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Curly Nikki

I Can’t Work Out Because of My Hair

By January 27th, 202137 Comments
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.


  • artistanista says:

    It seems everyone cares about their hair relaxed or natural. We all find ways to make it work with the type of hairstyle and workout we do. I worked in a Bikram studio and full sweating for 90 mins may be a bit much for someone who feels they don't have the skills or tools to restyle their sweat soaked hair afterward. Especially since Bikram is meant to be practiced daily if possible. I like the wet look. There are some forms of exercise that are a little easier on the sweat. "Regular" or vinyasa yoga gets you in shape for sure maybe tai chi also. We just need to be open options and variety.

  • Carla says:

    Anonymous 4:03 PM – Since your hair is so short, I dont see any issue with washing daily as long as you keep it moisturized and sealed. I have arm pit length hair so its a little harder for me to wash that often though I want to at times!

  • Anonymous says:

    I LOVE CN!! I've been looking for info on naturals who workout a lot and how they care for their hair. I exercise 5-7Xs/wk, and I sweat profusely. I drink @ least 8 glasses of water a day and follow a very healthy eating plan, daily, take my vitamins and get my rest. I'm not new to exercise, I've exercised enthusiastically for ~33 yrs, yet, I'm new to natural hair. First relaxer @ 17. That was 41 yrs ago. I currently teach spin classes, run, coach a running group, lift wts/circuit train, yoga, etc. I went natural because relaxers had left my hair very thin with some very near bald areas, and I didn't want my hair to dictate my lifestyle, (we can make a choice to be ROUND or AROUND), AND I wanated Lenght and mor Length. :).
    Diabetes, heart conditions and stroke are maladies that run in my family. Additionally, I live in a state, where, because of these illnesses, we rank in the top 5 of all states in the nation for them.

    I BCd on 01/15/11, after transitioning for 3 mths. I rocked and loved the freedom my very tiny TWA gave me. My hair is now ~2.5" in length, dense/tightly coiled AND no balding!!!

    I'm learning so much about my hair, but have yet to find the right mix for my hair that shows it curl def, has shine and doesn't feel crunchy and dry and looks like a man's head of hair, ( yes, I rock the earrings and makeup, always have). Soooooo, here's my question: How often would you recommend I cowash/shampoo my hair because I sweat profusely. Any product recommendations.

  • Anonymous says:

    Great Post and very timely.

  • Sheree says:

    i choose working out over my hair. I guess thats why my hair is always a dry mess even after using oil. the sweat does something weird to my hair… I work out 4-5 days a week. I do tons of cardio (spinning) and yoga and after 2 or 3 days my hair is jacked up to the point where i have to wash. because of the winter i just left it as is for a week before washing. its a pain but its just a modified routine. i admit its hard to keep my hair past 5 days or so if i work out as much as i do but im all about my health.

  • Anonymous says:

    I went natural (from constant pressing) because health and fitness is important to me. I was sick of being in my early 20's and overweight. I wasn't obese, but I was getting there. In addition to growing out heat damaged hair, I changed my diet, and started exercising: walking to running, tennis, jump rope, bike, and eventually weight training.

    Its been eight years since I transitioned my hair so its a little on the long side (though I've cut it over the years). I either wear my hair in a pineapple with a scarf wrapped around my edges or twists (from a twist-out). Add oils or butters around my edges and seal the bulk of my hair with a light oil before working out.

    I wash about 2 times a week and I'm done

  • Moni says:

    I work out 4 times a week for 1-2 hours, doing a mix of zumba, spinning, body flow (yoga/pilates), body pump (lifting weights), and the elliptical. I have had no problems with my 4 a/b, sl/apl hair while working out. I part it down the middle and put it into two buns, one on each side of my head (mickey mouse style). Having my scalp out helps keep my head cooler and decrease sweating.

    I wear a thick headband or sweatband around the edges, and drink plenty of water and wipe the sweat off with a towel throughout my workout. After my workout ends I keep the sweatband on until my hair is completely dry (key to preventing frizziness, etc). Other than that, I treat my hair as I would normally (moisturizing every night to every other night, bun or braids, etc.). I wear my hair in a bun or braidout throughout the week, and it looks great.

  • Anonymous says:

    I know some girls who are serious runners who went to those almost bald cuts and love it though…they look cute and have great little figures! You don't really need hair if you body is tight.

