This Thanksgiving, among the many, many things for which I am thankful, I will include aerial GRIP AIDS.
Winter will soon be fully upon the northern hemisphere, and the question of how to stick to a cold pole has been coming up in studio conversations as well as on bulletin boards far and wide. Here’s a quick rundown on the types of grips available. I won’t go into specific brands because I haven’t used all of them, and that wouldn’t be fair.
- Chalk. Used in yoga, by rock climbers, etc. Best if you’re sweaty and need to dry out.
- Antiperspirant. Does just what it says it does — keeps you from perspiring too much.
- Moisturizer. If your skin is ashy or dry, you might need to moisturize! Counterintuitive considering how we’re all taught from day one that lotion is THE ENEMY. But sometimes you need the moisture. Dry skin is every bit as slippery as sweaty skin!
- Tack. Like adhesive for your skin. Think gecko feet.
- Super Tack. Super glue adhesive. Use only when coming off the pole would be worse than the skin you’ll lose from gluing yourself to it!
- Wearable. Anklets, gloves, thigh protectors.
Many dancers go straight to chalk or antiperspirant when they get slippery … often without stopping to consider what their skin really needs. Your Ph, your skin type, the microclimate in your room, all play significant roles in your grip on the pole. Chalk and antiperspirant are awful for me. They make me twice as slippery rather than grippy in the slightest! That’s because my skin tends to be very dry. So I need to use moisturizer, grip with some moisture to it, or tacky grip. If you are constantly sweaty, by all means go for the chalk.
When it comes to getting better grip, the easiest factor to change with consistency is often the room temperature and humidity. Air = too cold, and your pole will be slip-slip-slippery. Air = too dry, slip-slip-slippery. Air = too humid … you guessed it. So try a small heater, or a dehumidifier, or a humidifier. You might be surprised at how much grip you can get without having to coat yourself in anything!
Another thing to consider: have you warmed up properly? I am rarely as sticky at home as I am at the studio, and I hear the same from many polers. At the studio I go through a structured warmup that includes core work plus movement stretches designed to get my body ready to pole. At home I tend to jump right into whatever I want to work on, which is totally counterproductive.
Last but not least, think about the move you’re working on. Are you really ready for it? All the grip aids in the world won’t make you strong enough to hold an aysha if you’re not strong enough to hold an aysha. Don’t rely on grip aids to try to provide what isn’t there in strength!
So the next time you’re slip-sliding away, take a minute to think about what your skin is like right at that moment, what the room is like, and exactly why you’re slipping. A little detective work goes a long way toward stickier days!