Help! My gym hair has no game

Bored of straggly ponytails and tired-looking buns? Going to the gym doesn’t mean you have to give up on your hair – Layered writer and gym bunny, Beth Davie, puts three styles through their paces to see which one has what it takes to see her through from gym, to drinks, to the next day…

Ever since I suffered a slipped disc at the grand old age of 30, I’ve been going to the gym; Pilates specifically, but (as with everything) I soon found myself hitting the harder stuff and I now do body pump, spin and I’m even considering taking up boxing. But the one thing I’ve never managed to get a handle on is my hair. Morning gym class is followed by a quick shower… and my hair is left to dry and do as it pleases. Lunchtime class? Hair is pulled back using my fingers in a bun, where it then proceeds to fall out into a slightly damp ponytail in the afternoon (lovely). Evening class? Nothing, it’s game over as I drag my sweaty self back home. So you get the picture – me, my hair and the gym coexist, but don’t really get along, leaving me feeling ever so slightly self-conscious as I go from gym to a work event to drinks with friends in the evening. I decided enough was enough; something had to be done.

That something came in the form of hairstylist, Beth Patton, who works at Jones & Payne in Shoreditch. Just two minutes from the office, the salon was the perfect starting point to discuss with a professional my new-found gym hair obsession. I sat down with Beth P (as she will heretofore be called to avoid confusion) to discuss key gym hair looks that would a) last and b) work in the outside world. We settled on boxer braids, a fishtail plait and space buns. Which one sprinted past the finish line to victory? All will be revealed… 

Boxer braids

DAY 1


Full disclosure, I LOVE boxer braids. Spot an Instagram post by a friend sporting these? Consider it liked. Work colleague comes in wearing them and I’m jealous as hell. But I have no hand-eye coordination and have never been able to do these myself, so to get a hairdresser to style my hair into boxer braids is like Christmas has come early. But did I end up liking them on me as much as I liked them on everybody else? 

DAY 1


Absolutely! I smiled all the way out of the salon, despite it being only 8am and I had a gym class to attend. It took less than 20 minutes to style my hair at the salon and as it is less than a five-minute walk from my gym, I was from the chair to the studio in half an hour. First class of the week was body pump and the boxer braids breezed through the class.

DAY 1


I loved my hair being properly off my face and not once did I worry about them falling out, even as I rested the weights bar on my back and brought the braids over my shoulders. Only downside was the shower after. I’d freshly washed my hair before the salon visit so didn’t need or want to wash it, but trying to tie braids up into a ponytail wasn't the easiest thing to do. But once I was out of the shower, it was a quick change of clothes, applied make-up and I was ready for work. No brushing through tangles and no scramble for the hairdryer. It was divine! 

DAY 1 - after the gym


My boxer braids kept looking good all throughout the first day and even sleeping with them in wasn't a worry.

DAY 2


By day two, the braids looked even better as they loosened up and the look took on a more relaxed vibe...

DAY 2


Beth P had suggested I use hairspray on the second day to deal with any flyaways, but I ended up quite liking them as they added to the more laid-back style so left it exactly as it was when I woke up. Can I reiterate here how nice it is not having to worry about your hair in the morning? It is, quite simply, divine. That evening it was drinks with friends and I smiled a little gleefully as they admired my braids. I couldn't help but wonder why I’d never done this before.

DAY 3


By day three, I was tempted to leave the braids in to see just how long I could last with no washing or styling my hair...

DAY 3


The boxer braids still looked good, but I was desperate to see what they looked like after being crimped for two days so I unravelled them in the office, and oh my – I liked this look even more...

DAY 3


So. Much. Hair. A quick spritz of dry shampoo was all I needed to keep this look going all day long. I was halfway through a meeting when I realised I hadn't brushed my hair in three days. THREE DAYS. But on the way out, a colleague complimented me on my hair and I knew I got away with it (just).

