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Kickers Q&A: Akira Fitzgerald talks Yoga

By Nathan Heintschel, 05/28/20, 1:45PM EDT


Fitzgerald leads the Kickers in weekly Yoga sessions

When and how did you get into Yoga?

- My close friend Sam Breschi introduced it to me back around 2010 when he was being certified as a teacher, and I was looking into ways to take care of my body as I started out as a professional.

Which pose took you the longest to master?

- I don’t know if I’ve mastered any pose yet. The more I practice the deeper my practice gets and I am able to move into more and more complex variations of a pose so it’s always evolving.

How does Yoga help you as a professional athlete/goalkeeper?

- There are the obvious physical benefits of becoming stronger, increased flexibility, and greater awareness of the body. But it’s helped me in other areas of my life which has been really amazing.

What do you emphasize with your teammates when you're leading a team Yoga session?

- A big focus has been on their breath. Connecting your breath to your movements has so many incredible benefits but it’s not something we often consciously control.

What's it like teaching a Yoga session over Zoom versus being in the same room with everyone?

- When you’re in the same room as everyone it’s easier to make verbal cues to help people make adjustments as well as bring a certain type of energy into the class. Also during the Zoom call, I’m doing the practice as well as calling the poses instead of just focusing on teaching the students in the class.
Who are the best Yogis on the team, or who would fans be surprised to hear is sneaky good at Yoga?

- I got a chance to work with Scott [Thomsen], Greg [Boehme], Ivan [Magalhães], Amass [Amankona], Mutaya [Mwape] and Charles [Boateng] in the offseason in person on a regular basis and all of them made some great improvements in their practices. But I think Scott is one of the best I’ve had a chance to work with so far!

Which style of Yoga is your favorite?

- It often depends on the mood I’m in. Whether I want an upbeat/power type of class for a big physical workout or a slow recovery type of class affects which is my favorite in that moment. But I usually tend to do slower recovery-based practices that focus on flexibility and realignment.

How often do you do Yoga during the week?
- It can fluctuate week to week but I often try to get in at least one to two classes a week. Between 30 minutes to 90 minutes depending on my workload from the team.

Do you switch up your Yoga sessions for in-season versus the offseason?
- I definitely switch up the session depending on in-season versus offseason. In the offseason, I really like to do power-based classes that focus on strength and stamina like Baptiste Power yoga which I did a lot of this past offseason. In season, I do a lot more recovery type classes with much slower flows and I really enjoy Yin yoga classes.

What would be some tips for Kickers fans interested in Yoga that have never tried it before?

- I think YouTube has some really great classes and teachers on it which can be an easy way to see if you enjoy the practice. Exploring your local studios and trying different ones out so you get a chance to practice different styles with different teachers is another option. Also, you can contact me and I’ll be happy to guide you through a class!