Fitness can have a purpose other than toning one’s body, says Isaac Boots.
The celebrity trainer/choreographer took his Torch’d workouts from the studio to social media last year, during COVID-19-related lockdowns across the U.S. At the suggestion of a friend, Boots began offering free, daily workouts on his Instagram. His first video amassed no less than 100 views, most of which came from Boots’ clients and friends. Viewership, however, increased exponentially within the week.
“Six days in, we had more than 2,000 viewers, everywhere from Tokyo to Australia, all over South America, all over Europe, all over the U.S., Canada, including my clients,” Boots told WWD’s Jenny Fine, executive editor, beauty, at the 2021 Wellness Forum. Boots’ clients, for the uninitiated, include such stars and socialites as Lisa Rinna, Naomi Watts, Kelly Ripa, Aerin Lauder and Lizzie Tisch, to name a few.
“I have passionate, fervent followers, and it runs the gamut — everyone from sorority girls at University of Michigan, Princeton and University of Miami to 70-year-olds,” Boots said.
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The livestreaming workouts “felt like a very beautiful meeting place at a time of confusion,” and began to serve as a reminder of “mind and body connection,” he said. “The idea of working your body and having that community, it’s synonymous with keeping your mental health in check, as well as the aesthetic of your body.”
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Though he would normally charge for in-person training sessions, Boots said he felt “uncomfortable” charging for his virtual workouts at a time when “people were losing jobs, getting sick.”
He did, however, see an opportunity to raise money for a different purpose.
“I reached out to No Kid Hungry and said, ‘I want to create a link where [the funds] go directly to you,’” Boots said. “My first goal was 10,000 dollars. In two months, we were over 200,000 dollars, and in six months, we were over a million.”
To date, Boots has raised $1.3 million for No Kid Hungry.
“I have a lot of frontline workers and nurses not only in my family, but in the Torch’d community around the world,” said Boots, who noted that he “grew up in Hawaii on food stamps” as a child. “As we open up, as the world shifts, fingers crossed, we can’t forget and we have to thank and be appreciative of the nurses and frontline workers who showed up every day on the front lines and didn’t have the luxury of staying home and getting Torch’d.”
Boots recently partnered with NYU Langone Health to create mental health programs for their nurses and doctors.
“There is a major mental health pandemic sweeping the globe now with nurses and frontline workers,” Boots said. “I collaborated with NYU Langone Health to create the blueprint for other hospitals around the country.”
So far, Boots and NYU Langone Health have raised about $50,000 through the Dance and Donate Challenge.
“When everything is stripped away, people ultimately want to do good, not only for themselves, but also knowing that you’re helping someone who needs it,” Boots said. “This year proved that no one is invincible, no matter what. Health is everything.”
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