Broga for Bros

Image Credit: Borealis Yoga
Image Credit: Borealis Yoga
Image credit: Broga website

Hey bro, where’s your yoga mat?

“Where it’s okay if you can’t touch your toes.” This line undoubtedly grabs the attention of men checking out the Broga website. Men are not known for their flexibility and their willingness to sit cross-legged in a yoga class full of women in spandex chanting. Yoga is known to increase core strength, improve flexibility and ease stress, but it is typically the domain of women. On Saturday, April 25, 2015 a daytime yoga class at XSport Fitness in Alexandria, Virginia assembled with sixteen women and 2 men.

Two fitness minded men, Robert Sidoti and Adam O’Neill, understand the need for men to feel comfortable in a fitness class and developed the idea for Broga. Their website says Broga’s mission “is to offer men real tools for coping with daily stresses and demands through an accessible yoga-based fitness program taught from a man’s point of view. Broga is for every “body,” from the beginner yogi to the professional athlete.”

O’Neill told me a number of subtle things differentiate Broga from other types of classes, like “type of cuing/language used, instructor attitude, “vibe”, more masculine music, etc.”  O’Neill says the most significant difference is that “Broga combines yoga with functional strength training exercises and intense cardio bursts, something you won’t find in any other yoga-fitness format.”

Although broga is geared towards men, women are welcome to join the party. According to O’Neill, yoga classes in the U.S. are typically 85 percent female and Broga classes on average 85 percent male, but women are more than welcome and many both attend and teach classes.

I asked O’Neill, based in Massachusetts, when Broga will be coming to the Washington, D.C. area. He says, “There is a significant amount of interest in the D.C. area, so we hope to be there soon.”

Check out the link below for more information on Broga, a video and the 30 day challenge!

Broga® Yoga 30-day May Challenge – 2015!

We’re bringing it back!

Last year was a big success, so we’re dusting off the archives and bringing back the Broga 30-day video workout challenge through the month of May.

It’s totally FREE. All you’ve got to do is sign up and we’ll email you to a 8-12min workout every day.

Workouts feature Broga Creator & Co-Founder Robert Sidoti or a guest instructor. As you may know, Broga classes combine yoga, functional training, and intense cardio.

These are short videos, so each will focus on one of those three elements. Some will be mostly yoga, some will be mostly cardio or strength-focused.

The video quality is scrappy (no cinematography awards here), but content is fun, challenging, and gets the job done.

Once you’re signed up, be on the lookout for some great bonuses and prizes.

NOTE: Some of these exercises are are easy and some are very challenging. DO NOT hurt yourself. Make sure you get your doctor’s approval before engaging in any physical exercise, including these Broga workout videos.

Click the button below to sign up. We’ll see you at the challenge!

The Role of Women in Mixed Martial Arts

Image credit: ESPN
Image credit: ESPN

The sport of mixed martial arts fighting is growing in popularity in the United States. You are just as likely to walk into a bar and see cage fighting on television as baseball or basketball. Female fighters like Ronda Rousey have made women’s mixed martial arts even more popular. The question coming up in this sport is, will the sexes ever compete against one another? In Rousey’s last fight on February 28, 2015, her female competitor, Cat Zingano, only lasted fourteen seconds before losing to Rousey. Kail Bosque, owner of Conquest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Maryland, says once a competitor reaches the age of eighteen, men and women never compete against one another.

Magazines like Men’s Fitness glamourize the idea of “watching two hot, half-naked women strangle each other into submission,” but what would they think about a mixed gender fight? Some opponents of the sport think women should not participate at all, even against each other. In answer to the opponents, Rousey says in an interview with Jimmy Fallon, “This is the most pro-woman sport in the world. I’m the number one draw in all of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and I’m a woman,” Rousey told Fallon. “To say it’s anti-woman is anti-feminist.”

How about a transgendered female athlete fighting another female in this combat sport? Fighter Fallon Fox is facing this controversy right now, she is the first openly transgender athlete in mixed martial arts history. The aggression that is associated with mixed martial arts fighting is a contradiction with qualities most of society associates with being female. From a physical standpoint, it brings a new argument into the ring; will a transgendered female have an advantage?

Dr Eric Vilain, the Co-Director of the Institute for Society and Genetics at University of California, Los Angeles, has helped the Association of Boxing Commissions write its transgender policy. The International Olympic Committee has already ruled that transgender athletes can compete in the Olympics. Still, the UFC, Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s leading mixed martial arts promoter, refuses to rank Fox as a female fighter. What actually constitutes a “male” or “female” fighter is a question that will have to be answered as men and women continue to fight.

