Oh, how my butt twitches when I hear excuses why someone can’t work out. I was once the queen of excuses and it left me unhealthy and weak for many years. I think it’s that frustration that led me to fall in love with Whitney and Alex, the two gals behind Sporty Afros, a website dedicated to fitness and hair care. You may have your excuses, but hair excuses won’t be one of them after talking with these two!
Q&A With Whitney and Alex of Sporty Afros
We’d love to know more about your site! When did you two start it and why? We started Sporty Afros in 2010 while training for our first triathlon. Whenever we were in the gym, women (especially black women) would ask us what we were doing with our hair, what our training regimen was, how we were staying fit and looking cute, etc. We started a blog just to answer their questions, then realized there were limited resources women could go to find answers. So we started the site, posted tons of content and started spreading the word about Sporty Afros.
What’s your favorite post and why?
Alex: Our workout hair care solutions page is my favorite because it helps women figure out what to do with their hair before and after working out. It solves the “I can’t workout because of my hair” excuse.
Whitney: All of my recipe posts are my favorite! I used to hate to cook, but now I love finding new healthy ways to recreate some of my favorite dishes.
What’s the most rewarding part of your site? We love helping women figure out how to change their lives through fitness and nutrition.
Can you tell us more about the workshops you offer? What kinds of information can women expect to hear? We offer workshops focused on connecting the dots between hair, fitness and nutrition. We discuss a little bit about our site along with tips about how to live an active lifestyle. In the workshops, we give women practical solutions to their problems. We have helped parents who adopted kids of color and struggled with caring for the kids’ hair, as well as women who wanted to become active but didn’t know where to start. From product recommendations to healthy, affordable meals, we help remove barriers that keep women from living an active lifestyle.
What has been each of your biggest aha moment regarding getting through to women regarding the hair excuses? Because we both work in corporate America in addition to running the blog, we can really empathize with women who use hair as an excuse or feel they are simply too busy to workout or eat healthy. Instead of just making suggestions, we try out different fitness regimens, healthy recipes, hair styles, etc., to see how they fit into our busy schedules before recommending them to our readers. We think some tips out there are a bit unrealistic for busy women with kids and/or careers.
What led you each to competing in triathlons?
Alex: A triathlon was on my bucket list. For years, I watched televised Ironman competitions and felt inspired and motivated to compete as well. When I discussed the goals with my boss, an avid Ironman competitor, she decided to coach me for a sprint triathlon. Whitney joined in as well.
If someone wants to try a triathlon what steps should they take to get started? 1) Get a good training plan. We have a few on SportyAfros.com. 2) You need a support system, whether that’s a training buddy or just someone to offer encouragement. 3) Rearrange your priorities to train. Training for any endurance sport, especially a triathlon, takes a great deal of time, and you’ll have to rearrange your life a bit to fit it in.
What kinds of workouts are you two doing to prepare for the triathlons you’re doing? When we are training for a race, we focus on swimming, running and biking. During the off-season, we enjoy a variety of workouts that build our overall athleticism and flexibility like Bikram yoga, Pilates, CrossFit, weight-lifting, etc.
What was your favorite race? Scariest race? Our favorite race was Blackland Triathlon. It was on Labor Day and ended with a great band, awesome food and beer!
Alex: My scariest race was my first triathlon. I panicked in the swimming pool and started hyperventilating, but once I got going, I was fine. After I crossed the finish line, I felt awesome.
Why do you do triathalons vs. marathons or any other type of racing event? Both of us have always enjoyed playing variety of sports, so competing in triathlons made perfect sense. We think it keeps you from getting too bored. By the time your mind starts to wander, it’s time to switch activities.
What workouts do you love and which ones do you love to hate?
Alex: I love Spin class and biking outdoors. I love to hate yoga, but flexibility is super important so I force myself to do it.
Whitney: I love weightlifting because that’s when I can really see changes in my body. I love to hate running. Although, I have a natural affinity for it, it’s still one of my least favorite activities.
How do you currently wear your hair? (Do you both rock fros? Braids? Venus Williams was quick to say she’ll throw on a wig if she’s in a hurry.) It depends on the season and our training schedule. Mostly we wear our hair in curly fros, but we switch it up with braids, twists or rocking it straight. We love updos, especially the “Janelle Monae.” Any style that is quick and fuss-free is a plus. We also love wigs (we both have a decent-sized collection). They are quick and easy to throw on after a tough workout!
Can you both tell us more about your hair regimes? We have two different textures so our hair regimens are a bit different.
Whitney: By now I have my hair regimen down to a science. First, I pre-poo with Sporty Afros Ayurvedic oil for 15 to 30 minutes. Then, I wash my hair with Nothing But Clarifying shampoo. Next, I deep condition with Nothing But Intense Healing Mask. I detangle my hair while it has conditioner on it. Then, I let the conditioner sit for an hour. After I rinse it out, I moisturize my hair with Sporty Afros G+ Moisturizing Spray and Obia Naturals Curl Moisture Cream. Then, I add a bit of Obia Naturals Curling Custard and let it air dry.
Alex: Because my hair is tightly coiled, I have to focus on being gentle while manipulating my hair. First, I use Sporty Afros Ayurvedic Oil for a hot oil treatment. Then, I wash my hair with TGIN Sulfate-Free Shampoo. Next, I follow up with an intensive homemade deep conditioner and the Protein Deep Conditioning Treatment by Hydratherma Naturals. While that’s on my hair, I detangle and follow up and let it sit for a while. After I rinse my hair, apply a leave-in conditioner. Then, I use Natty Butty by All Things O’Natural to moisturize and style my coils.
How do you protect your hair while you’re working out? Protecting your hair depends on the workout, but two general principles are: 1) Make sure your hair, especially the ends, are neatly tucked away. You can cover it with a scarf as well to prevent breakage and 2) Adding moisture is key to ensure hair doesn’t dry out and break off.
How do you attend to your hair post-workout? Our best advice would be to keep it simple. Check out our workout hair care solutions page for a variety of ways to care for your hair post-workout.
What products could you not live without?
Alex: All things O’Natural Natty Butter, Sporty Afros Ayurvedic Oil and G+ Moisturizing spray, bobby pins and hair clips, Hydratherma Naturals Deep Conditioning Treatment, and the entire line from TGIN.
Whitney: Obia Naturals Curling Custard and Moisture Cream, Eco Styler Gel, Sporty Afros Ayurvedic Oil and G+ Moisturizing Spray.
What’s the biggest misconception or excuse you hear regarding women and their hair? They can’t work out because it will mess up their hair style. That’s not necessarily true. We have tons of workout hair care solutions on our website. Another thing we ask women is what’s most important to them — their health or their hair?
What’s the biggest mistake women make regarding their hair care in relation to working out? Some women allow their hair style to dictate their workout. For example, if a woman just got their hair pressed or permed, they would be less likely to participate in any workouts that would mess up their hair style. The other mistake women make is using too much heat on their hair post-workout.
So with all of those nuggets of knowledge under your belt, do you think you’re ready to drop the hair excuses and pick up a bike for your first triathlon?! —Tish