In preparation for OurSpace’s fundraising pay-what-you-can yoga class with Jock Yoga founder, Michael DeCorte, I asked my good friend some questions about what led him to yoga, and what we can expect at his class on Saturday, April 30, 2016 at Moksha Yoga Uptown.
Michael DeCorte got sober in his 20s before sobriety was “the new sexy.” Yoga played a large part in his recovery. Always a visionary, he now runs his own business – Jock Yoga – appears regularly in the media, and follows many other creative pursuits, such as writing and photography.
His passion and drive have influenced me greatly over the years of our friendship. I’m excited for the rest of the OurSpace crew and our friends to meet him on Saturday and experience his unique style of yoga.
So how much of a mess were you back in the day?
On a scale of 1 to 10 I was about a 50. I moved to Toronto from northwestern Ontario—super insecure and scared from growing up gay in a largely homophobic town. I jumped into the club scene back when ‘clubkids’ were a thing—and I ended up using party drugs in excess, long past the point when the ‘party’ ended. Things became hardcore and very sketchy. It was not fun anymore, and I knew I had to quickly turn things around or I was headed for real trouble.
How did yoga help with your mental and physical health when you were getting sober?
When I got sober, I turned to physical fitness and began training for—and running—marathons. I also started bodybuilding. Fitness itself wasn’t enough to keep me sober, because I knew I had to change my perspective on life and the way I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. When my friend invited me to my first hot yoga class in Winter 2002, I was hooked! I realized immediately that yoga calmed my mind and helped me get in touch with my spiritual self—which was the component I needed for my perspective shift. I began a regular yoga practice alongside my workout regimen and eventually decided I wanted to teach it.
How does yoga help you now?
I don’t find as much time to practice as consistently as I used to, but I do enough still to counter my running and weightlifting tightness, and also to calm my mind enough to aid in my daily meditation practice. Interestingly, the physical practice of yoga was originally used by many as a preparation for meditation. So, I guess I’m still on the right track!
What’s with the name Jock Yoga?
When I started teaching yoga, I pitched the idea of having a power-style yoga class at a predominantly gay gym in Toronto that would appeal to the men, and boost the popularity of the facility’s waning class attendance. I decided to call it Jock Yoga—which I was a bit nervous to promote at the beginning, because it was such an intense name and seemed like an oxymoron. So Jock Yoga began as a gimmick, but the style of class is unique and the sequences are focused on strength and endurance rather than on extreme flexibility. I believe the name and style appeal to a broader demographic and invite more skeptics and people who wouldn’t normally be interested in yoga. I also try to up the ‘cool-factor’ in Jock Yoga by incorporating good music in the flow!
What can people expect from your class this Saturday?
They can expect a fun, all-levels version of my Jock Yoga class that will combine just the right amount of challenge and sweat with ease and relaxation. My intent is to create an inviting and chill environment, so everyone who joins will enjoy their practice, and hopefully want to come back again!
Michael’s fundraising pay-what-you-can yoga class for OurSpace happens this Saturday, April 30, 4pm at Moksha Yoga Uptown, 1498 Yonge Street, second floor. We are very grateful to Moksha Yoga for providing us the space for this event.
Find more information about Michael’s yoga classes at www.jockyoga.com and discover more about his personal life through his recently launched lifestyle blog, Michael Off The Mat, at www.michaeldecorte.com.
Interview by Liam McElheron & photography by Chris Blomkwist.
OurSpace Communications & Outreach Co-Coordinators.