The emergence of the ‘brogi’, those yogi bros who just can’t get enough yoga…and how studios can find ways to get more of them through the doors. By Denise Prichard
What do LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, and David Beckham all have in common? Other than being some of the most iconic names in sports history, they are also part of a popular fitness movement known as the ‘brogi’.
When you picture someone who practices yoga, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a young, athletic woman who has the ability to instantly pop up into a handstand and has the flexibility of a lifelong gymnast? While those types of yoga practitioners certainly exist, new research has shown that more men are starting to jump on the yoga train. What was once thought of as a mostly female-dominated fitness community is quickly becoming a popular way men stay fit in both in the USA and beyond.
The evolution of yoga in America
As a yoga practitioner of 17 years, and an instructor with nearly eight years under my belt, there is no doubt in my mind that the yoga landscape in America has evolved to be more inclusive than ever before based on my personal experience. Today, not only will you find men and women alike breaking a sweat on their mat, but there are a ton of other demographics reaping the benefits from this practice — like children, athletes, and trauma survivors.
Although it was quite some time ago, I remember my first yoga class vividly. I was nervous because I had never taken a yoga class before — I also noticed I was by far the youngest person in the class and the class was all women. Being a total yoga newbie, I thought yoga was all about balance and being able to twist your body into the shape of a pretzel — but once the class started, I quickly realised how profoundly difficult the sequences were and how physically demanding the practice was. By the end of class my legs were a wobbly mess, and my muscles were so fatigued it felt like they were vibrating. I feel like the practice of yoga is extremely deceptive if you haven’t actually tried it before. From an outsider’s perspective it looks easy: you’re just slowly moving in and out of poses and stretching, right?
Once I had experienced a class for myself, I could not understand how anyone could ever consider this practice to be too feminine or that it isn’t a strenuous workout. Fast forward over a decade later, my yoga classes are full of male students.
Yep, you read that correctly. I have more men (of all ages) in my classes than women. So, what changed?
The rise of the ‘brogi’ —and men’s wellness
Luckily, offerings in the yoga space have grown drastically over the course of a decade to help coax folks of all ages, genders, shapes, and sizes to take their workout to the mat. And once anyone who has a preconceived notion about yoga gets a taste of what a class has to offer, it will be the last time they ever think yoga isn’t a real exercise. Studios all around the country have been adding more high-energy and physically-taxing classes like Power Yoga, Hot Yoga, and Ashtanga (just to name a few) which could be one of the main reasons men seem to be flocking to the mat as of late.
I think another reason this practice is becoming a go-to work out for men is due to the fact that yoga is the perfect complement to every sport. Case in point? One of my first gigs as a yoga instructor was teaching yin and restorative classes to college football players on a weekly basis to help improve their flexibility, endurance, core strength, and balance. I witnessed firsthand seeing some of the most talented collegiate athletes develop a true appreciation and respect for the practice of yoga. I’m sure they walked into their first class with me thinking it would be a breeze — but even the most sculpted and disciplined athletes realised how difficult it is to hold downward-facing dog for longer than a couple of breaths.
More recently, new research has shown that 64% of men have increased their focus on health and wellness since the beginning of the pandemic. From in-person and virtual fitness adoption and frequenting boutique fitness locations to integrative health practices and prioritising self-care, men had a massive impact on the health and wellness industry this past year. They're prioritising wellness across multiple dimensions.
According to that same research, 12% of men are practicing yoga at least once per week and 21% take advantage of meditation services. On top of that, 72% of men who practice yoga exercise more often, at least three times a week, than men who don’t incorporate yoga in their workout regimen. Of those surveyed, men reported that they exercise because they want to feel good, be strong and fit, and live a long and healthy life.
How can yoga teachers and studios take advantage of these trends?
1. Another survey conducted found that 69% of men prefer to work out at studios that offer more than one type of fitness modality. If your yoga studio embraces other types of workouts within the same walls — maybe your studio also has cycling classes or HIIT classes — try to create a class that complements the other types of classes offered at your studio.
One of the studios I teach at is attached to a rock-climbing facility and an American Ninja Warrior training rig.
Along with our Vinyasa, Yin, and Restorative Yoga offerings, our studio has added new classes called ‘Climber’s Yoga’ and ‘Flow for Flexibility’ to our rotation to encourage those athletes to join us on the mat.
2. Take a look at the other fitness businesses near your yoga studio to see if there is an opportunity there. I’ve seen yoga studios join forces with boot camps to offer recovery classes throughout the week for these athletes. You never know, after one yoga class, these guys could be hooked for life.
3. Talk to the men that already frequent your classes and ask them what types of classes they would love to see on your schedule.
4. Weekend beer and yoga combo classes have been a thing for a while. Now might be the time for you to raise a glass with yoga-curious guys at a pop-up event at a local brewery!
Denise Prichard is a yoga instructor and an experienced content marketing professional within the health, wellness and beauty industries
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.