"I was a really big party mess,” says Jock Yoga founder Michael DeCorte, who has no problem calling himself a reformed gay club kid from the old days of Unity parties. “I went in and out of being into drugs and alcohol, and I was really out of shape. When I finally got sober just over a decade ago, I started getting really fit, running marathons and bodybuilding, and it was right around that time that I tried yoga — and I was hooked.”
Four years ago, after getting a degree in public relations, DeCorte was horrified by the idea of being stuck in a desk job, so he took the plunge and started teaching yoga. “It’s hard to make it as a yoga teacher, and I wanted to stand out from the crowd, so I went to LA and studied with some of the renowned teachers there. And I happened to hit it off with Vinnie Marino, the celebrity yoga teacher,” DeCorte says. “In his advanced classes people weren’t binding themselves up into pretzels; it was more about the intensity, the pace, how long they held things and a lot more about conditioning and endurance. When I got back I started teaching more that way.”
Despite the dexterity and intensity required, yoga doesn’t have the butchest image, but DeCorte is out to change that with Jock Yoga. “I know a lot of guys think that yoga is all flowery, that you’re going to touch your toes and burn incense, but a lot of it is about postures that help strength and endurance,” he explains. “I have a higher percentage of men in my classes and more muscle-y men than your average yoga class. One of the guys who took the class described it as a balls-to-the-wall, full-body workout, and then some. It pushes you to your limits and then pushes you past them.”
When you step into a Jock Yoga class, it looks like your typical Zen environment, but be warned — it’s far from it. DeCorte doesn’t let anybody off easy. He seamlessly mixes familiar yoga poses with techniques designed to engage and blast your upper body and core while working on your balance and flexibility. Set to a soundtrack of top-40 mixes and contemporary trance, the hour-long class will leave you satisfied and soaking wet. (Editorial note: this writer had to take a few breaks to catch his breath and wring out his shirt and can confirm the class was definitely a workout, not a low-impact affair.)
“[A lot of men] go on a Pride diet, and Pride workout and yoga is a perfect complement to both of those things,” DeCorte says. “With yoga the muscle growth response is better if your muscles are stretched. You also start using more muscles than just the superficial ones you are working out, so your body becomes stronger as a whole and you’re less prone to injury.”
DeCorte will be running a Jock Yoga bootcamp during the month of June. The weekly classes will focus on upper body, core and lower body on specific days, making you ripped and limber just in time for Pride. DeCorte and his yogis will lead the pre-Pride parade stretch for participants, and he’ll be teaching classes in the Free Zone area over Pride weekend for folks who want to get warmed up before they hit the dancefloors. “It’s kind of a power yoga class on steroids,” DeCorte says. “Yoga that will kick your butt and shape it at the same time.”
Matt Thomas had his ass kicked during the writing of this story.