Heart + Soul + Sweat: Akin Akman
We're convinced that Akin Akman is superhuman. There is nothing this man can't do, all with the energy, ease, and humility of a metaphysical warrior. Not only is Akin one of the most beautiful humans we have ever met, but he is so obviously one of the most loving. His approach to fitness and health surpass that of the many distinct trainers across NYC, creating a kind of cult following dubbed #AkinsArmy, and making him SoulCycle's most sought after instructor. He brings a blazing soul and inspiring stamina to every room, all of which had our office in full-fledged push-up mode before his departure...
Can you tell us a little about your journey on how you got to where you are now?
I was a tennis player with Bollettieri, in Bradenton, Florida. I've been coming back and forth since I was seven, training to be pro. I'd train eight hours a day, every day. Then I started playing international tournaments, and going to play in pro tournaments. I hurt my back when I was 17, so I went to college in Boca instead of keeping on going pro because I got a scholarship. Then, after my injuries, I just couldn't play for the teams. So I moved to Miami and started working at the Ralph Lauren store, because I was so hurt I couldn't do anything else. I started coaching tennis once I felt better, and doing other stuff, too. Then I got scouted to model in Florida. They sent me to Milan and Paris, and then I came to New York. I've been modeling for a long time. I was chosen as a Nadal body double for a shoot, and from that, I got all these other things. I was also teaching tennis, and started teaching at Crunch for the group fitness and spinning classes. Then SoulCycle recruited me, and I went to start working with them. Everything just kind of happened. What do you think it is about you and your class that has attracted such a following? I think that people feel how much I love doing it. I also coach everyone. I am invested in every person. If you keep coming back, you're going to see results. I'm going to be there along the way. I don't just stop once you reach one of my hardest moves in boot camp. I'll change it up, so then you have to reach something new. There's always something to work up to. And then I celebrate when you get there. I say it in class: your victories are mine. My coach, Bollettieri, is now in the hall of fame for coaching. So when I say that he was my coach, everyone is like, 'Oh then you must be amazing!' Everyone already knows the level. And that's kind of what I want from my people...when you come to me, I'm going to make you that. When you go and say that Akin trains you, they're like, 'Oh then you must be amazing!'.
What is your relationship with your body like?
My thing is, my body has been so ingrained in everything I do, so I never had to really change the things I do. I don't really eat poorly -- I don't eat any fried foods. I don't go on any diets. I eat whatever I want, but I really just want good things. I have to eat a lot throughout the day. I eat whenever I can just to keep fueling up basically. Sometimes it has to be fast so I'll just grab a smoothie or something. I don't really do protein shakes. Because I do a lot of cardio I need carbs and good fats for energy. I'll go get a sandwich with avocado or something like that. When I go lift on my own, I'll eat more protein like chicken, or steak, but I eat a lot of bread.
Can you tell us about the day in the life of Akin?
I eat the same way every day. In the morning, at 5am, I'm usually running late, so I don't really have rituals or routines, but I basically just take care of my body throughout the day. If I feel like anything is getting tight -- because I'm just very aware of everything now -- whenever I feel that anything is getting tight or anything is wrong, I just use my foam roller or a lacrosse ball and I know exactly what to do. If there's any inflammation, I take Advil and ice or heat it -- I just know everything to do for whatever is wrong. I'll also go home and take a thirty minute nap if I have time in between the day. Though usually, I want to go do more stuff. I'll go to train, or go to Barry's with my friends that teach there -- I'll take their classes. They get mad if I don't come, so I try to go even when I'm tired. Your body adapts to the things you do, and I've been used to a very high level of training since I was seven, so when I don't live like that, I actually don't like it. That's my fun.
We've talked body. Can you talk to us a little bit about how the mind comes into play?
As far as fitness goes, tennis is such a mental sport. And SoulCycle is mental, but it's about being soulful in a different way than I was initially. So in tennis -- and I say it in class too -- what separates you from others, and the people who are winning, is not just the physical. Like when I was in boarding school, training eight hours a day, everyday, everyone had the physical, everyone had the shots, we all trained the same amount. But, it's the mental part that took you to the next level basically. It's the same thing now when I'm teaching people. You just have to kind of do it and believe that you can do it. You have to say, 'I'm going to hit this shot and it's going to go in that corner in the back line and I'm going to hit a winner.' Then you do it. It's kind of like, if you think it, you manifest it, then it happens. So the way I teach is very no bullshit; you work for it and you say you can do it, and you do it. Goals? I have goals, but I don't know exactly what they're going to be like. The Akin's Army thing...those boot camps are kind of just happening on their own, and SoulCycle is amazing, and I'm starting to teach at Bandier's Studio B three days a week. I'd like to do more videos, stuff like that. So I can reach a wider range of people and become someone in the fitness world that can reach more people -- that kind of path. But also, modeling has been really good. A few months ago, my DKNY fragrance campaign came out and then I have another one coming out for DKKY, and I just did a Tommy Hilfiger one coming out in August with Gigi Hadid.
And what about your idea of legacy? What do you want to leave behind?
Like I said, my coach is a legend coach. He made himself a star, and he surpassed all these number one tennis players. The new generation knows who he is. He's trained a lot of people, and he's almost 90 years old, but he trained all these other coaches with this style that worked. And he's still out there teaching. He made this huge academy that everyone knows about, and you're proud to say you came out of it. I want to be like that, in whatever I do. That's the legacy I would like to leave behind -- to build something that stays. To be remembered.