Philadelphia 76ers guard Andre Iguodala working with Kent Katich.
As a former college basketball player still in his 20s, Kent Katich was introduced to yoga by a former teammate back in the 1980s. He was instantly intrigued.
Wanting to learn more about it, he went on a search for a yoga class that would make him comfortable and suit his desire for a good workout. Most places he visited didn't have the right vibe, but Katich kept looking and eventually entered a studio that would change his life.
"It was me and 25 women," he said with a laugh.
The yoga culture usually made classes female-exclusive in the '80s. But the class Katich entered that day was different. Modern R&B music blared out of the speakers. And by the end of the workout, Katich was exhausted.
He was just a regular guy, but he felt at right at home.
"It was an intense yoga class with 25 beautiful women, and I got a hell of a workout," Katich said. "At that point I said, 'I got it.'"
A career was born. Since that day more than 20 years ago, Katich has dedicated his life to teaching yoga, and has developed a successful business that offers yoga's benefits to a new generation.
Katich has credibility on his side, too: Since the early 1990s, he has worked with hundreds of professional athletes, and has become known as the "Yoga Guru of the NBA" for all the work he's done with basketball players, both on the road and in his Los Angeles-based studio.
He is on the payroll of the Los Angeles Clippers as a yoga coach, and works with the team throughout the year to maintain flexibility and strengthen muscles that typically don't get attention. He also works with the UCLA men's basketball team as well as a number of Major League Baseball players.
NBA All-Star Baron Davis works almost every day with Katich. While he is Katich's most frequent client, almost 25 percent of the league's players have learned yoga from Katich at some point.
Could it be that yoga, of all things, is becoming accepted in the macho world of professional sports?
"Slowly," said Clippers rookie Blake Griffin, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. "I wouldn't say completely, but a lot more guys are realizing the importance of flexibility."
Katich tailors his NBA workouts to the needs of each individual athlete, but his concept can trickle down to amateurs, as well. That's why he recently released Yogaletics, an instructional DVD that features his signature "athlete-oriented" approach to yoga.