While the steady beat of a Madonna mix pulsates in the background, Isaac Boots is on his headset, working and weaving around legs and arms and sweaty brows as he puts his Torch’d fitness class of (mostly) women through their paces:
“Give me four, three … switch legs, straight pulse — here we go, go up! Beautiful — point your toes … yes … eight more like that, lift that ass, Missy, yes baby, higher … tighter … Work, Lenore! C’mon, Sabrina! Give me four more … do NOT even contemplate dropping. We circle ’round … here we go! Woo! That’s right — you all look gooooood …”
Boots is having quite a year. After a successful summer residency in the Hamptons where he taught his intense Torch’d classes at the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE) and held buzzy events and classes at his Torch’d Shoppe in Wainscott, he is now happily ensconced at The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach — kicking off 2022 with a residency that finds him holding classes on the lush lawn of the iconic hotel’s East Garden.
From the looks of social media postings and to hear Boots tell it, Torch’d is hot in Palm Beach.
“It’s over sold, it’s over packed, people traveling from Germany and all over the country, Sarasota, California — it’s insane,” Boots gushes excitedly, via telephone from The Colony, where he says he is “like a permanent fixture,” along with his husband Jeffrey O’Brecht and their Instagram-popular poodle, Davis.
A Broadway dancer-turned celebrity trainer, Boots has worked with or trained an impressive roster of celebrities, including Kelly Ripa, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lisa Rinna, Jessica Chastain, Brooke Shields, Hugh Jackman and Ariana Grande. Even more impressive is the fact that he has raised millions for worthy charities — most recently this past summer during his Hamptons residency, when his classes at CMEE raised funds for seven local children’s charities.
His “Boots to the ground” global community of followers and devotees known as ‘‘Boots Babies” has grown exponentially since he started streaming free Instagram live classes every day at 11 a.m. when the pandemic first hit. He’s still at it.
And while his followers throughout the world are getting Torch’d and making connections and friends online, they are also, upon Boots’ encouragement, donating to No Kid Hungry, a charity Boots is passionate about.
“Torch’d is not just a workout,” emphasizes Boots, “I never really thought that … it’s more of a connection and, of course, a tangible, beautiful thing we have done is raise over $2 million for the underdogs, for the kids who, for them, food is scarce.” He adds, “I don’t think that food is a luxury and I think it’s a very scary thing — it still is throughout the entire world, including our country.”
It’s a cause that hits home for Boots, who grew up very poor, on food stamps, in a small town in Hawaii. So while he is sitting poolside at Swifty’s having lunch with Jeffrey and friends, looking chic in Gucci or in threads by Michael Kors from the new pop-up shop at The Colony, he seems to keep it all in perspective.
“I can never forget who I am and where I come from,” he says. “I know it’s a blessing and privilege to be able to live the life that I live, and I’m aware of that every day, so every day I give an incentive — to give away my workout and hopefully keep that thread of community so we can continue to have people, instead of paying me for that hour, throw it in to feed a kid.”
This is Boots’ first visit to Palm Beach, but it sounds like it was simply a matter of time, or destiny, before he was working under the palms.
“During the summer in the Hamptons, everyone, everyone I came in contact with — friends, clients who would have visited the Torch’d Shoppe — would say, ‘You need to be in Palm Beach in the wintertime — because everyone is there,’” explains Boots.
“Most of my Hamptons people are there and a lot of my LA people are there, too. I was getting DMs from my followers in Toronto and Montreal, and there is a big Canadian faction that has houses in Palm Beach, as well, saying, ‘Please, please, please … we weren’t able to come to the Hamptons this summer, go to Palm Beach.’ And everyone kept saying, ‘The Colony, The Colony, The Colony.’”
Meanwhile, The Colony’s president and CEO Sarah Wetenhall was hearing a lot about Isaac Boots.
“We actually have so many mutual friends who at the same time were bombarding Sarah saying, ‘Isaac Boots needs to be at The Colony,’” explains Boots. “We ran into each other at the FIT Couture Awards a couple of months ago and she was like, ‘Isaac, OK, we need to talk because everyone, everyone, including Hollis Forbes this morning is telling me that Torch’d needs to be at The Colony.’”
The fit is mutual, and a virtual honeymoon of sorts for Boots and O’Brecht, who traveled to the Sunshine State on the heels of getting married in late December at The Carlyle hotel in Manhattan.
“Kelly Ripa married us and Faye Dunaway was our matron of honor,” says Boots with a warm smile in his voice. “It was 10 of our closest friends, and it was beautiful and sacred and intimate — we had lots of bottles of Champagne and pizza.” [laughs]
The couple spent what Boots describes as a “magical” New Year’s Eve at The Colony with friends who visited and who didn’t want to leave.
“The staff here is amazing. … Wetenhall is a genius,” says Boots. “She turns this iconic hotel into something that just feels like home.”
You don’t have to tell that to the playful Davis, who is never far from Boots’ side and who, from the looks of Instagram, has taken to the residency well … like any poodle would to Palm Beach.
“He has settled into The Colony as if he never wants to leave,” jokes Boots. “What’s so great is at the restaurant at The Colony, Swifty’s — we are there every day — they set a table and bring a chair for Davis to sit on. They bring him his own bowl of water, his little cookie, and it is so, so sweet … not everyone welcomes dogs like The Colony does.”
What does Boots think of Palm Beach and his current residency?
“All the people who are taking a class are just so sweet and excited, and the weather is beautiful. Palm Beach is idyllic, it’s like heaven, and I feel very lucky and very blessed that the community, not only at The Colony but the encounters I have had in Palm Beach thus far, have been very beautiful.”
After conducting his morning class at 9:30 a.m. and then his 11 a.m. Instagram livestream, the rest of the day is a full one: personal training sessions, taking care of business and socializing. He and O’Brecht (“Jeffrita”) do lunch daily at The Colony, and Boots admits to doing some damage at the high-end shops on Worth Avenue. Boots loves “anything on Worth” and says, “There is also a great pizza placed called Al Fresco — it’s fabulous!” He says he also loves Le Bilboquet for dinner, but often has dinners at friends’ homes in Palm Beach.
When you ask him why he thinks Torch’d has taken off and become so popular, he is quick to answer:
“Because quickly people realize their ass looks amazing!” [we laugh, but he’s not joking]. Then he gets down to it, reiterating a word he uses often: connection.
“Aside from that … it is about connection. I like to see people, I like to talk to people. I’m not interested in how much you make or what your accomplishments are. I have gratitude for anyone who logs on, who shows up to my events, to anyone who buys any of my merch or donates to any of the causes.”
Speaking of merchandise, Boots has just launched his new Torch’d Kilogear CUT workout weights, which he says are “doctor-approved and science-engineered weights for your arms and your legs.”
Even more appropriate, the new weights are in Palm Beach pink.
“It’s really chic and it’s inspired by The Colony — the ‘Pink Paradise’ as they call it. And what’s really great is that standing anywhere in the hotel, I match the de Gournay wallpaper (see above), which I’m really into because I love a theme,” he says with his signature energy and spark, adding, “I am a gay man of a certain age, okay?” [laughs]
Isaac Boots is in residency at The Colony Hotel until May 1. For more information on Isaac Boots or to book a class, go to isaacboots.com.