The popular Broga Yoga program, while initially designed for men, is gaining global traction with both genders, according to co-founders Robert Sidoti and Adam O’Neill.
Broga begins fairly innocuously. Our introduction is led by co-founder Robert Sidoti taking class through a series of mindfully-focused breathing exercises over a lush, peaceable soundtrack in a sleek exercise studio.
We are exuding nothing but calm, until we are not.
Sidoti artfully transitions us from the breathing exercises to yoga poses, then at the half an hour mark, to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises such as jogging on the spot, pushups, burpees and squats. We conclude with mobility work and breathing exercises in a mild sweat.
It’s easy to pigeonhole Broga into a program designed exclusively for men – the name speaks for itself – but Sidoti, a disarmingly charming 40-something, is quick to assure us otherwise.
Today, Broga has 700 trained instructors in nine countries and about 60 cities around the world. A typical Broga class includes a blend of yoga and high-intensity bodyweight fitness movements, neutral cues that do not invoke Sanskrit and three “levels” of difficulty for each position and exercise to cater for differing fitness levels.
In short, Broga isn’t “broscience” but a movement rooted in making yoga accessible to everyone. Sidoti was recently in town to personally conduct Broga Yoga classes at Virgin Active Singapore and shared his thoughts on the growing movement.
Doyenne: What led you to want to bring yoga to other guys?
Robert: In 2009, I started teaching a yoga class on Martha’s Vineyard called “Broga.” This eventually led to two weekly classes for a group of dedicated “Brogis.”
I created the workout to bring the benefits of yoga to more men by creating an optimal and balanced fitness program. Broga is founded on the belief that both men and women can live happier, healthier, more fulfilling, injury-free, and self-aware lives if they incorporate yoga into their current health and wellness regime.
D: Is Broga for men only?
R: No! In the beginning the intention was to focus solely on “bringing yoga to more men”. Pretty soon into this endeavour, we started to get a lot of interest from women, they wanted to learn how to teach this type of class and wanted to attend the classes. Gradually over the years we adapted the overall program to an open-to-all concept, realising that there are a lot of women out there looking for a more straightforward approach to yoga.
D: How has Broga evolved since its launch?
R: We began Broga with one main class concept or sequence. This class is still being taught and we consider it our signature class. But over time, we began to receive a lot of feedback asking for more stretching or therapeutic style approach, classes that offered movement that helped with restoring and relaxing the body versus working out. Now we have a class concept called Broga Chill which people really seem to enjoy!
D: How have people reacted to the Broga brand so far?
R: There are several reactions to the brand name “Broga” and all that it brings. Some think it is genius and wish they’d come up with it, some get a good laugh and understand right away what it is.
Then there are others who have a very negative reaction, enough to make posts, send emails and make comments wherever they can to express their disgust in what we are doing having never spoken to myself or Adam, never taken a class, or know anything about it besides the name.
This has been difficult because I know what I am offering is making a difference and helping people as I continue to work hard to share what I believe to be valuable. I wouldn’t change a thing regarding Broga, it is the reason we are where we are and I am appreciative and grateful to be able to offer and share it.
When we set out on this mission, it was and still is for the people who haven’t found their way into a yoga experience yet. It’s been a very good practice for me personally as the “creator” of Broga to stay focused, do good work and trust that it will all unfold as it’s supposed to.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that yoga is a female endeavour. We created Broga to make yoga accessible to everyone, from the beginner yogi to the professional athlete.”
D: The biggest myth about yoga is...
R: That yoga is a female endeavour. There are many benefits that men can gain from yoga, but they miss out on these due to the absence of classes that take into account inherent male physiology and social conditioning. Many men are also concerned that yoga is not suitable for them as they lack flexibility and prior experience.
D: What concerns you most about the future of the fitness industry?
Adam: The biggest challenge for fitness and yoga brands is reaching the people who aren’t getting enough exercise. My concern is that technology advancements (VR, AR, etc) will make it even easier to live a sedentary lifestyle. The challenge will be to make exercise fun, engaging, and ultimately habitual, so that it becomes a natural part of people’s day-to-day lives.
“I wouldn’t change a thing regarding Broga, it is the reason we are where we are and I am appreciative and grateful to be able to offer and share it.”
D: What’s next for Broga?
A: We have just merged with another company, called Yoga for Men, and formed a new company called YFM, which stands for “Yoga.Fitness.Mindfulness.” Through the merger, this makes us the largest full-service men’s yoga company in the world. The Broga name and training program will remain as-is and will continue to grow.
Within five years, we hope to be reaching at least one out of every 100 people in the world who wants yoga education, inspiration, teacher training, and/or apparel.
D: Lastly, your one one go-to fitness tip is...
A: Always remember that SHOWING UP is a huge part of how you’ll meet your goals and make positive change in your life.
Make your health and fitness a priority, there is always time and a way to “fit” it in your day. Whenever you find yourself saying “I just didn’t have time to go to yoga or workout”, change the dialogue to “It wasn’t my PRIORITY to go to yoga or workout”. This might affect you a little more if you hear yourself say this.
As far as yoga goes, never feel like you have to look or live a certain way. Come as you are, with a little determination, dedication and discipline and all will be good!
Images: Robert Sidoti, Creator & Co-Founder of Broga® and Adam O’Neill, President & Co-Founder Broga® Yoga