Trust Me: Isaac Calpito’s Free Instagram Workouts Are Infectious — Just Ask Kelly Ripa
I was really fat as a kid. Like, “Ma’am, your morbidly obese son will suffer from a heart attack by age 13 if you don’t hide the Oreos at home when this doctor visit is over” type of fat. When my parents enrolled me in a soccer program in an effort to help me lose the weight, I mastered the art of pretending to be terrible at athletics to remain benched. But as 2020 has taught us, people and circumstances can rapidly change, and I somehow managed to become an adult who works out several times a week and monitors “my caloric intake” in a healthy, non-destructive way (thank you, therapy!).
So in late March, when gyms and fitness studios across the country temporarily closed down because of the virus, I sought out an at-home workout routine that a) didn’t cost a penny and b) didn’t require more than an hour of my time. What I discovered? Isaac Calpito’s daily Torch’d sessions, which I’ve since followed feverishly. If his workouts were a religion, I’d volunteer for a gig as a disciple and gladly sing to the choir every Sunday (may I suggest Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” to kick off mass?).
Torch’d is a 45-minute, non-stop “dance conditioning” workout that relies on body resistance (as in, your limbs, plus some light weights) and targeted repetition (as in, doing the same move so many times you consider dialing 9-1-1) to sculpt your muscles and burn fat. Think of the workout as a cross between the following: the aptly-titled 1982 VHS tape Jane Fonda’s Original Workout; Dua Lipa’s “Let’s Get Physical” workout video; any Pilates-, barre-, or yoga-style boutique fitness class. The pace of Calpito’s workout is similar to that of SoulCycle’s (he’s a former instructor) or SLT’s. Bala ankle and free weights are encouraged, but I don’t use them.
And it’s available for free every single day on Instagram Live (he’s best known as @IsaacBoots) at 11 a.m. ET. For the past two months, I’ve obsessively tuned in along with some of the star clients he typically holds separate private sessions with: Kelly Ripa, Christy Turlington-Burns, Vanessa Hudgens, Jessica Chastain (and her grandmother), and Lisa Rinna, among others joining from the comfort of their homes. Rinna and Hudgens have appeared live alongside Calpito to promote a donation link to his No Kid Hungry fundraiser, his effort to assist with COVID-19 relief, on their own feeds. With their help and Calpito’s persistence, he’s raised over $200,000 from fans with enough privilege to give back (“I felt helpless, like I had to do something to help others,” he says).
Calpito, who developed the class while dancing in West Side Story on Broadway, tells me the workout is “non-impact yet deeply impactful, baby.” Now, am I the only one who finds the phrase “deeply impactful” a little naughty? Forgive me if my mind is in the gutter. However, the allure of Calpito’s class isn’t just that taking it regularly can help you shed a few pounds (if that’s a goal you’re interested in) or lift your butt a few inches higher (I can attest to that!). It’s that each time I take it I can’t stop laughing my newly-perky ass off thanks to his sharp delivery of sexual innuendo-padded with words of encouragement.
The very first time I tried Torch’d, I was baffled by what the heck I signed up for, surprised by how hardcore it is to lift your leg in the same circular motion for more than 60 seconds. But I was primarily distracted by his rich personality traits. First-timers can expect Calpito to call you “baby” as he takes a “splash” from a glass carafe of water. He’ll sweat seductively in a teeny-tiny tank top (you can purchase your own on his website for $45) worn with teeny-tiny shorts or playful, patterned tights by Terez. Yes, you’ll notice his bulge, and yes, he’ll talk about it. The music will be unapologetically gay (Madonna, Kim Petras, Cher), courtesy of its curator, a friend he’s nicknamed “DJ Steph.” He’ll frequently speak French and elegantly greet regulars like Lizzie (entrepreneur and philanthropist Lizzie Tisch) and Emmanuel (jewelry designer Emmanuel Tarpin) while telling stories about dear friends like Faye Dunaway. At one point, he’ll instruct you to do “The Rinna,” a rather sexy leg movement inspired by the real housewife herself, who participates daily. Also, look out for appearances from his dog, Davis.
And throughout, he’ll deliver horny catchphrases that might make you blush or spit out your “splash” of water. What follows is a sampling of his, uh, colorful language: “Whip it good, baby”; “Leave my banana out of it”; “Circle the top ... pun intended”; “I have a big what?”; “pulse, pulse, pulse”; “I’m thirsty”; “Flirting can be taken the wrong way, do you understand?”; “I know how to tighten your belly and that ass. That’s my expertise ... and other things that I can’t mention.”
“I always try to find a sense of levity and humor about Torch’d because that’s just who I am,” Calpito says, joking that he couldn’t get “these bitches” (his high-profile friends) to work out as regularly before quarantine. A trained jazz and ballet dancer, Calpito also makes time for private sessions with clients like Ripa, who gets Torch’d five times a week. “We spend the entire time listening to Madonna and working hard. I’ve even trained Mark [Consuelos] recently. It’s a nice bonding moment,” he says. “Torch’d is more than a workout to me. It’s a lifestyle.”
I know from first-hand experience that working out after years of inactivity is a challenge (hello, pre-teen self). But if you’re intimidated by trying a fancy, celeb-approved class taught by a man in a candy-colored gym uniform, don’t be: Calpito is a populist who wants everyone to feel good and have fun while sweating, regardless of your size or bank account. As he always says before welcoming viewers to the Church of Isaac each morning, “Good luck and God bless.”