Wimberly, who has taught nearly 8,000 fitness classes, had an epiphany after a personal tragedy.
As a celebrity trainer, Jason Wimberly is very conscious of self-image. He has spent most of his professional life working with Hollywood’s elite to improve their bodies and physiques, and it has brought him great success.
With 23 years of experience and almost 8,000 group fitness classes under his belt, Wimberly has taught for SoulCycle and Equinox and created his own brand, WIMBERLEAN. Five years ago, he opened his own studio, The WALL, in the heart of Los Angeles.
Blessed with high-profile sponsors and clientele, Wimberley had little reason to change course. He even had a YouTube series with queens from A hole.
But then Wimberly experiences the worst event of his life: his best friend dies in his arms.
At just 38, Wimberley’s friend was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The diagnosis made no sense: his friend never smoked or even drank.
But he was dead within months.
During this painful time, Wimberley explored deeper questions about the human psyche and spirit. He concluded that shame can be a deadly emotion; and although he has spent his life working with clients to overcome the discomfort they feel in their bodies, his friend’s tragic death showed him that shame can also be internal.
Then Wimberley decided to undergo a radical change. He would ditch all the trappings of celebrity workouts and focus on the human body in its purest form.
The Naked Trainers were born.
“My business was very image-based and everything was fine. But when Andrew passed away, it really changed my perspective on a lot of things,” Wimberly told Outsports. “Andrew lived with a kind of dark shame. I believe these things killed him.
At first glance, linking emotional well-being to nudism may seem like a stretch. But there is research that supports the link.
Researchers at the University of London have conducted three studies in recent years showing a link between people who “spend time naked or partially naked around others” and improved well-being.
Nudists (or partial nudists) said they liked their own bodies more, had higher self-esteem and were more satisfied with their lives in general than those who were fully clothed.
There may be selection bias. Conventional wisdom suggests that people with a positive body image would be more likely to shed their clothes in front of others.
But not everyone who visits Wimberley’s retreats is an experienced naturist. Dylan Bulkley had never imagined going to a nude wellness retreat before; but after two years of Zooming out of the Covid era, he longed for new experiences.
“I felt so separate from everyone,” he said. “We were doing all this Zooming and we weren’t able to go to the bars and see people the same way. To go to this retreat in this beautiful place and hang out with a bunch of guys was just a lot of fun and liberating.”
Tim Morgan, another retreat participant, says the experience was liberating (in this case, literally and figuratively).
“It was very energizing for me. It was very exciting,” he said. “Being outdoors in such a beautiful setting and love. You combine those two and Jason’s leadership and it’s wonderful.
The retreats, held in bucolic naturist resorts and areas throughout California, include conventional group activities such as biking, yoga, hiking, meditation, and water aerobics.
There are also elements of what Wimberly describes as “cock-centric programming.” Those interested can read more about these specifics on his website, but the idea is to boost self-esteem through social nudity.
“We have to be out in the open and barefoot. That’s how we should be,” he said. “But now because of society, we are inside air-conditioned places and wear plastic shoes on concrete floors. None of this is what we should be doing. This is not the best for us.”
Admittedly, Wimberly faces distractions on her way to naked workouts. Some of his sponsors went out of business when they learned of his new venture, and his credit card service even shut him down.
But he doesn’t do that for sponsors anyway. He wants to take off those plastic shoes and get off those squeaky clean gym floors.
“A lot of people come up to me at the gym and say, ‘I don’t like this. I don’t like this I want to change this I think you have to come to a place of self-love first,” he said. “There’s a lot of nirvana in our bodies that I help people explore.”