Fit to Fight and Fight Fit at Conquest

Image credit: Elaine Perkins
Image credit: Elaine Perkins at BJJ Conquest

Some people take martial arts to learn discipline, or develop self-esteem, or increase their physical fitness. By studying Ju-Jitsu, girls and boys can accomplish all of these goals.According to the United States Ju-Jitsu Federation, Ju-Jitsu means “gentle art” and was designed as a combative system in which a smaller person can defeat a person of greater stature.It was the primary unarmed combat method of the Japanese Samurai. All techniques are taught to be done with proper form, control and responsibility.

At BJJ Conquest, Maryland’s premiere Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and mixed martial arts training facility; people of all ages and genders pursue their own personal goals.In addition to mixed martial arts training and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Conquest offers traditional boxing, Fight Fit, striking, and children’s wrestling. There are classes specifically for women that teach form and fitness, as well as hard core training for male professional fighters.

Fight Fit is one of the women’s fitness programs currently being offered at Conquest. Their website says, “If you want to train like a fighter but not get punched in the face while doing it – Conquest fitness programs are for you.” This class provides a place for women and girls to fit into this often masculine environment and have the chance to partner with other women during their workout. According to owner Kail Bosque, Fight Fit is an intense, women only class where there is no judgment.”It is not a competition” says Bosque, “everything is scaled to your own level of fitness.” Coming soon, Conquest is developing a new fitness class similar to Fight Fit. It will feature a new name and will be geared towards men and women participating together.

Conquest welcomes people of all ages to their training programs and classes. “Children as young as four years old can train at Conquest,” says BJJ’s owner, instructor and amateur mixed martial arts fighter Kail Bosque. Bosque says for confidence, Jiu Jitsu is the best choice for children because there is more contact than with other martial arts. The children gain discipline and the willingness to be aggressive (in a self-assertive way) which helps them overcome fear and shyness.

According to, the tournament rules for age division and gender are clearly stated. “Kids” are ages 6-15 (male and female) 
and “Juniors” are ages 16 -17 (male and female). These age groups can compete across gender, but each child is placed according to weight, age and experience. They try not to mix girls and boys if there a suitable same sex opponent, but it is sometimes necessary. Adults are divided by age and then gender after they reach eighteen years old.

Jenna Sattler, fourteen years old, of Pasadena, Maryland, can hold her own. Whether it is with children her own age, either gender, or the adults, Jenna is a competitor. Sattler began learning karate at age 7, now she attends classes at BJJ Conquest in Millersville, Maryland at least four times a week. She takes a variety of classes, including Jiu Jitsu, and competes in grappling which includes grabbing and controlling your opponent. I asked her if she participates for fitness or as a sport, and she replied “Jiu Jitsu as a sport”, but she trains in Fight Fit classes for fitness. As a young women, I asked her how she felt about competing against males. Sattler says, “at 14 years old, boys are getting stronger, but I would rather go against a boy my age than a woman.” When asked why she enjoys this sport and these workouts she says, “I want to get better.” She is self driven and does it for herself, to be her personal best, even if she is “always sore!”

Image credit: Elaine Perkins
Image credit: Elaine Perkins


Warrior Pose

The U.S. military is turning to meditation, stretching and mindfulness to enhance the performance of troops. They see it as mental preparation in order to better handle stress. According to a January 2013 article in the NY Daily News, “Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training” or “M-Fit” was designed by former U.S. Army Capt. Elizabeth Stanley, a professor at Georgetown University who found relief doing yoga and meditation for her PTSD.”

Image credit: Yoga Across America website
Image credit: Yoga Across America website

The National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says yoga can be beneficial for many people. The benefits can include a reduction in stress and anxiety, relief of back pain, increased physical fitness and a sense of general well-being. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, yoga is the sixth most commonly used complementary health practice among adults.

Yoga Warriors International is one organization that aims to combat stress and post traumatic stress disorder through yoga. Another organization targeting service members is Warriors for Healing. According to their website, “The mission of Warriors for Healing is to spread awareness about the transformational science of yoga and its effectiveness in combating stress and PTSD – we do this by holding major events throughout the year.” These programs are not gender exclusive, both men and women service members can participate and benefit.

Tim Godlove, a director at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, says he would have tried yoga if it was offered when he served twenty years ago. Through the availability of these programs and the recognition of the benefits of yoga by the military, male and female troops are learning more about the benefits of this transformational practice.