Interval Training: Fast and Hair-Friendly


Is it possible to have the best of everything? Interval training workouts can last as little as 20 minutes, perfect for time-strapped people. You work very hard, doing multi-muscle exercises (often with weights), alternating cardio with strength training. Because the workout is short, it’s easy to stay motivated. You’ll work up a sweat (if you don’t, you’re doing something wrong!), but your hair won’t be exposed to sweaty scalp for very long, so hair recovers easily. As a bonus, research has demonstrated that short, intense cardio and strength-training interval workouts whip your body into shape for power, toned muscles and cardiovascular fitness as well as longer workouts and better than less-intense workouts.

What do you think? Have you tried interval training?

I Can't Work Out Because of My Hair

Charnika Jett of NaturallyCurly writes;

“I think that’s a myth,” Danielle Andrews said when asked what she thought of women who pass on working out because of their hairstyle.

“I used to be a kick-boxing instructor and I would see many women wearing their hair in all sort of styles. I figured if you were serious about getting in shape, then hair would be the last thing on your mind,” Andrews said.

With a short cropped head of curls, Andrews, who works out five times a week, has a low-maintenance routine to keep her hair in check after enduring intense workouts. But other women with longer tresses find it difficult to manage their curls during sweat-drenching workouts.

“I hate to say it, but [my hair] is one of the main reasons I don’t work out,” says Sheryl Gifford. “I know that sounds horrible, but I don’t have the time to work out and then spend hours doing my hair every other day; that won’t work for me.”

Gifford, whose 3c curls fall a few inches past her shoulders, has the same problem as many other women. Whether relaxed, transitioning or natural, some women avoid the gym like the plague for fear that one drop of sweat will ruin the ‘do that they’ve tried hard to create.

Great Workout Styles...What's Yours?

Ms. Sassy writes:

So, I started my P90x Challenge today. What the blipblopblue am I thinking?! Four things-- (1) I'm well over my comfort zone weight and now I have to do something about it, (2) clothes don't fit anymore and I'm one of those women who are in denial and I refuse to go out and buy more, (3) I need to be healthier, and (4) TIME FOR A CHANGE!

As I embark on this get fit in 90 days journey, I was thinking of styles that will compliment my regimen. This is an intense kick bootay routine and I will be doing a lot of sweating. My staple twist-out is probably not the best choice as longevity is not its strong suit. I'm thinking protective styling... I have a few ideas but I'm always looking for more.

Click here to learn more about P90x if you're interested. I'd love to share this journey with others!

So, what's your get fit style?

Is Sweat Damaging My Natural Hair?

BarbaraNaturallySpeaking submitted a question she received from a reader, along with her detailed response. Check it out!
Question submitted via email:

I have been natural for two years now, but still learning how to work with my hair. For the most part, I wore my hair in braids during my transition period and only wore my hair out long enough for it to breathe before putting braids back in. I work out at the gym in the morning and have heard sites mention that you should wash you hair after each workout because sweat will damage your hair. Is this true?

I do lots of braid outs on dry hair and I'm about to style my hair in mini twists for the fall to protect my hair and retain length. With that being said, I will not wash my hair everyday and need advice on how to keep my hair healthy. Help!!!

Response from barbaranaturallyspeaking:

Congratulations on a successful transition and induction into the natural hair community.