  • Anonymous says:

    Well, I'd say relaxed hair was WAY easier for working out, so I never understand people with relaxed hair (unless they have a really short do) using that excuse. Washing and conditioning and pulling it into a bun was SO simple and could be done as much as needed, even with really long hair (actually probably easiest when my hair was really long).

    Being natural meant giving up on blowouts (fine since where I live they aren't good at them and charge a ton for a mediocre job).

    What works for me, being in the gym 4-5x a week for some really intense stuff is to wear my hair in twists under a scarf, and then when I get home, I take off that scarf, add a bit more cream to the ends, and let the hair air dry a bit like that. I have really thick hair, and it's decently long at this point, but this at least gives me a nicely shaped, curly afro twist out even with the roots being damp.
    I've used this routine for a while b/c there is No way I can wash or rinse my hair more than 1x a week, and certainly not on the way to work. (I work out early, early AM).
    But you might find that twists or pin curls (which I also sometimes use) under a scarf will do the trick. I think the twists let my hair dry out a bit. But I like the result, and on the days when I take off, sometimes I miss that wilder workout day look.
    But no dryness or anything as a result of the hair, and believe me, my hair is pretty darn damp at the end of my classes.

  • LadyV69 says:

    One of the reasons I went natural was so I could work out more. I work out 3-5 times a week. I wear puffs, wear a loose ponytail (my hair is a couple of inches past SL) or twist my hair in 8 twists and slap a scarf on. Afterward, when I get home, I rinse my hair or co-wash, detangle, use a leave-in, styler, seal my hair and plait it up. It takes nowhere near as long to maintain as when I had relaxed hair. I have a lot of diabetes in my family and the main reason I work out is so that I don't end up like them. When we place a hairstyle over our overall health, our priorities are out of order and unfortunately, too many us don't have our priorities straight.

  • Anonymous says:

    I read a blog post from a gentleman, who was venting about how disguisted he was with his wife for gaining a large amount of weight, refusing to work out with him, yet spending hours getting her "hair and nails did."

    I'm not saying women should work out to please a man or anyone else. But many sisters are misguided in believing they are impressing their mates with hairstyles, outfits, etc. on overweight, out of shape bodies.

    It's a matter of priorities. And clearly, many sisters don't have their's in order.

  • Anonymous says:

    I will go bald before I stop exercising because of my darn hair!
    I can't beleive people chose their hair over their health…

  • Yam84 says:

    It's an excuse.

    There are always options; let's explore them, as opposed to dying so our hair can be beautiful!

  • KC says:

    I've seen some naturalistas in my Zumba class. The ladies with length usually twist it up. And if you sweat a lot like me, wear very light clothing and drink lots of water. I've seen some in my class with sweats on. I would DIE. Put on a cute tank and some capris or shorts and shake that thing LOL.

    You don't always have to do a full wash after working out. You can just co-wash to rinse the sweat. And with the twists in, it should be easy peasy.

  • Cocoa Fly says:

    I have worked out at the gym with PRESSED 4B hair. That's right, pressed hair. I'm not pressing my hair at the moment. But I put my hair in ponytail, tied on a bandana and hit that Stairmaster. Drink water to stay hydrated, use a towel to wipe the sweat and take care of your body. How many sistas are in coffins with their hair whipped? Yeah she had diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease. But her hair look good. #sistasneedtogetittogether

  • Anonymous says:

    So true, many black women use their hair as an excuse to not work out…what is so sad is that when the DR tells you you HAVE to lose weight because you have diabetes, high cholesterol, or just obese and it could shorten your life, will you still be worried about what your hair looks like?

    I went natural so I COULD workout more! For me it is tremendously easier to deal with my natural hair vs. relaxed hair. I sweat ALOT!! I work out 4-6 times a week (and swim 1x/week)and when I was relaxed I did not have time to wash the sweat out of my hair, blow dry and flat iron my hair…heck I sometimes did not go places after working out because my hair was a hot mess and I didn't have time to dry, fry and lay it to the side.

    Now that I am natural, all I have to do is co-wash, detangle, put in my styler and go or braid it up!! Takes no where near the time to do compared to my relaxed days.

    Like it has been posted several times on this blog, what quality of life will you have if you cannot walk without a cane or sitting in a wheel chair BUT your hair looks good? Good looking hair is not that important…it won't help your quality of life….what's important is how you take care of your body….if you are treating your body right (healthy eating and exercising) it will show on the outside and that's what is important.

