Anyone in the pole/aerial community has been there. You join a class expecting to kick a** and learn amazing new things, but your grip fails & you spend the class frustrated & repeatedly sliding to the floor.
OR, you are in class and it’s going GREAT. . . until your instructor throws in that banana split and your feet just say “NOPE.”
OR, you are all excited for a showcase that you have spent MONTHS preparing for and you get to the day of the event and your stage name should be something closer to “Slippery Susan” than “Sexy Sage.”
Any way it goes down, it’s infuriating and trying to find the right pole potion to cure your lack of grip doesn’t always help the situation.
Let’s talk about grip aids; what they are used for, what’s in them, how they work, and how to find the best one for you.
What grip aids are used for:
To keep it super simple, grip aids help us get a better grip on our chosen apparatus. They supplement our grip strength and ensure we can safely keep our bodies attached to our pole, silks, or lyra.
What is in most grip aids?:
There are MANY types of grip aids, but the most common ingredients are: bees wax, antiperspirants, magnesium carbonate, and colophonium resin.
How do grip aids work?
To keep it simple, different grip aids have different mechanisms of action and therefore perform differently depending on people’s skin type, the humidity levels, the type of apparatus, and the body parts (or clothing locations) where the grip aid is used. Some ingredients are designed to dry excess sweat (magnesium carbonate), while others are designed to prevent sweating altogether (antiperspirants). Some are designed to keep your skin grippy & moist (beeswax), while others are there to make you sticky & dry (resin).
How to find the best grip aid for you?
We get this question a lot “which grip aid is best.” This is a VERY loaded question. Most students assume that the grip aid their teacher or pole idol uses is the best and they can be very frustrated when they use the same grip & don’t get good results. The trick is to find the grip aid that works best for YOU as an individual.
Here are some guidelines that may help:
- If you’re sweaty, start with a grip aid with an antiperspirant & magnesium carbonate chalk that will help dry up the excess moisture.
- If you have dry skin or are in a really dry environment, try something with a beeswax or colophonium resin base to help you stick.
- Training silks or in clothes? Try a spray tack that applies to clothing more easily.
- If you usually have good grip, but have extra sweaty knee pits or feet, try an antiperspirant or an antiperspirant mixed with resin that can be used on just those areas.
For me (someone with dry skin, but that trains in an extremely humid environment), I prefer iTac2 on my body & a little bit of spider chalk (magnesium carbonate chalk with resin) for places like my feet (that get a little sweaty after a few hours of training.). I also prefer straight up rock resin for silks, but will use the spray if I make a mistake & wear slippery clothing.
Now let’s hear what Susan and our friend Taylor have to say about what grip aids they use.
I’m fairly new to pole and focus mostly on static tricks so grip aid comes in super handy. I also live in South Carolina where it is hot and muggy which means humidity plays a big role in how well my pole classes go. I have found a couple of different products that really help me depending on what I am facing. For most of my tricks, if the humidity is cooperating, I use the iTac2 regular strength grip. It’s beeswax based and it combines to make me super sticky without being gooey. 6/10 times this is all I need and I put it everywhere: knee pits, elbow pits, inner thigh, calves you name it and I am slathered in it. For some tricks like a banana or something super scary (to me) like a high up cupid I spray myself down with spray tack. Spray it on and then slap your skin a few times to engage the tacky and you are good to go. It doesn’t hold up as well as the iTac2 so I usually have to reapply after each trick attempt. If I plan to end a training session with some dance moves and I need my damp sweaty palms to act right I pull out my Spider Chalk, but if I am adding in some spin training (not my favorite) I use the Black Widow which is chalk + resin. And last but not least...if ALL ELSE FAILS and I am about to throw the stinking slippery pole out the window I use a secret weapon - grease the pole with iTac2 and then take a chalk ball and pat chalk on top of the tac. It is messy but if you just have to squeeze in a few more attempts at a trick and nothing is working right this is my go to.
Basically, I do not have one grip that works best, I have a whole chemistry section of my dance bag that comes out with each class and I work through the products based on my needs.
I have always struggled with sweat. Pole is hard work and there’s always so much of it. I would have to move on in lessons or practices because the harder I worked to nail a move, the sweatier I got. It feels like I’ve tried various grip aids with little to no help. I’ve had to break up my static routines into parts just to get through a set of moves. It would be the end of lesson and I’d try to record what I learned and feel so defeated because I couldn’t get through it. Not because I didn’t know how, but because I lost my grip. I wipe my hands constantly and clean the pole often, but sometimes it’s just not enough. I haven’t found the right combo yet, but so far the two products that have helped me the most are Black Widow and Make Me Dusty liquid. Black Widow is liquid chalk, but also has rosin in it. It doesn’t weigh me down and it gives me the extra push I need to finish a routine or hold a pose. Make Me Dusty liquid with pole grip and antiperspirant has also helped dry me out. Neither product is too tacky to where it would leave grease marks. For long practices or strength training I’d definitely go with Black Widow. For performances I’d probably choose Make Me Dusty for the added glitter and fun fragrance effect.
So there you have it, three different people and three different ways to use grip aids. If you have any other stratgies please let us know. The use of grip aids is a huge conversation with no one good answer, but if we pool our ideas we can help everyone figure out what is best for them.