When yoga first came to the United States it was mostly regarded as a chick thing, and the few men who rarely walked into a yoga studio were only waiting for their girlfriends. Things have changed a lot in the last few years, and now almost 50% of attendants are men, but there are still stiff guys out there who don’t feel comfortable in the same room with a bunch of flexible women. That’s where broga comes in.
As its name suggests, broga is a variation of yoga tailored for “bros”. It’s based on the idea that most men want to keep fit without feeling emasculated by silly posies, meditation and Sanskrit chanting. Co-founders Robert Sidoti and Adam O’Neill have found a way to combine yoga routines with manly exercises like push-ups and squats to make the original Indian practice more appealing to men. Guys usually engage in other types of physical activity, like tennis or basketball, because it feels like a better workout, but broga is brutal enough to make you sweat and catch your breath, while at the same time improving your muscle and joint flexibility and reducing stress. Sidoti and O’Neill also design their studios with men in mind, and although they don’t look like regular man caves, the two always opt for neutral colors and use a soundtrack featuring the Black Keys, Radiohead, Awolnation and Bon Iver instead of the traditional New Age music commonly used for yoga. Their instructors don’t sound like the usual zen types either, but more like buddies giving you pointers.
Photo: Lizzy/Eastern Beach Life
Although broga is quickly growing in popularity, its name has proven a double-edged sword for the business. On the one hand it sets the tone immediately, letting guys know classes are accessible and instructors don’t take themselves too seriously, but it also creates the impression of a dumbed-down version of yoga, which Sidoti claims is wrong. “There’s a lot of movement linking the postures, but adding push-ups and variations of squats,” he told The Boston Globe. “People see the name ‘Broga’ and they think it’s just a bunch of idiots. But there’s integrity.” And just because classes are geared for men doesn’t mean girls can’t attend. “It’s less of a scene,” Sidoti says. “They come in their sweat pants and just do their thing.”