Many gyms are open for business in New York, but the high-octane in-person group classes they are known for are not. Virtual exercise groups, however, are sweating it out in big numbers. For example, Akin Akman, a Nike master trainer, is drawing thousands of online students with his popular Aarmy workouts, which combine high-intensity cardio, circuit weight lifting and stretching.
Before the pandemic, Mr. Akman, a former tennis player and SoulCycle instructor, taught packed classes at Aarmy’s headquarters near NoHo. Now he is there, with just a few other instructors, driving and inspiring students in an empty space, through a video camera. Recruits, as he calls them, undergo mental conditioning too, which can come in handy during this trying time. “‘How do I approach a challenge in my life?’ is what sparks my coaching instinct,” said Mr. Akman, a sometimes underwear model who has worked with the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Karlie Kloss and Maria Sharapova.
PUMPED I wake up around 7, and I’ll have a little breakfast with my sister and niece. I’ll eat three eggs, scrambled, and then a gluten-free toast and sometimes I’ll have coffee or tea. Then I leave for Aarmy, to make my playlist. It’s a mix of everything from rap to R&B to EDM. Lately I’ve been playing “Years & Years” by Border, “Wild Frontier” by the Prodigy and “Sorry” by 6 Lack. It pumps me up so I can get others pumped up.
ALONE TOGETHER I coach two Sunday practices. I’ll do a boot camp practice and a cycle practice, both in the morning, and give myself about 30 to 45 minutes in between. For me, it’s more of a visualization drill than it was before quarantine, because I’m used to coaching 60 people in a space. Now I’m all alone in the room, but I know that people are out there. So I have to pull on that energy. It’s cool to be able to tap into that and still deliver.
OFFICE HOURS I used to coach six to eight sessions a day in the studio. Now that I do two online, I have a lot more energy and the brain capacity to do other things. So I start answering questions. I talk to athletes I’ve been training for years, and I also answer DMs and emails from people who have questions on form.
EGG MAN Before I do that, though, I go pick up food. I don’t always eat eggs, but lately my lunch has also been eggs. I’ll eat about five to eight egg whites with sweet potatoes and hot sauce. I order it from my friend’s place, the Village Den.
ON THE VERGE The questions I get are like, how do I activate my glutes? How do I feel my lats when I do the rows? Or, I feel planks in my shoulders. How do I distribute my weight? Some people are frustrated because they’re not holding a run as long as they could have or not going heavier on the weights. I tell them, if you’re frustrated, you’re on the verge of a breakthrough. The obstacle is where you’ll grow.
BOLSTERING COMMUNITY Sometimes people just want to catch up. Some people are lonely, so I’ll ask other people in the Aarmy, their friends, to reach out to them. We have to keep the community in check. I also get a lot of thank you’s, because we’re giving people some normalcy in their lives, something to look forward to every day.
FAMILY When I leave Aarmy, I’ll either go home or check on my new apartment that’s under construction. At home, my sister and I will hang out on the roof with my brother, Yavuz, who lives around the block. He’s an Aarmy coach. Another coach, Sofia, will hang out with us because she’s dating my brother. They’ll have steak or chicken for dinner, and I’ll have a Beyond Burger or an Impossible Burger.
SMALL SCREEN After dinner we’ll all watch a movie or TV together. What we like is broad. We’ll watch anything. The last few Sundays we’ve been watching “Lovecraft Country” on HBO Max. I don’t know yet if I like it. It’s a little supernatural. By 10, I’m usually sleepy so I’ll say good night.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Akin Akman on Instagram at @akiniko.