Summer 2013 was the worst time for my hair. I was working out four times a week and finding myself busting it down on the dance floor on the weekends. The constant sweaty movements led to my relaxed hair breaking off because: 1) I wasn’t immediately washing the sweat out of my hair and 2) I wasn’t moisturizing enough. My bad habits forced me to get a pixie-cut so that I could start over. In an effort for you to not to have disappointing hair this summer, we spoke to fitness influencer Zipporah Rutledge on how she keeps her waist looking undeniably snatched while keeping her hair looking luscious and healthy.
Mayvenn Hair: On Instagram, you’re totally down to earth and relatable about your fitness journey. Tell us about yourself, brand and how you got into fitness.
Zipporah Rutledge: I fell in love with fitness once I turned 23. I created my Instagram account, NubianZFitness, to help me stay accountable, but people started to actually watch my journey along the way. My page became a source of motivation for many different people from all walks of life and I am so proud of what I have created so far.
MH: That’s awesome! In one of your YouTube videos you talk about the various diets you’ve been on. What are the fitness/health trends you love and which ones are skeptical about?
ZR: I love the traditional trend of fitness which is to change your lifestyle and understanding that weight loss isn't going to happen overnight. When I first started working out I fell for the low carb trend, fasted cardio trend, gym everyday trend, extreme dieting trend, and even considered non-invasive procedures like coolsculpting.
These quick-fix solutions will set someone up to give up because they cannot be maintained for a lifestyle. Someone can harm their body if they continue to use quick-fix trends long term which will have the opposite effect of why they started in the beginning. It's important to never forget why you started. I love the vegan trend going on right now because it is shedding so much light on animal consumption and how humans really don't need to primarily eat meat to survive.
MH: You’re totally correct, especially with the Flat-Tummy Tea and Lollipops trend becoming more controversial. How can black women maximize their fitness if they are worried about their hair or don't want to do their hair multiple times a week?
ZR: This is a hard truth for many women to accept because we all want to look good every day. The truth is, if fitness is going to be a part of your lifestyle you have to plan accordingly to your success such as wearing protective styles during workout days. I usually work out five days a week so I always have my hair in a quick protective style that can last me through a workout week. This can be a bun, wigs, braids, twists, and even create a style with extensions so that the hair is out of the way during the days I'm going to be sweating at the gym.
MH: That sounds ideal, but that might be harder for women with busy schedules. How can they better manage working out so frequently as well as their life commitments?
ZR: I blow dried my hair for the first time in two years for my birthday. I refused to work out until my birthday weekend was finished. Following the celebration, I braided my hair up so I could exercise without dealing with my straight hair. It becomes easier to plan your hair around your work out days when a routine is created. Wash day should be after your workout week is finished and if an event is coming up make sure you get whatever workout you can in before it’s time to go on hold.
MH: What is your best tip for revitalizing your hair after a workout?
ZR: Always wear a satin scarf after working out because it helps the hair not dry out or become frizzy quickly after a session. I usually give myself thirty minutes to get dressed and off to work, during this time my scarf is setting my hair again so when I'm ready to walk into my job I can remove it. All my black women know that all you need is a good 20 minutes in the satin scarf and miracles happen to the edges, this trick never fails.
MH: What are the best practices when it comes to maintaining hair care when you have fitness goals?
ZR: Being able to freshen up your style throughout the week is the key to being comfortable and feeling beautiful on the go. I personally am on a hair growth journey right now, and I'm trying to not touch my hair at all. I can say that the routine I have created forces me to do my hair every Sunday. Sunday is the beginning on my productive week where I style my hair in my most easy to manage style, which is four braids pulled into a bun, and make sure it is cleaned/moisturized. It's important to keep the hair moisturized! If an event was to come about that would make me want to change my hair I would either go quickly to a wig or style my hair to my desire.
My sister is a model who is involved with fitness also, so she constantly finds new ways to maintain her hair while working out also. The main way she maintains straight natural hair is to give the hair time to air dry after a workout, so unlike me who goes to work after the gym, she would work out in the afternoon, so she can allow her hair time to dry overnight.
MH: What are your go-to hair products?
ZR: It's so important never to use too many products in your hair because you're literally going to have them sweating down your face the next day. Less is more for me and I maintain my 4C natural hair using the Liquid, Oil, And Cream method. My go-to liquid is water in a simple spray bottle or rose water if I’m feeling fancy. I also add my favorite oil to my water slightly just to add even more moisture which is usually jojoba oil.
My go-to oil is coconut oil all day every day because it melts so easily, and it doesn't build up in my hair as the days pass on. My go-to cream is shea butter which I use to seal the moisture into my ends before finishing the protective style. Sometimes I use Eco Styling Argan Oil Gel when I'm doing a bun. usually, I follow the LOC method when preparing my hair to be styled. Less is so much more with natural hair and I save a lot of money with this method.
MH: As an influencer what are you most mindful of when you're pursuing your professional career goals?
ZR: As an influencer, I find it important to make sure that everyone with fitness goals can relate to someone on my platform. I want to be able to touch the most extreme fitness individual to the unhealthiest person who wants to go to the gym soon. At the beginning of making this platform, I was so extreme with my goals that it discouraged some people. They didn't feel like they could make it to a level I was on and I did not like that. I took a step back, and now I focus on relating to everyone. There are so many false dreams being creating by dishonest people every day and I didn’t want to add to that. Instead, I keep in mind that this isn't a bodybuilding platform but a lifestyle platform.