  • DrChuck24 says:

    am —- Thanks for the website…I am officially hooked 🙂

    And to answer the question..I found it so hard to work out and have relaxed hair. My hair would be SO drenched because I sweat like a dog….basically lol. That caused the roots to become so curly and not straight -____-

    So going natural has been very beneficial for me and my hair. Though I still sweat It's much easier for me to maintain. I think it's important to stay healthy so I rather do that then worry so much about my hair. Yes I admit it has become tedious to try and figure out how to maintain and stuff but it's all worth it.

  • Anonymous says:

    I started worked out when I had a relaxer and using a sweatband is definitely the way to go because the band will absorb a lot more sweat then a wrap or scarf. I also would sometimes pull it back into a bun after working out instead of torching my hair with the heat of dryers and/or flat irons.

    Now as a natural I workout at least 5 or 6 days a week. For now instead of going to the gym before, during or after work I opt to work out at home using the DVD sets (Insanity, P90X, Jillian Michaels, etc.) that I have. I co-wash ususally on Wednesday and then deep condition on the weekend. And I always spritz after a workout with a mixture of water and essential oils. When I opt to workout at the gym before work I will usually spray with a spray leave in conditioner and then add a moisturizer. I also prefer wearing protective styles such as braids or lace front wigs since I am often short on time after I workout.

    Not exercising because of your hair is really a lame excuse. As the article stated there is the option of doing yoga, pilates, weight lifting, or walking which will not be as sweat extensive. You couple that with eating healthier (which is most important) you will either lose weight or maintain your current weight.

  • Anonymous says:

    It's an excuse…plain and simple. When you don't want to do something, you will find anything to blame it on. I've used it before too, but you have to decide what's more important…your hair or your health.

  • skillsgill says:

    It's funny because one of the main reasons I went natural was so I didn't have to worry about maintaining straight hair after a work-out. In fact, I was scrunching my relaxed hair curly with Frizz Ease Scrunching spray for several years because it was pointless to try to wear it straight. I mean, maintaining a natural hairstyle after a sweaty work out does take a little work, but it's nowhere as hard as maintaining straight hair nor as damaging. I don't care if I have to re-wet or co-wash my natural hair when comparing it to having to wash, blow dry, flat iron or curl. Anywho, on occasion I have skipped a work-out to maintain a press and curl, but it is NOT an acceptable regular excuse. As some above have said, I'd rather be in shape and not have perfect hair then have perfect hair and feel uncomfortable in my own skin.


  • Jeannette says:

    I find it funny when people use their 'hair' as an excuse not to work out. They should just be honest and state that they don't want to work out. They must be tryna fool themselves because they damn sure didn't fool me lol.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am transitioning, and workout at least 4-5 days a week. I pretty much keep my hair slicked back because its too short to bun right now, and I'm just figuring out my twist-out. Well, I recently invited a friend (relaxed) to bikram yoga, because she said she wanted to workout, but didn’t want to hit the gym. When she found out that you sweat A LOT in the classes, she backed out and told me “Girl, what’s the point of having a great body if your hair looks a mess?” I said not dying of heart disease. Unfortunately that wasn't convincing enough to change her mind because its been a few weeks, and I still can't get her to ANY class (much less bikram). It’s truly a sad shame that that is the mind set some of our sisters have.

  • Jeannette says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wanting to work out five to six times a week, was the main reason why I went natural in the first place. Now that my hair has some length to it, I have to twist it up before I work out or it will be a hot mess. I wore my hair straight during my transition period and Lord have mercy…my hair gets drenched after I exercise. No amount of wrapping kept my hair in good shape. I tried sew-ins and braids but they did not work for me. I have actually spent a lot of money trying to have a "protective style" but they were a no go. I also have very fine, thin hair so me braiding or twisting my hair and wearing it out in public is also a no go but alas I digress. Working out is important and I wish I could see more women of color at the gym. I think I have become anomaly at that place. I had a former co-worker tell me once that she would rather stay her size than sweat our her relaxer (mind you she just had gotten it done). I couldn't even respond to that, just walked away. I guess you have to want better to do better.

  • am says:

    Apparently sweat dries out your hair, but to counteract this moisturize. Put a leave in condish on after workout or spritz hair after. If you run has great suggestions.

