As some of you ladies who follow me on Instagram know, I’m team #fitisthenewsexy. I try to go to the gym at least three times a week, not because I’m trying to lose weight, but because I want to have strong cardiovascular health and reduce my risk of developing weight-related health issues. But let’s be honest, even though we have natural hair, sometimes we won’t be as physically active as we know we should be because we don’t want to risk spoiling our perfect twistout. I’ve talked before about the best and worst protective styles for working out, and when your hair is in protective styles, I suggest taking advantage and upping your fitness game! Here are some of the best workouts for naturals while protective styling:
I’ve only done Bikram Yoga once, about four summers ago, but it was a transformative experience, even for a yoga beginner as I was at the time. If you hate cardio and weight lifting, yoga or Pilates is a great way to get exercise, build strength, and improve flexibility without even feeling like you’re working out. Bikram Yoga is a method of yoga practice in which the room is heated to about 100 degrees fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). I shouldn’t have to explain how hot that is, but just understand that you sweat – A LOT. Since you can often find Groupon deals for a month of Bikram, it’s a great workout to take up when you’ve got a protective style installed, because you can sweat profusely everyday and only have to worry about freshening up your scalp.
People that I know who swim for exercise swear by its effects. It is awesome cardio that puts no pressure on your joints, and really is a full body workout. But who wants to risk – ok, accept – water seeping through the three swim caps that you try to stuff your fro’ under? [Sidenote: someone should really invent an impenetrable supersized swim cap for naturals.] Even though you can protect your natural hair from chlorinated water by adding oils and conditioner to your hair before swimming, it is much easier to swim with braids or twisted protective styles than it is with your own hair.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
If you’ve never heard of high intensity interval training, they are short workouts (around 20 minutes each) that consist of rounds of max reps on bodyweight exercises followed by short rest periods. For example, a round might involve 20 seconds of squats, 10 seconds of rest, 20 seconds of jumping jacks, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds of pushups, and 10 seconds of rest. A full HIIT workout will be 3-6 rounds of that. Because you’re going all out for a short period of time, burning calories much more quickly than if you were to just do 100 squats and call it a day, you end up sweating A WHOLE LOT more with a HIIT workout. These are perfect to do to jumpstart your fitness journey, provide some variety to your current routine, or just push yourself a little further – and they are best done when your hair is protected.