Stories from Active Recovery

I Teach 40 Workout Classes a Week, and These Are the 3 Things I Always Do to Recover

Zoe Weiner

Zoe WeinerFebruary 5, 2020

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Photo: Getty Images/ PeopleImages

Akin Akman spends 40 hours a week teaching fitness classes.

That doesn’t include his own workouts in the gym, or the classes he takes from the other teachers at his new AARMY fitness studio in New York’s Noho neighborhood (a second location also opened in Los Angeles earlier this month). Considering how much exertion he’s putting on his body on a regular basis—through spin classes, boot camps, and a whole lot of ab exercises—it’s no wonder he takes his recovery routine just as seriously as he takes his fitness regimen.

“It’s important to take a moment to assess where you’re at with your body—you don’t necessarily always have to go all out, especially when something feels tweaked,” he says of why recovery is such an integral part of what he does for himself. “Pay attention to the details. Sometimes there’s something that you need to address with recovery before you move on.” Think hip tightness as one example, which he says is key to stretch out before incorporating that muscle group in a workout.

As a lifelong athlete (before he was teaching celebs at SoulCycle, he trained as a tennis player), Akman admits that his body can recover fairly quickly from even the most intense workouts… as long as there are some serious zzzs involved. “Since I’ve adapted to this lifestyle, I can take a nap or get a good night’s sleep and I’ll be up and ready to go,” he says. Ice and physical therapy are also critical elements of his routine, and on days when his muscles need a bit more TLC, he turns to some more intense recovery tech. “Whenever I feel like something is off, that’s when I’ll go to cryotherapy or use compression boots,” he says.

No matter what, though, there are three go-to stretches that Akman always does before he leaves the gym for the day. Check out his fitness instructor stretches below, and consider adding them to your own routine… whether you’re spending 40 hours a week in the gym or, ya know, not.

1. Pigeon pose

Akman relies on one of the best-of-the-best yoga-inspired hip openers to keep his hip flexors open, which is extra important when you’re spending as much time on a spin bike as he does. To do the move properly, plant your hands on the ground in front of you and place one knee behind your wrist (on the same side of your body).  Keep your other leg straight on the ground behind you as you slide your hips back, untuck your toes, and press the top of your foot into the mat. Ideally, your front knee will be outside of your hip, your shin will be parallel to the top of the mat, and your front foot will be flexed to get a deeper stretch. If there’s space between your hips and the ground, add a blanket or block underneath your body for support.

2. Knees to side stretch

Another area Akman needs to stretch on the reg? His back. To cop his go-to move, start out by lying on your back with your arms stretched out on either side of your body. Bend your knees and let them flop down on one side of your body, turning your head in the opposite direction to get a nice, solid twist. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch directions to really wring things out completely.

3. Foam rolling

To keep his legs loose, Akman relies on a good, old-fashioned foam roller. He likes to use it on his quads and IT band, two places where tightness tends to set in after spin class. To get the most out of this type of rolling session, place your foam roller near your IT band (aka where your hip meets your leg), and bend your knee. Breathe deeply while keeping your hips pushed forward and your foot relaxed, pause, then straighten your leg back out. Be sure to move the foam roller to different parts of your quad, and focus on any areas that feel extra sore or tight for 10 reps.

In addition to stretching, Akman also grabs a snack after every single workout in order to keep his energy up. His go-to’s? Oatmeal and avocado toast.

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