A new form of exercise is helping men around the world reduce stress and develop their flexibility, core strength and reduce muscle tone with not a weight in sight. We’re talking about ‘broga’, a type of exercise designed specifically for men who aren’t interested in chanting and feel overwhelmed by the hyper-flexible yoga devotees who flock to more traditional-style classes.
Despite yoga being originally devised by men, for men – this was lost when the artform was born into Western culture from its Indian roots.
US-based Broga co-founders Robert Sidoti and Adam O’Neill created Broga to provide a comfortable space for men who seek the benefits of yoga by designing classes specifically attuned to their physical strengths, limitations and social conditioning.
O’Neill said he noticed many of his male friends and family members in their 30s were suffering physically and mentally from stress and abuse from hard-contact sports, yet were intimidated by the more traditional-style of yoga classes.
“We saw there was a real stigma amongst men that yoga is a ‘chick thing’, which was really unfortunate. Industry statistics show that only 16% of yoga practitioners are men and we wanted to help change that,” said O’Neill.
“Our aim is to help guys enhance their functional range of motion, improve their overall whole-body health and learn simple breathing techniques to help them live happier, healthier lives.”
O’Neill said Broga is being used effectively by many men as a complement to a more ‘traditional’ gym workout.
“Broga can work in with these types of regimes extremely by helping men develop their strength in different areas - namely their balance, stabiliser muscle strength, breath control and flexibility.”
“You’ll get that pumped-up feeling you get from working out and a deep flexibility and relaxation feeling from ‘working in’.”
“We weave ‘functional fitness’ movements and postures such as push ups and squat variations into our sequences which really elevate the heart rate and follow these by ‘active recovery’ poses which allow you to rest and stretch simultaneously.”
“We also work on loosening up the shoulders and hips, which are often tight and needing work.”
O’Neill said many people were surprised at how authentic broga sessions prove to be.
“There are some misconceptions about what our classes are about based on the playful name ‘broga’. Once people have experienced it they are often surprised by the depth and authenticity of the class. It is far from a hokey, silly practice. The backbone of our class revolves around learning to connect to the breath and cultivate awareness and mindfulness on and off the mat.”
Clients will notice immediately that classes have a different ‘charge’, with Black Keys or Bon Iver more likely to be played than new age relaxation music, and instructors favouring a ‘buddy-style’ approach.
The company is gearing up for a busy twelve months ahead, with a video series production around the corner along with a new partnership with a major international gym company aiming to take broga to the masses.
Broga has also expanded to offer yoga retreats which feature daily classes, guided jungle hikes, surfing lessons, waterfall abseiling and fishing.
“The 10am class was great. If I can get a bit personal, I suffer on and off with anxiety (coupled with palpitations), and this has not been a good week for me. By the end of the class, they were gone and I’m still feeling great. I’m a convert and I’ll be back! Thanks!”
- Lou, 69.
Yoga in Australia
The Australian Bureau of Statistics found just 0.4 per cent of males practised yoga or pilates in Australia eight years ago. But the latest IBISWorld report found interest in yoga and pilates saw an average annual increase of 12.1 per cent in participation in recent years, particularly among men. Males accounted for 27.8 per cent of all yoga participants in 2008, up from 23 per cent three years prior, the report found. It also projected the industry to continue to grow by 4.8 per cent each year until 2017.
Australian broga-inspired classes
The following Australian gyms and yoga studios are following Broga’s lead by offering yoga classes targeted specifically at men:
Nina Tovey is a public relations expert who has supported a wide range of clients throughout her career, including world leading brands, Government Departments and small-to-medium enterprises. Nina is the founder of public relations consultancy Yoke Communications.
25-year-old nurse Coreena Cruceanu’s life turned on its axis when she contracted a Lyme-like illness. The extensive lifestyle and dietary changes she made to facilitate her recovery sparked a fascination with natural health and she is now studying to become a nutritionist.