Dean Pohlman is on a mission: To get more men to do yoga. Here’s how he does it
At first glance, you would not think that Dean Pohlman teaches and does yoga for a living.
That’s because the founder and CEO of Man Flow Yoga, a website that offers instructional yoga videos, retreats, and exercise guides among others, has the physique of someone you’d assume would rather pump iron than hold a Downward Dog for minutes at a time.
Yet that is exactly what prompted him to create his company: He wanted a way to make yoga more appealing, more approachable to those who possess a Y-chromosome.
“I want to break down the stigmas and create a [type of yoga] that’s more focused on fitness,” Pohlman says. The people who would be most interested in what he has to offer, are those who like the physical benefits of yoga, and not so much the lifestyle and environment that it is traditionally fostered in.
For those who may find this to be a turn-off, he is quick to say that this is one of the reasons why men have a hard time looking into yoga as a serious fitness regimen. Plenty of guys he had talked to before starting Man Flow Yoga “wanted a workout, not a therapy session.”
By offering an alternative, non-granola way of doing yoga, Pohlman is able to reach out to an audience that would benefit greatly from its practice.
He admits that there are still some preconceptions that he encounters from prospective clients, such as yoga not being able to give them definition, i.e. muscles. This is partly because most male yoga instructors, Pohlman finds, don’t look the same way that most guys would want to look like. “Men point to someone who is built and they say, ‘give me the same body,’” he says.
He differentiates his practice by showing clients exactly how much of a guy’s guy he is: He’s the fellow who did sports in high school, lifted weights and played lacrosse in college and WOD-ed with Crossfit. “I do yoga now because I get to keep the body type that I’ve worked hard to achieve.”
By being the number one client of Man Flow Yoga, Pohlman becomes walking proof that you can get six-pack abs and broad shoulders by doing yoga.
Get Right On It
Like a lot of guys, Pohlman admits to being a tad impatient—and sometimes finds it difficult to remain focused on a workout that’s more than an hour. “Some [yoga classes] take upwards of 90 minutes,” he says. “Who has time for that?”
Pohlman’s classes emphasize quality over quantity—which is why he’s able to keep classes a tidy 60 minutes (at times, even less). “Workouts do not have to be long, as long as you’re being efficient,” Pohlman says. “I take out a lot of the Vinyasas involved,” he adds, preferring instead to jump straight to the poses.
“When I do some of my workouts, they take 30 minutes,” he remembers. Pohlman adds that it’s a myth that someone has to do a consistent hour of exercise. “You can break it up. I sometimes do two short sessions a day.”
Along with onsite training in Austin, Texas, Pohlman also makes use of technology by offering remote sessions via webcam. This allows him to connect with a wider range of people that location would have made prohibitive. “As long as I can see from your neck down to your feet, you are okay,” he says.
His first session with a client involves a 30-minute fitness assessment. “I test out their endurance, flexibility levels, and coordination.” He adds that because most people’s backs naturally arch, he also needs to find out where their pelvis directs toward. Once he has a picture of the client’s level, Pohlman then creates a program that is equal parts challenging and motivating. “What I offer is very different from what they are used to.”
His most memorable, “Oh, sh—” moment came when a client told him his goals. “He said to me, ‘He said I don’t want to look like you, I don’t want be able to do all the stuff you do…for me the most important thing is that I can be healthy enough to play with my grandkids.’”
This was when he realized that he is not merely teaching yoga to make people look good, he was also doing this to make people live their lives pain-free. “Yes, a lot of people get jacked when training,” Pohlman says, “but the most radical thing is that their body pains start to go away as they continue training with me.” He adds, “the things that they used to live with, [like lower back pain] slowly vanish.”
“Even bending down is not a challenge anymore. That’s also a great ‘oh sh—’ moment.”
You can reach Dean Pohlman at manflowyoga.com. He conducts classes at several locations in Austin, Texas and online. A yoga retreat in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, is planned for June 2015.