 

 

 


Fishtail plait

DAY 1


I’d always wanted to try a fishtail plait, but had never been able to do one myself (lack of hand-eye coordination strikes again).

DAY 1


I arrived at the salon with freshly washed hair (you can of course have your hair washed at the salon, but for ease and speed, I always opted to wash at home and style at the salon) and Beth P set to work. She told me her salon is opening earlier on certain days to accommodate women that want to get their hair done before they go to work and it makes sense. My boxer braids lasted three days and all it took was 20 minutes and cost £20. Not a bad trade off. For the fishtail, we opted to keep it straight rather than to the side and, to keep it more secure, Beth P tied my hair up in a ponytail first. The whole look felt more modern and I headed to Pilates with a flick and a swish.

DAY 1 - after the gym


I’d never felt more like a Pilates student, but to be completely honest, a fishtail plait wasn't the easiest to deal with when you needed to lie flat on your back for a lot of the class. Also, quite a lot of hair fell out and, after the class, I wondered if I should take it all out. But my colleagues assured me it still looked good so I persevered.

DAY 2


Turns out, a fishtail plait may look pretty, but doesn't have longevity...

DAY 2


After a less than peaceful slumber worrying that the plait was all falling out, I headed to work before going to an event. From the front, the plait still worked, with tendrils of hair gently curling around my face, but I wasn't so sure about the back.

DAY 2


However, another colleague did compliment me on my hairstyle at the event so maybe I’d come to expect too much after the success of the boxer braids. But day three was wishful thinking and I took the plait out once I got home.

 

 


Space buns

DAY 1


For my third look… I wanted space buns, but with a twist.

DAY 1


I had got my hair cut before going to see Beth P for our third and final look and I was worried it would be too short to do anything with, but when I sent an image to Beth P of what I wanted to see if it was possible, I received an emphatic yes.  Just 20 minutes later and I had a new favourite hairstyle. Backpack on, I headed to the gym, feeling about 12 years old again.

DAY 1


This time, it was spin and having hair completely off the face is a winner. I actually felt cooler with no hair trailing down my back and there was nothing to spoil my shower as everything was up and out of the way. A quick fix of the fringe and a slap of tinted moisturiser later, and I was out of the gym faster than ever before.

DAY 1 - after the gym


Space buns ruled for post-gym hair that looked as good as it did when I left the salon...

DAY 2


I slept better than I thought I would with space buns in my hair and I was surprised by how good they still looked the next day...

DAY 2


Who'd have thought – space buns aren't as distracting as you'd think when trying to get some shut eye. By day two they still looked surprisingly put together. The plaits going up the back of the head are definitely recommended as I think they stopped any tendrils from coming lose – a key downfall of any top knot.

DAY 2


A quick spritz of hairspray to tame rogue flyways and I was ready to face the world. Later in the day, I walked past an M&S Food Hall; went into M&S Food Hall; spent money on random food stuff and alcohol; got asked for ID at check out! First time in a LONG time I have been asked ID to prove I’m over 18 years of age. While I might not be the average age of your regular M&S customer, I left my teenage years a while ago, so I’m blaming it on the buns. But alas, I didn't make it to day three. By the end of the day, they begin to itch and I have to give in and take them out, much to my dismay. However, I think the more stubborn among us would definitely be able to stretch space buns to three days.

 

Verdict:

I honestly loved all the looks, but if I had to pick, I’d probably choose the boxer braids, closely followed by the space buns. Not only did the boxer braids look great the longest (and I think received the most envious looks in the gym – people certainly weren’t admiring my downward dog at any rate), they looked fab when taken out. It was also great to talk to a hairdresser about my gym hair conundrum. Beth P provided varying ways to style my hair at home, but to be completely honest, it was so easy and nice to get my hair done by a professional and not worry about it for a few days that I’d recommend serious gym goers give their local salon a call pronto.

To book an appointment with Beth P or any of the other fabulous hairdressers at Jones & Payne, click HERE

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