Let's be honest - going to the gym or getting in exercise can be a challenge (New Year's Resolutions, we're sorry!). But when you throw in caring for curly, afro or multi-textured hair then that fitness journey can become a genuine struggle!
Antidote Street sought some personal hair care - and fitness! - inspiration from a woman who dazzles us with the ease that she does both. Amy Naomi keeps her body and her hair at the peak of health, and we sat with her to find out her tips for how we can all manage to do the same.
Please tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Amy-Naomi. I live in London and I like to describe myself as your favourite Fitness Naturalista.
Could you describe your fitness journey & regimen?
My training involves a lot of strength-based exercises, explosive cardio and lots and lots of stretching. At the moment my hair care regiment involves me putting my hair in a protective style, leaving it in for about 4-6 weeks (if I can). When I take out my protective style, I generally wash, then deep condition with heat. I then have my hair out in a short-term protective style, i.e. big twists. Whilst my hair is ‘out' I ensure that I moisturise my hair daily with a water-based product. I also wash my hair once a week due to sweat building up in my hair from frequent exercise.
Have you always been interested in fitness? If not, how and why did you get into it?
Yes, I have always been someone who liked to be in the gym or liked to be moving. From the moment I was introduced to fitness I always loved the amount of control, it taught me. In life I’ve learnt you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control whether you work out tomorrow. Last year I was introduced to weight training and that completely switched the game up for me.
What’s your favourite exercise e.g. squats or planks?
My favourite exercise changes depending on my training and my goals but I think at the moment its barbell hip thrust. Not only do hip thrusts help improve your glute shape and size, but it also helps with power and it is really helping me get stronger with my squat and deadlift.
What has been the most challenging thing about development a fitness routine?
I think the most challenging thing for me regarding my fitness journey has been my change in career. I’ve recently become a personal trainer and I absolutely love my new career, I love hearing my clients are getting results. But my oh my, getting into my own training is so difficult. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a bit like your hairdresser who does your hair amazingly, but her hair looks a bit mash up from time to time.
Do you think there is a direct benefit between exercising and hair care?
No, if there is, I’m not aware of it. However, I have noticed more length retention, but I assumed that was as a result of keeping my hair in more protective styles.
Hair is often cited as the key deterrent preventing black women from exercising. How do you care for your hair when working out?
Yes, I am aware that hair is a deterrent for many black women. Please, please do not let it be. I sometimes get questions like, ‘how can I work-out out and not sweat through my head?’ And unfortunately, you can’t direct sweat, sweat is a natural process, so we’ve just go to learn to deal with it. I’m usually in the gym 6/7x a week and I train on 5 of those days. Sweat due to the amount of salt is something that dries out my hair so it's very important that I daily moisturise with a water-based product. Depending on my protective style, I would co-wash or wash my hair once a week, which is especially helpful as this is when I like to detangle my hair and do a different protective style for the following week.
As a fitness enthusiast what are your top hair care tips
As a fitness enthusiast, I would encourage you to moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.
Wash your hair more often than you would usually do to remove salt build up.
Get some hair accessories, I have quite a few hats and a sweatband for the days that I know I'm going to sweat a lot.
Optimise protective styles, you have to protect the ends of your hair whilst you're in the gym, otherwise, it just tangles when you take down the hairstyle.
Pack your hair up and out of your face. One day I made the mistake and went to the gym with a frohawk, not only did it shrink up but my hair kept getting caught on stuff whilst at the gym, which was annoying.
What advice would you give to someone who is keen to get into exercising but lacks motivation?
I think with exercise, you’ve got to find what’s right for you. Sometimes when starting a journey you have to fall in love with the process before you can fall in love with the results, so start doing something you like. If you can’t do that, then go with someone who you enjoy spending time with, or create an epic playlist. Once you’ve started always make sure your training is progressive (you get the best results that way) and make sure you're having fun too!