A Trainer Tells Us Her Secrets to Maintaining Her Natural Hair at the Gym

Maya Allen

It’s important to not ignore the disturbing fact that hair is one of the main reasons black women don’t work out. A study by Amy McMichael, MD, senior researcher and dermatologist at Wake Forest University’s school of Medicine, revealed that two out of five black women avoid working out with natural hair. Additionally, a 2011 study proved that 45% of black women who were polled admitted to avoiding the gym because they didn’t want to ruin their hair. This has got to stop. It’s already alarming that the CDC reports over 57% of black women who are 20 and older—compared to 37% of the general population—are obese. This ongoing issue in our community stems from the endemic belief that there’s no way to maintain natural hair while exercising. And that’s false.

Unfortunately, many black women perpetually avoid the gym due to their attachment to their hair, which contributes to a larger, societal epidemic when it comes to health in our community. Be honest—has a fresh flatiron ever stopped you from working out? We’re all guilty of it. Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to maintain your natural hair at the gym. It’s all about giving your hair the time and attention it deserves. We scouted out SoulCycle instructor Taye Johnson, who also happens to be a natural hair guru, and fellow naturalista and fitness influencer Robbie Darby, who’s also the creator of a motivational wellness movement called the RAD Experience, to share their best hair-saving gym tricks. You’re going to want to take notes on these tips and send them to a curl friend—they’re that good.

Read on for the natural hair secrets they swear by that don’t keep them from sweating it out at the gym.

In the middle of transitioning to natural hair? Read up on the best natural hair transitioning products.

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