Have I mentioned that our co-founder Michelle came out with a book?
I'm not in it, but you should buy it anyway. In addition to awesome interviews, curly insights, and hair-healthy recipes you'll also get your hands on a hard muscled hard photocopy of Mr. Warner King Washington II, fitness expert, coily royalty, and my future uncle once I set him up with Auntie J.
Speaking it into existence...
But Warner didn't answer my emails just to be shamelessly thirsted over by proxy, he's got some great tips for us regarding, hair, health, and happiness; and it was my absolute pleasure to get a mini-consultation from him in interview form.
Here's what he had to say!
Okay, so you're a trainer. Do we really need to be that concerned about sweat and afro-textured hair mingling on a regular basis?
King: Concerned in the fact that it's important to know your hair and skin behaviors and sensitivities. I was lost regarding hair care until I met Anthony Dickey and his team at Hair Rules in NYC. I used to apply all sorts of products to my hair, wondering why my scalp was dry. I would feel embarrassed, alone or otherwise, when I would get up from a flat bench and see flakes on the head-rest.
I was using well known commercial dandruff products that were supposed to prevent flakes on my head and shoulders. I would use the gym's shampoo and conditioner after every workout, which typically meant once a day, unknowingly performing a serious disservice to my scalp—damaging my skin with alcohol-based chemical washes.
It wasn't until a friend insisted I visit Dickey that I found my way. Learning that I shouldn't use products for "all hair types" without carefully reading the labels because usually the manufacturer wasn't particularly focused on my skin and hair texture.
Follow up to that, how do you take care of yours? Any products you'd like to shout out?
King: Dickey and crew began my hair care education the moment I walked in and my hair has only gotten healthier and longer ever since. I swear by Hair Rules products, the Cleansing Cream Moisturizing No Suds Shampoo, Quench Ultra Rich Conditioner, Nourishment Leave-In Conditioner are heavily rotated. When I'm styling for a specific occasion, I use Hair Rules Blow It All Out or Kinky Curly Cream. Days in-between I co-wash with Aussie Moist which is readily available at most hair care and big chain pharmacies and is a relatively inexpensive alternative suggested by the Hair Rules crew. As directed, I avoid any shampoo that produces suds and I only shampoo a few times a week max, while conditioning and rinsing daily.
My biggest concern in the gym hasn't usually been my hairSTYLE, but my hair SIZE. Any advice in particular for those of us that still want to train with longer or more voluminous braids without getting horribly ensnared in the adductor machine?
King: First, you'll do yourself and your muscles near your ischium a favor by getting off the adductor machine and doing squats, lunges, etc. and varying your planes of motion.
...well dang, okay then.
King: I typically pull my fro back or have it braided for protection when working out. I've seen men and women with impressive dreads, fros, etc of various lengths do everything from the same as me to investing in specialized caps, hair ties, etc.
Good to know! Since our interview, I have yet to go to Krav Maga or pole classes with giant crochet braids, but knowing there's less to worry about is great!
How has your relationship with your body been over your life? Does self-love come after physical goals or before?
King: I was formerly obese. Close to 300lbs and 40% body fat. I exercised and lowered my weight to 150lbs then started bodybuilding which led to me resting around 185lbs ~8% while I modeled. Going from one extreme to the other, and how society responded to a leaner me afterward, has definitely warped my body image and I'm constantly critiquing myself. Especially as I mature, I battle indifference, complacency, and a shift in priorities. Or maybe elevated confidence in myself nullifies overcompensating. I know I presently love myself more than I did years ago. I'd be a great case study for someone. :)
How about with your hair? Did you ever go close-cropped? If so, what made you decide to grow the 'fro (which is awesome, by the way)?
King: My family built itself from less desirable beginnings. Triumph and success are coveted. I recall government cheese in thin cardboard containers and cereal with hydrated powdered milk to attending a private college preparatory boarding school. Along my family's socio-economic progression, I had many phases of self-exploration. At times losing myself, if I'm honest. I was expected to be "clean-cut" in order to contend with preconceived perceptions. I needed any and every advantage to succeed. Plus I had the dry skin problem. When I came to New York I wanted to set my own rules and show my hairstyle does not diminish my aptitude. My non-conformed hair does not make me uncouth. I wanted to challenge the status quo.
I don't know much about the demographics of the kinesiology industry, but afro-textured hair has wrongly been made a stumbling block in many professional spheres. Have your coils ever been someone else's problem in your line of work?
King: Yes. It has. I carry on because the precedent needs to be set. One can be excellent and have a "natural hairstyle".
I wanted to challenge the status quo.
The yo-yo of interest in training and exercise, in general, is pretty infamous. New Year's has come and gone, and it may be another year that people slip off the treadmill again...metaphorically. Hopefully. In your experience, what makes people relapse most?
King: Not setting realistic expectations and falsely believing behavior can be permanently changed with the passing of a second.
How do you counter that in your personal life?
King: I set goals as needed. I constantly critique myself. I seek knowledge and feedback. I create or join a community that supports my interests.
I especially like that last part!
Supplements, shakes, and the like have been a personal interest of mine for a while. Do you augment your diet with any in particular? Or do you feel they're more of an inferior substitute for food-based nutrition?
King: I focus on providing my body with the nourishment it needs from a diet that consists of food of various colors and textures. I leave supplements alone. I tried keeping up with the supplement industry. The more I learn about nutrition and how the body works, the less I'm interested in supplements.
How has clean eating and exercise affected your hair? Pattern change? Growth? Or have you not noticed anything at all? Have any of your curly clients told you they'd seen a change?
King: I am confident my hair is growing long and strong because of my dietary and hair care habits. I focus on behavior and avoid referring to food as bad, good, clean, dirty, etc. There's a time and place for almost everything. Portions and moderation are important. I receive compliments on my hair regularly. It's awesome.
Wonder if I gained any inches during the No Sugar Challenge...
Personally, I hate push-ups, but I love swimming. Is there any particular exercise you dislike? What do you substitute it with if so?
King: Our bodies are interesting. They adapt to the stressors that act on them. If you want to build upper body strength stick with pushups. If you want to improve muscular and cardiorespiratory endurance, swimming is great. If your goal is the former, the latter will not ellicit the necessary adaptive response. I value the results of exercise which motivates me to perform the actions necessary. I don't have any exercises I dislike. I'll rarely pass on an opportunity to deadlift, however.
I guess I DO want to be able to move more of my own furniture.
Lastly, do you have any playlists or favorite artists to help you pump up or cool down? Enquiring listeners want to know!
King: I have an eclectic playlist that jumps from BONE Thugs-N-Harmony, Florence and The Machine, French Montana, RiRi, to Death Cab for Cutie and Jimmy Eat World to name a few.
Sounds like a great mix!
So curlies, are you planning to take Warner's advice?
Let us know about your fitness routines in the comments!
Meanwhile, you can follow Warner's further exploits in exercise at his Instagram, and on Twitter. Bonus, to get a glimpse of his creative side, you can check out his art account! Don't forget, there's even more curly goodness in the book itself so be sure to pick up a copy of The Curl Revolution if you haven't already!
All photographs by Karston Tannis.