  • JazBNatural says:

    thats why i always wear braids. not only is it a protective style, but you dont have to worry about them looking bad for a while, especially if you do them small. I think more women should consider it if they workout a lot. it will grow your hair to new lengths, too. low manipulation is key!

  • Anonymous says:

    YES! Totally agreed Anon. 7:47 PM. It has become WAAAAAY too culturally acceptable for women of color to be physically unhealthy. And at the rate many of us are dropping dead from obsesity-related illnesses, hair should be the last thing on our minds.

    I wanna be full-throttle fly and I'm sorry, but rocking a fly do' on a saggy, overweight body is NOT the business. So I choose fitness over maintaining perfect hair.

  • MsAkira says:

    Being overweight is a serious health issue that cause diabetes, heart disease and many other concerns to plague the black community. However, as a busy grad student who is also working full-time while juggling an internship, I can see how it can happen. One can easily become overwhelmed with the demands of life and responsibilities of family. Many women have placed personal goals such as working out and self maintenance at the bottom of their "to do" list.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am happy that others feel like I do about the "hair thing". Unfortunately, being overweight and unhealthly is okay with many of us. I walked today on my lunch break and saw a very obese women walking next to a guy in a wheelchair. The women could barely keep up with the main in a manual wheelchair – not electric and then her hair was fried, dyed and laid to the side and looking good. She waddled to put it plainly. My point is, if she sent half the time on her overall health and the other half on her hair she could have a much better quality of life.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am currently transitioning and I wear my hair straight. I also work out 3-4 times a week. To keep my hair from becoming a big poofy mess I wrap my hair and put a hat on. I keep my hair wrapped until well after my workout is over and I'm sure my head is dry. My straight style lasts me 2-3 weeks. And because of the way I just cut my hair the whole back half of my head is all natural but it still stays straight.

  • Anonymous says:

    Can anyone speak on the effect of sweat on one's tresses? I've been working out a lot more frequently lately and I sweat a LOT. But I'm a student and really busy, so I can't really co-wash or wash and re-style ( even if it's just a pony) multiple times during the week. Try to wash/co-wash once a week, but just wondering if allowing the sweat to stay in there is doing any damage.

  • Anonymous says:

    I can understand women who want to keep their hair looking nice, but it is not that serious. Exercise is good for the body and one's emotional well-being! It is certainly more important than having perfect hair. I will not let myself get out of shape because I'm too afraid that my hair will look like a hot mess. I work out six to seven days a week and I refuse to let my hair interfere with my health. For those who are serious about working out, keep your hair in a very simple hairstyle, so your hair will not interfere with your workouts.

  • Anonymous says:

    Health is definitely more important but I have noticed that while I've stepped up my workout regimen, my hair has suffered from all the sweating. True, I probably need to just find a "workout friendly style" to avoid the tangles and matted look, but it is an issue – if only a small one.

  • Anonymous says:

    Amen, Anon @ 7:47!!!!! We also complain about putting mineral oil and other synthetic products ON our hair, but we allow ourselves to put high fructose corn syrup everyday IN our bodies. My hope for us to find a balance for both. Overall health is what is important!

  • Anonymous says:

    80% of African American women are overweight or obese. Cultural acceptance of obesity is partly to blame. Far too many of us, and our men, are willing to accept extra pounds. Yet, we won't accept a hair out of place.

  • Anonymous says:

    I do not understand this "I don't want to mess up my hair" thing. What's more important, your hair or your health?? I don't work out as much as I used to– I was hardcore and spent 2 hours a day, six days a week at the gym. Eventually burned out after three years of that and have scaled it back to three times a week, plus swimming whenever I feel like it. But when I was going ALL the time, I was fully relaxed. Slap that stuf in a ponytail and call it a day. Sometimes if I'd just gotten my hair done, I'd skip that day, but that was it. Now that I'm transitioning, I work out first thing in the morning and leave my hair the way I slept in it. So if it was braided for a braid-out, it stays in those same braids til after my workout. I still wash my hair once a week, though in the summer I may co-wash half way through the week. It's really not that difficult. I've found that only people who are not serious about getting in shape use hair as an excuse.

  • Anonymous says:

    Health is so important. Moreso than a hairstyle.
    There are ways for women of all hairtypes to get around the styling issue, if they are committed to their health.
    The rates of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes are so high. Too high not to be SWEATING IN A WORKOUT at least 4 times a week.

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