Is This the Breakout Star of Virtual Fitness? – The New York Times
By Katherine Rosman
After getting Torch’d, you’re likely to wake up sore the next day. But Mr. Calpito’s constant monologue keeps exercisers coming back. “A lot of you are so preoccupied with whether to point or flex your toes,” he said during one session earlier this month. “Just move your damn leg, OK? Like, you’re not auditioning for American Ballet Theater. Those days are gone. Just torch that” rear end, he said. Alas, it’s difficult to quote Mr. Calpito’s mid-class soliloquy without running into a word that rhymes with “sass.”
“This one’s for you, Taylor, and every boy who ever broke my heart,” he said recently while doing tush-toning leg circles as a Taylor Swift song played. He cursed his exes, then continued his instruction: “Now carve out that real estate, baby!” There will also be the occasional wry, off-topic cultural observation (“When did all the gays get married? It’s so confusing to me”).
The trainer coos over his poodle, named Davis after Bette, who prances into the frame from time to time, often wearing a red Gucci cardigan. “He’s a bit fancy. I try to keep him humble and remind him that his father grew up on food stamps,” said Mr. Calpito, who was raised by a family of humble means in Waimānalo, Hawaii, a small town on the island of Oahu.
As a boy who loved dance and theater, Mr. Calpito was bullied, but kept at it, encouraged by his grandmother and mother. In 1998, just after graduating from high school, he booked a one-way flight for New York. He slept on the floors of friends’ dorm rooms, hit audition after audition, and got his first big gig within six months, as part of the touring cast for “Mamma Mia.” In 2003, he joined the ensemble of the Broadway production.
He next was cast in the 2009 Broadway revival of “West Side Story.” The production was directed by Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book for the original music back in the 1950s. “Arthur became a very important mentor for me,” Mr. Calpito said. “He kept me on track for bigger goals. He was a father figure.”
It was during the production that Mr. Calpito created a floor-exercise circuit to give himself a full-body workout when he had no time to go to the gym. “I created this flow and this method that I knew would work for me, and I did it alone every day on the stage of the Palace Theater with my boom box with Madonna playing before performances,“ he said. “Before long, other castmates started doing it with me.”
In mid-March, Ms. DiTullio contacted him and suggested he pack up his two dogs (the other has since died of old age) and shelter with her. “Days into the quar, I was wondering how I was going to connect with my clients so I offered the Torch’d workout as something as a one-off,” Mr. Calpito said. A few hundred people from all over the world tuned in. “It surpassed any of my expectations,” he said. So he kept going.
Caryn Wall, 54 and sheltering at home in Virginia Beach, Va., with her husband and two teenage children, started doing Torch’d after hearing Ms. Ripa talk about it on TV. “Isaac’s doing every single move with you, he’s sweating just like you are, he has wonderful energy and the whole time you hear him calling names like Lisa Rinna and Aerin Lauder,” said Ms. Wall. “You feel like you’re in the class with them.”
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