Fat Man Yoga isn’t really yoga, isn’t only for the overweight and isn’t exclusively for men, said Ryan Karl, a kickboxer who won bronze in Greece last year.

If Fat Man Yoga isn’t any of the things in its name, what is it?

Turns out it’s an early-morning mix of cardio and stretching that Mr. Karl started doing on his own to prepare for his upcoming fights at the WKU World Championships in Austria in October of 2019.

“I needed to do more stretching and more flexibility stuff for my fat man body,” he said.

When his friends saw his car parked at the gym last winter and asked what he was up to, he invited them to join him.

As the group of men grew, so did Mr. Karl’s aspirations. But the group needed a name before they could open up to the general public. While brainstorming ideas, one of the participants suggested Fat Man Yoga.

“We all laughed. We all thought it was great… It’s for everybody, but the reason we call it Fat Man Yoga is because its a roomful of fat men,” he said. “Some of us fatties are comfortable with it. I am.”

It took a long while for him to accept the term ‘fat’ because he had been picked on for his weight when he was a child and because his weight has fluctuated so drastically that he said he’s on his seventh round of being heavier than he’d like.

“I think I’m redeeming it because a lot of people would call me fat,” he said. “I still am – like I said pudgy, fluffy – (but) I think it’s funny to say fat now. It’s still kind of mean. I still kind of get hurt by it but not really because I’m a hundred pounds lighter than I used to be.”

As comfortable as he is calling himself “pleasantly plump,” he recognizes that many gyms can be intimidating for those who are less fit.

Jay Stevens said Fat Man Yoga is fun and not scary. He and the other participants go to the class because: “we’re not in good shape and we’d like to try and change that… It’s not intimidating. It’s low intensity. It’s a great way to get started in a fitness regime… It’s very lighthearted.”

It’s $10 for a drop in or $99 for a month of unlimited morning classes. Newbies are invited to try a one-on-one lesson with Mr. Karl before joining the group to further reduce the intimidation factor and to give them the opportunity to see what the classes would be like in advance.

Fat Man Yoga runs from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Mondays to Fridays at the Columbia Valley Martial Arts Centre, which is located above the Invermere Veterinary Hospital.

For anybody who is concerned about sleeping through their alarm or having trouble getting out of bed in time, Mr. Karl also offers peppy early-morning phone calls.

Mr. Karl, who is working towards becoming a certified mixed martial arts instructor, will be fighting at the world kickboxing championships in Austria on October 15th and hopes to move up two places to bring home the gold.

His sons Jaxson, 12, and Harley, 11, will also be competing after Jaxson won two golds at a national event and Harley snagged silver and bronze.

Mr. Karl is looking to raise $6,000 in sponsorship to head to the competition with his boys.

Sponsors and anyone interested in learning more about Fat Man Yoga are welcome to reach out to Mr. Karl at [email protected].