Working out does typically cause sweating and yes sweat can be damaging to your hair. Sweat is the bodies way of naturally cooling you down and it's the bodies way to eliminate toxins. Sweat is also drying to the hair. There are some ways to absorb sweat, especially if you sweat a lot in your head area. You can wear a cotton headband to absorb some of the sweat around the hairline. If your hair is long enough to bun, it's a good idea to pull it back and away from your face to keep you cooler. You can do a conditioner rinse to remove sweat from your hair after working out. In the summer, I typically conditioner rinse if I'm wearing a puff. Like you, I wore cornrows during my transition. When I worked out I would fill a spray bottle and add shampoo (I'm currently a supporter of sulfate free shampoos when I do choose to use shampoo on occasion), and water to thin it out. I would then spray my hair with this mixture and let the shower run over my hair. Now that I'm all natural I would try adding conditioner to a spray bottle, misting the hair, paying attention to the scalp and then doing a water rinse. I would then spray on some conditioner, water, and oil mixture ( which you could mix in a spray bottle) and spray on as a leave in conditioner, or use your leave in conditioner of choice. I think this strategy would work on your mini-twists. If a few of your twists become untwisted you could probably retwist the few that may come aloose. I would then take a t-shirt and squeeze the water out by squeezing the t-shirt down the length of the twists in a downward motion. Another alternative would be to sit under a hooded dryer after applying a leave-in conditioner. The third alternative would be to take a hand-held dryer with a diffuser attachment with you , so that you could gently dry after working out. This question prompted me to plan a new experiment. My daughter starts her swimming classes again next week and immediately after she will be attending music class. I twisted her hair tonight.

Medium sized twists on my daughter's hair while wet
The shrinkage is amazing on wet hair!

If time permits I plan to conditioner rinse her twists and use a t-shirt to pull most of the drippies out of her twists. Since it's getting cooler, I may also take the hand held dryer to make sure that her scalp is dry before going out. Hopefully I will try this within the next 1-2 weeks. I will post the results. The good thing is that restyling natural hair after a workout is easier with natural hair than it is with relaxed hair. Now sweat equals rinsing and conditioning. I surely don't miss blow-drying hair straight and then curling after washing. Hooray for easier management of hair after a workout, for the girls with curls!!!!

Check out my website at for updates on hairstyles, healthy meal ideas, and info. about my exercise routine. I also have photos of how to create hairstyles for adults and children with photos of myself, my daughter, and guests with step by step instructions for maintenance. I look forward to meeting you there!

What's Your Exercise Regimen?

What's your exercise and corresponding hair regimen?

CN writes:

During my pregnancy (from the 2nd trimester till the last few weeks) I walked 2-3 miles, 7 days a week. Although I have a treadmill, I walked many of those days outside. It kept the swelling at bay, my back feeling great and my weight gain under control.

Whenever I finally drop this baby, I plan to continue to walk most days. Yes, I'm still pregnant, LOL. But after my appointment and 'stretch and sweep' this morning, things are stirring...
Along with the walking, I'll be adding a bit of toning and weight lifting- -crunches on my Yoga Ball, and 5lb free weights to tone my arms.

As for my hair, I bun it most days (high messy, or low side), but my Twist-n-Curls fair pretty well despite my workouts. I just make sure to pull it up high or down low with a scrunchy prior to the workout. When I take it down, it looks great!

Exercise and Natural Hair: A Match Made in Heaven

Maria of To Be A Naturlista writes:

I’m willing to bet the number one concern, or at least in the the top three, among the online black hair community is hair growth and retaining that length once gained. There are countless threads, blogs, vlogs and groups challenges dedicated to getting hair as long as possible. Women have admitted to swallowing vitamins, hormones, using hair growth oils, lotions, magic potions and shampoos made for horses all in the name of growing their hair. While certain vitamins do aid in the growth of hair, the point many miss is that vitamins serve as a supplement for what is lacking in one’s diet. In other words, poor nutrition and diet can affect the growth of our hair and while vitamins can step in temporarily, a more permanent fix is alteration to our diets that will result not only in healthier hair, but healthier people.

Just like a positive, permanent change in diet can result in a healthier body overall, exercise not only benefits our our shape but the growth of our hair as well. Regular cardio can mitigate conditions caused by hormone imbalance. Additionally it can lower and or eliminate one’s chances for diabetes. Hair loss is a symptom of diabetes. But be careful about what type of exercise you choose. All too often, when visiting my gym, I watch newbies, who are visually in need of exercise, go straight to the Nautlius room and proceed to concentrate on assisted weight lifting with all their might as a means to avoid running and other cardio. But consistent heavy weight lifting has been found to be a culprit of hair loss.

