversive,” Boots says. “It attracts people who don’t take things too seriously.”
His cheekiness, along with the absolutely killer classes he runs, is part of his charm. And that’s even more true at an event like the one I attended – a multi-day torchlight retreat in Gurney’s Montauk in the Hamptons, attended by fit, bejeweled women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, and even a real New Jersey housewife, where Boots can perform in front of the crowd in an intimate, informed way.
“Use your hips,” Boots says in a later class. “It’s the Hamptons – you have to keep your homes somehow.”
Inside a Torch’d Retreat
On a winding road nine minutes from the Montauk train station, Gurney’s Montauk Resort and Seawater Spa is the only year-round resort in Montauk that’s actually right on the beach. That makes it “hauntingly beautiful” in winter, says Boots, who likes to visit year-round. But it’s June and the sun is shining on the beach club, even if the wind is bit biting.
I arrived on a Monday for a 48-hour preview of the co-hosted Gurney’s x Torch’d retreat, which other attendees were doing for five days. The heck of a retirement deal is that you stay in a beautiful oceanfront room, eat delicious meals, spend your day at the beach or spa, and take at least one Torch’d class, every day. That’s of course the draw for the Torch’d crowd who do online classes every day, anyway. This week, they can do their daily workout on a spa deck overlooking the ocean, their teacher giving them sassy instructions directly.
I got thrown out right away. A Torch’d class began at 5:30 p.m. on the first evening of the retreat. Then we were back there the next morning at 9:30, and every morning thereafter.
Boots’ Torch’d Method is a bodyweight-based muscular strength and endurance class where you do leg lifts on your hands and knees, pulse squats, crunch variations, arm kicks, and other small but targeted movements for a seemingly endless amount of time. In other fitness classes I’ve taken, the strengthening sections can last for the duration of a song and then you get a break. That’s not the case in Torch’d, where diva tunes stimulate near-constant movement, while Boots encourages quick transitions by saying “quick quick, no wasting time.” Boots doesn’t believe in mods either; if you can’t do push-ups, don’t kneel and find an incline. Just hold a plank.
“I like to say no dusty asses, ever,” Boots says. “Who doesn’t love a tight ass?”
When I ask Boots what the intensity is, he says it’s important for him to be in tune with his body, check in and rest when needed, then get back to the moves. But you wouldn’t know that by watching the Torch’d Retreat students, middle-aged women who absolutely crush every set of push-ups, tripod leg sweeps, and single-leg hip thrusts.
“The proof is in the pudding,” Boots says of the effectiveness of his method, which he developed while working as a Broadway dancer to stay fit. “It works for my clients.”
Of course, working out isn’t the only activity on a Torch’d retreat, although many participants book private sessions with Boots in the afternoon, taking two or even three Torch’d classes a day. But as long as we’re not in class, we’re free to lie on the beach, explore the city, or have a spa treatment (I had the most relaxing facial treatment of my life, thanks to the Seawater Spa). In the evenings we have group dinners where the wine flows and the waiters bring out plates of perfectly tender steak and fresh seafood. One evening, we end the evening with a bonfire on the beach while one of Boots’ friends, a professional singer, serenades us.
Boots says he designs his retreats to give his clients what he considers to be a “perfect day”.
“You push your body to its limits in the morning, then refresh yourself with lovely fruits and vegetables, freshly baked breads, and avocados,” Boots says. “And if you want an Aperol spritz, take it. If not, don’t. And bring your dogs here, and run on the beach, then have a cambake, and have my friends sing for you. You know, that, for me, is joy.
It’s also a joy for Boots customers. Several attendees were repeat Torch’d retreatants, and everyone told me the reason was Isaac Boots: his personality, his energy, his friendship, his verve. The people he attracted also found themselves. A New Jersey mom quickly befriended an interior designer in Newport, Rhode Island (where she had a “really big house,” but after the divorce now has something smaller next to a neighbor’s helipad), since they both did Torch’d Tuscany and Montauk back-to-back. A corporate lawyer told me that she enjoys coming to focus on wellness, while meeting new people and planning activities that she doesn’t have to do on her own.
“I’m not anti-aging,” Boots says. “I am pro-vitality.”
Training for 48 hours like a “Real Housewife” means spending her days dedicated to feeling good with the goal of both looking good and supporting her health. You live in luxury while befriending women who prioritize the same things as you. You talk about how you really don’t eat carbs while going for that martini. You break your ass in the morning, and maybe in the afternoon too. You have a teacher who seems to understand you, making fun of you, while reminding you to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.
“A lot of my clients, a lot of my close friends, are moms in their 50s and 60s, and they’re so inspiring,” Boots says. “To see that at any age, to take care of yourself and challenge yourself and be curious about how their body can maintain its strength, I think that’s a beautiful thing.”