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Hair Care 101:
Permission to be a
Black Female & Workout

by A. Joi Jones, Pharm.D.

In choosing to empower women in the first month of the year, I wanted to share information on one of the biggest hindrances in the African American Community when it comes to exercise.

QUESTION: Have you ever skipped a workout because of a fresh new hairdo? You are not alone and this IS NOT AN EXCUSE!!! This is a very real daily dilemma for women of African descent. I often look around the gym and I will be the only black female in there. Other times, it will be just a few of us. Amongst the few, you will always see some type of “savior” atop our heads, whether it’s a scarf, mesh cap, pin curls, etc. Some of the most common reasons for our absence are; we spend a ton of money at the hair salon, depending on our hairstyle one trip to the gym can totally mess up the look we are going for, and finally it’s too hard and time consuming to get presentable after leaving the gym.

Earlier last year, our United States Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin spoke on the Micheal Martin show urging black women to hit the gym and stop worrying about their hair. She was a judge in the 3rd annual United Healthcare Hair Fitness Competition hosted in Atlanta that urges stylist to create the most exercise friendly hairdos for monetary prizes. This has been an initiative of hers since taking office in 2009. She is not the only person at the Whitehouse concerned for black women and fitness efforts. I remember reading an article on Michelle Obama back when I would only workout Monday - Thursday. In the article, she talked about not being held hostage to her hair from the gym. She is always in front of people and that inspired me to be just a tad less vain with regard to my hair and allow some flexibility with the workout days. I have tried several things with hair maintenance and it has been a trial and error headache of a journey. However, I found my routine and often assist several ladies with fine tuning their own system. Below are some tips I've come across that you may already be doing and others that you may not have thought about.

Tips for Working out and Maintaining your Hair

1. Wrap your hair and use a Ridoc™ All Purpose Mesh Wrap if you have a bigger head than normal. Otherwise, a regular mesh wrap, any brand will do.

2. Pull you hair into a loose pony tail to keep the bounce and wrap it after the workout while you shower and get ready.

3. Try a roller rod curl set. The curls are really tight when you first finish at the hair salon but they can maintain any level of physical activity for up to two weeks and still look decent.

4. I use the Save Your Do Gym wrap. It has edge control technology in the wrap that stops the sweat from wetting the edges of your hair. It comes in narrow, wide, and full triangle sizes and is available for purchase online for under $30.

5. Alternatively, if you think that is too much to spend on your hair care, then FIRSTLINE Dri Sweat Edge Women's Active Wear Headband is a less expensive option. It can be found at your local Wal-Mart for less than $5 and aims to achieve the same purpose. If you have a big head, this might be a little tight. It does not have the option to tie it tailored to your head like the Save Your Do Gym wrap. It is elastic but the stretch is limited.

6. If you wear your hair with lots of curls, try pin curling your hair, it is not the most appealing cosmetically but, it will save your curls. You can also pin curl your hair, then place the mesh wrap or scarf around your pin curls. If you are really self-conscious about wearing pin curls to the gym, you can place a wig over the pin curls. When pin curling your hair, if you blow dry any parts that are mildly damp after the workout while leaving the pin curls in, then take them out and wrap your hair while showering, it should look back to normal.

7. If you are trying to lose a lot of weight and going really hard in the gym or at a boot camp, wearing braids temporarily is an excellent option. There are all kinds of braids and twists that you can choose from.

8. You could consider wearing dreadlocks. It is very easy maintenance with regard to working out.

9. You could try a sew-in weave. This is where the majority of your hair is braided down and tracks of human hair are sewn into the braids. You can be as active as you like with weave because you can apply heat to that hair as much as you like. A tip with weave is to wear a very high pony tail to keep the hair from getting sweaty on your neck during your workout.

10. Try a natural hairstyle, like a low haircut. If you are natural but wear your hair with the look of a relaxer, you stick with the other tips but you may have to get your hair done weekly as opposed to biweekly.

11. Try to budget your hair to be done professionally if you are very active. They will work with you to figure out what is best for your particular hair texture and taste.

12. Try to strategically schedule your workouts. Start your week with your weights and or abdominal workout. Really hit the heavy cardio in the middle and on the day that you get your hair done. Then take off the day after or the next two days after getting your hair done.

13. Finally, don't worry about what people think about your hair savior method. You are there to take care of your body by staying fit. It is not a fashion show. There is a time and place for everything and the gym is not prime time at the social event of the year. Unless you are working out with those who chose to make comments about Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas' hair at the 2012 Olympics, then I really don't think anyone cares. Yes, people will ask questions but, it is only because they are unfamiliar with the struggles of black women when it comes to hair maintenance. I give them a quick 20 second informative spill on our (black) hair and the response is always OH and now they understand.

I hope you found this article informative and motivational. Please be inspired to step outside the box and try a new hairdo. Alternatively, if you love your current style, use some of the tips, exert the extra effort of energy, and preserve the style by any means necessary. Your health and fitness is your priority as is your presentation. You can be successful with both!

Rx Fitness Lady which launched the latter part of December is the first Macon Middle Georgia Healthy Living Blog. It is written from a Pharmacists & Independent Fitness Professional perspective. It is a lifestyle wellness blog that shares information on weight loss, healthcare, fitness, weekly goal challenges, and entertainment. The purpose is to help motivate people through workouts, live healthy lifestyles, and most importantly, enjoy the fruits of your labor by accomplishing your goals and being the ULTIMATE YOU. You can visit & subscribe for free at www.rxfitnesslady.com for regular inspiration.


 




A. Joi Jones
A. Joi Jones
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