Additional forms of exercise noted for having a direct effect on promoting hair growth includes yoga. Yoga poses such as the downward dog and head stands allow blood to flow to the scalp. Hair follicles require a constant optimal blood flow to get nutrients and oxygens that stimulate hair growth. So even if you are sallowing tons of vitamins twice a day, if you have something restricting your blood flow such as high cholesterol, those pills may not even matter.

A 2008 study conducted by Columbia University found 31% of African American women sampled said they avoided exercise because it would interfere with their hair styles. While all the women acknowledged exercise is important, less than 25% actually met the CDC’s requirement for recommended exercise rates. It should then serve as no surprise that the American Obesity Association reports ”by race/ethnicity and sex the obesity prevalence was highest for non-Hispanic black women (39.0%) followed by non-Hispanic black men (32.1%).” Taking this into account, we need, more than anyone else in this country, to take a serious re-evalutation of what we are putting in our mouths and how we respect our body.

What does that mean for naturals? Because our hair choice thrives off of moisture, our hair is no excuse for not exercising. The benefits of exercise overwhelmingly out weigh any cons an extra wash session or two per week may offer: exercise along with a healthy diet promotes weight loss, prevents heart disease and diabetes, make us feel better both physically and mentally plus, it helps our hair grow!


F.A.Q.- Exercise Hair

The FAQ below was originally posted in March of this year. I thought I'd bring it out of hiding with Fall approaching--changing seasons always bring about new found motivation, right?!

Anyway, since posting this in March, and reading your comments in July, I've implemented a new workout routine and eating regimen. I'm not trying to lose weight, so I do moderate cardio 3 days a week (Wed., Fri., Sun. on the treadmill), and light toning (free weights and ball) nearly every day. This routine works out for my beauty (hair!) rituals too in that I do my hair on Sunday afternoons, and the set looks great through Wednesday, when I pull it up and start hitting the treadmill.

A sneak peak into my diet would reveal:


  • Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain Rolled Whole Grain Oats (I love the texture of this oatmeal!) flavored with Organic Apple Butter
  • Fruit (usually a banana, or kiwi...lately Pomegranate arils!)
  • Almond Breeze (unsweetened)Almond milk with a bowl of high fiber cereal and fruit
  • Chicken breast sandwich, or (boneless, skinless) chicken thigh salad, or cold cut sandwich, or chicken stuffed pita, or Healthy Choice soup, or leftovers from the night before
  • Baked Lays or pretzels
  • Lean meat prepared on the Foreman (salmon, chicken, beef, hell even pork, LOL, I love meat!
  • Frozen veggies and brown rice
The above dinner only happens once or twice a week. I usually end up eating out at a Sushi or Indian spot. I also do frozen meals from time to time. My favorite at the moment--Ethnic Gourmet's Chicken Tikka Masala. If you're a connoisseur of Indian food, you must try this dish! I've been eyeing it for a while, and decided to buy it a few days ago. It smelled delicious while it cooked but all (bland) frozen meals do. EVERYTHING about it was perfect--the sauce, white meat chicken, and rice. There are no additives or artificial ingredients, and it is minimally processed. Yesterday, I went to my fav Indian restaurant and bought naan, and samosas to go with it!

I eat several of the following in between meals: fruit, pumpkin seeds, Craisins, Stretch Island Fruit (the best fruit snack at the store--no additives, sugar comes from real fruit!), organic jerky, Kashi bfast bars, dark chocolate squares, ginger snaps, yogurt, hummus and pita or fresh veggies. And on occasion, I'll have a half cup of cookies and cream ice cream!!

Lots of water, herbal teas, and green tea.

I do my best to stick to the above menu items. I fall off the wagon at least once a week and stop at Wendy's...sometimes Bojangles too...hey, it's a work in progress and definitely better than where I was last March!

