Inside a Torch’d Retreat with Isaac Boots

YoI’m doing my best to keep my leg going up and down continuously to the music when Coach Isaac Boots gives a joking instruction: “Watch out for that big face behind you.”

My teammates get leg raises and I laugh, but Boots is right. All sorts of beautiful faces belonging to mature women further embellished by touch-ups and cosmetic procedures surround me on the beautiful terrace of the Hamptons spa where Boots leads us through his Torch’d workout. You certainly wouldn’t want to accidentally punch one of them in the face.

This is a typical comment from Boots, a celebrity trainer who doesn’t like the term “celebrity trainer” because he says his non-industry clients are just as important to him as the actresses and public figures he personally trains or who tune in to his morning Torch’d live streams.

Still, recognizable clients, including Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts, and Vanessa Hudgens, and various “real housewives” like Lisa Rinna, Ramona Singer, Margaret Josephs, are happy to say they’re devoted to Isaac.

“I like to be a little subversive,” says Boots. “It attracts people who don’t take things too seriously.”

His cheekiness, along with the absolutely killer classes he leads, is part of his charm. And that’s even truer at an event like the one I attended: a multi-day Torch’d retreat at Gurney’s Montauk in the Hamptons, attended by fit and bejeweled women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, and even a real housewife from New Jersey, where Boots can play for the crowd in an intimate, soul-savvy way.

“Use your hips,” Boots says in a later class. “This is the Hamptons, you have to hold on to your houses 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 the winter, says Boots, who likes to visit year-round. But this is June and the sun is out at the beach club, even if the wind is a bit biting.

I came in on a Monday to get a 48 hour look at the Gurney’s x Torch’d co-hosted retreat, which other attendees were doing for five days. The devil’s bargain of the retreat is that you stay in a beautiful oceanfront room, eat delicious meals, spend the day at the beach or spa, and do at least one Torch’d class, every day. This is, of course, the draw for the folks at Torch’d who teach online every day, anyway. This week, they get to do their daily workout on the terrace of a spa overlooking the ocean, with their teacher delivering their daring instructions directly.

I got in right away. A Torch’d class began at 5:30 pm the first night of the retreat. We then did it again the next morning at 9:30am, and every morning thereafter.

The Boots’ Torch’d Method is a bodyweight-based muscular strength and endurance class where you do leg raises on hands and knees, pulsating squats, crunches, arm flutters, and other small but specific movements for a seemingly endless amount of time. In other fitness classes I’ve done, the strengthening sections might continue for the duration of one song and then you have a break. Not so on Torch’d, where diva tunes encourage near-constant movement, while Boots encourages quick transitions by saying “quick, quick, there’s no time to waste.” Boots doesn’t believe in mods either; if he can’t do a push-up, don’t kneel or reach for a lean. Just hold a board.

“I like to say there are never dusty butts,” says Boots. “Who doesn’t love a tight ass?”

A man in a white tank top and bright blue shorts leads an exercise class while shouting encouragement.
Photo: Isaac Boots/Torch’d/Gurney’s Montauk

When I ask Boots about intensity, he says that being in tune with your body, controlling and resting when you need it, and then getting back into the movements, is important to him. But you wouldn’t know it from watching the Torch’d retreat students, women of a certain age who absolutely crush every set of push-ups, tripod leg sweeps, and single-legged 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 in shape. “It works for my clients.”

Of course, working out isn’t the only activity at a Torch’d retreat, though several attendees book private sessions with Boots in the afternoons, completing two or even three Torch’d classes per day. But while we’re not in class, we can lie on the beach, explore the city, or get a spa treatment (I got the most relaxing facial ever, thanks to Seawater Spa). In the evenings, we have group dinners where the wine flows and the waiters serve up plates of perfectly tender steak and fresh seafood. One night, we end the night with a bonfire on the beach while one of Boots’s friends, a professional singer, serenades us.

Boots says he designs his retreats to offer his clients what he considers a “perfect day.”

“You push your body to the limit in the morning and then you refresh yourself with beautiful fruits and vegetables, freshly cooked breads and avocados,” says Boots. “And if you want an Aperol Spritz, have it. If not, don’t do it. And have your dogs here, and they run on the beach, and then they eat clams, and my friends sing to you. You know, that, to me, that’s joy.”

It’s also joy for Boots customers. Multiple attendees were repeat Torch’d withdrawals, and they all told me the reason was Isaac Boots: his personality, his energy, his friendship, his enthusiasm. The people he is attracted to were also meeting each other. A New Jersey mom was becoming fast friends with an interior designer from Newport, Rhode Island (where she used to have a “really big house,” but after the divorce, now has something more modest next door to a neighbor’s heliport), as they were both doing Torch’d Tuscany and Montauk back to back. A corporate attorney told me that she liked to come to focus on wellness, at the same time that she met new people and had activities planned that she didn’t have to do alone.

“I’m not anti-aging,” says Boots. “I am pro-vitality.”

Working out for 48 hours like a “real stay at home mom” means spending your feel-good days in pursuit of looking good and supporting your health. You are living in luxury while making friends with women who prioritize the same things as you. You’re talking about how you don’t really eat carbs, while you’re going for that martini. You work your ass off in the morning, and maybe in the afternoon too. You have a teacher who seems to understand you, teasing you lovingly as he reminds you to push, push, push.

“A lot of my clients, a lot of my closest friends, are moms in their 50s and 60s, and they’re very inspiring,” says Boots. “To see that at any age, to take care of and challenge yourself and be curious about how your body can maintain strength, I think that’s a beautiful thing.”

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