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SQUEEEEEE OMG OMG OMG OMG the day has come! Your new home pole has arrived! Honestly, the day couldn’t get much more exciting, could it?

You shred the packaging in a furor, watch the installation video or read the manual (you did watch the installation video or read the manual, right???), put your new beloved up, and decide to have a go at your favorite tricks.

What fresh hell is this? I can do all these moves at the studio. Why is my brand-new beloved pole trying to kill me? Why doesn’t it love me back???
Here’s the thing: unless  you bought a powder coated or silicone/Chinese pole, your pole is polished metal. POLISHED METAL. Polished metal is slippery!
Your pole at the studio has had thousands of spins done on it, by thousands of hands. Those hands that have spun before you have done something very, very important for a pole: they’ve broken it in. If you were to take a high-power microscope to that studio pole, you’d see teeny tiny scuffs and scratches, the kind that come from regular use. Those help make studio poles more grippy.
Here’s what you absolutely positively should. not. do. with your brand new, probably quite expensive, pole
  • THOU SHALT NOT SAND IT — I don’t care if someone says it worked for him or her. Sanding your pole voids the warranty and can easily ruin it, even if you use the finest grade sandpaper you can find.
  • THOU SHALT NOT PAINT IT — First off, in order to get paint to stick you need to rough the surface up (see point above). Second, painting your pole voids its warranty much like sanding. Do you realy want to do that?
  • THOU SHALT NOT POWDER COAT IT — Unless you talk to the manufacturer and get specs, having your pole powder coated is probably not a great idea. Do you know how the existing surface will react with the powder coat?  And also … powder coated poles are painful unless you’re poling fully clothed. If you do it, prepare to say ouch a lot.
Now, here’s what you absolutely positively should do! 
  • THOU SHALT CHECK WTIH THE MANUFACTURER FIRST AND FOREMOST. Your pole may have been shipped with a light protective coating. They can tell you how to remove it. In fact, your installation video or manual probably has notes on this. Manufacturers don’t send videos and manuals out with their poles just for giggles! 
  • THOU SHALT WARM UP THOROUGHLY BEFORE HOME TRAINING SESSIONS. When you go to a formal class, your instructor probably leads you through a comprehensive warmup designed to hit the muscles you’ll be using the most in class that day. If you’re an advanced student, he/she may have you partially self-warm-up. The point is, you don’t pole with a cold, unprepared body in a studio class. You shouldn’t at home either!
  • THOU SHALT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CLIMATE IN YOUR ROOM. If your room is cold, take time to warm up longer or find a way to condition the air. If your room is hot and humid, you still need to warm up and prepare  your body (ahem!), but a room that is hot or humid can lead to sweaty slipping. You will want the air to be cooler and drier in this case!
  • THOU SHALT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT YOUR BODY CHEMISTRY. Not every grip works for every person’s skin type or chemistry. So think hard about the grip you’re slapping all over your pole and body. I am not prone to sweating–rather, I have dry skin. So the last thing I need is an antiperspirant like Dry Hands. No, what my dry skin needs is something with some tack. In fact, I can (shhhh, don’t tell!) moisturize before class and not have slip issues most times. 

Even after doing all the “shalts” above, you may still find that you’re simply not as grippy. This goes back to the fact that your pole does need some break-in time. My advice: don’t go straight for the death-defying tricks. Instead, do basics at first, until you can feel it getting grippier for you. Spin on it. Do lots and lots of spins while on static mode. You’ll be conditioning yourself, learning how to leverage your body for optimal momentum, and breaking in your pole. Spins FTW! 

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