Please list your favorite healthy meal ideas and exercise routines. We've gotta keep our bodies looking as tight as our hair! Your comment may inspire the next curly :)



I've looked around your site pretty extensively but I haven't seen any articles discussing exercise and natural hair. I work 3 jobs, go to school, and hit the gym 5 days a week. I have to get in that gym visit whenever I can and of course it messes up any hair-do I may have been wearing or any hair-do that I may have been anticipating. Do you or any of your followers have information that might make this whole thing easier? Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thank you,

I'm the last person you'd find at the gym. To be honest, I hate to sweat. I know that sounds crazy...and it is :-) But its very true! To combat my unwillingness to workout, I do my best to eat healthy (I'm doing really good with this), and walk when I can (I park my car far away from entrances to grocery stores and malls).

I impulsively bought a treadmill last year and used it for several months. I'd walk (not jog or run, lol) 3 miles, 5 days a week. To prevent sweating out a style, I'd wear my hair in a high bun, and let it loose on the weekends. This worked out well, and grew my hair out quite a bit! But of course, that got old, and now my treadmill sits folded up in the corner of my bedroom collecting dust. The 5 day bun routine proved convenient, and if I got too sweaty, I'd take the bun down, water rinse, and throw it back up there :)

I'm opening this question up to the comments of others. Help her out!

While We're on the Subject...

of healthy insides and outsides, let's post healthy lunch ideas for curlies on the go. This is an incredibly selfish post, because I'm the one that needs help!!! I'm revamping (for the umpteenth time) my diet for several reasons--

1. I have high cholesterol! The doc didn't tell me that I needed to fast prior to him drawing my blood, so my results may be a bit tainted. But whatever the case, my cholesterol is like 70 points over what it should be! Ummm....heart attacks are not sexy. I need to get this in check.

2. I hate to exercise, so I need to maintain my shape by making healthy food choices. I loved the book French Women Don't Get Fat. I've read it three times and will probably read it again soon. The basic tenants are-- eat reasonable proportions, make wise decisions (pick a glass of wine, or a few squares of dark chocolate, but not both!), and walk for your health. They don't buy into the 'sweat your butt off at the gym' mentality, which is perfect, because I hate sweating, and I hate the gym, lol.

3. The once thin and petite women in my fam have weight control issues after bearing children. I'd like to learn healthy eating habits before starting my family so that I can concentrate on things more important than restoring my figure. Plus, I'll be better equipped to teach my children how to eat right.

I do pretty well for months at a time--oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, yogurt for a snack, salads for lunch, and lean meat, veggies, and brown rice for dinner. But after about 3 weeks of this, I begin to crave fried, cheesy, greasy things (cakes, cookies, and pies, if you will) and not only fall off the wagon, but get run over by it! I'm presently off the wagon...having just ate left over Chinese food for breakfast, and pizza for dinner last night.

I hope to start the following menu on Monday:

Breakfast (one of the following)
-oatmeal, fruit
-whole grain English muffin/egg/ham sandwich

Snack (1 or 2 of the following)
-Yogurt, almonds, fruit


-hummus and carrot sticks

-lean meat, mix green salad, brown rice, sweet potato
-stir fry (homemade)

Did I mention that I'm not a huge fan of the kitchen? Also, at lunchtime, I'm usually in my car, and need something that is totally portable. I'd like to expand my repertoire so I don't become bored. I'm addicted to all things fried and/or dipped in cheese, and will need to make an allowance for that at least once a week ;) Ideas?!

Thanks chicas!

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm......

I received this email from a reader yesterday. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


Check out this "story" that was shown on FOX News about black women and their hair. According to the article, 4 out of 5 black women are overweight and guess what these folks claim is the reason...OUR HAIR! I am in no way trying to start a riot, but if there was ever a question about why black women are afraid to embrace their true bodies/hair/selves this is WHY! Would it be possible to post this so that we may have a discussion?


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