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Pole Frustrations - Getting a Grip

4 minutes
20 December 2021

Ever have one of those days where you just can’t seem to stick to the pole? Maybe you have them a lot? In the world of pole dance, sometimes getting yourself to stick to the pole can be just as challenging as the moves themselves!

Being a “Slippery Susan” is a big part of your pole dance journey so we’ve asked Zoe, the epic boss lady of Altitude Pole Nelson herself for her top tips on how to get a grip!

What are some of the things you've noticed that cause a slippery day for you?

There’s two main things. Mind and body.

Body is easier to explain so these are my observations. I find I’m most slippery if I’ve just de-haired or haven’t de-haired in a long time, right in the middle is the sweet spot. I don’t like to shower/bathe just before pole, I find a little bit of dirt/sweat is helpful, squeaky clean and I slide. Temperature can play a part but I think it’s more to do with the relationship between your body temperature and the pole. If either myself or the pole aren’t warmed up properly, it’s not going to work.

Mentally, if I approach the moves with confidence I’m just fine but if I’m a little bit nervous about a new move or I don’t trust myself, then I can feel the palms sweating already.

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What do you normally do to help with your grip?

I like to do some good climbs to warm up the pole properly, I like to get a wee bit of a sweat on (for non-pit heavy moves), I use meths on the pole (I honestly think a good spray of meths is as good as Dry Hands in some instances!), and, if I am reaaallly sweaty then I get my sweat towel, give the pole a good dry and wipe my hands. (If you’ve seen the pole lols clip I’m 100% the pole and bum wiper 😅).

I also shave my callouses on my hands and feet with a pumice stone whenever I have a long shower.

How does technique contribute to gripping to the pole for you?

A lot of grip issues come down to strength, when I first ever went to a gym I used to do hanging leg raises and after 3 I’d have to drop as my hands would slip off, nowadays I could hold myself up there for 10 just fine. It all comes down to practice and just getting back up when you do slip down.

For pole that means actively squeezing and engaging the correct muscles. When you first start out and you find out that bare skin can grip the pole I think we often believe that’s the be all end all, but just doing an apprentice from the ground for instance requires so much positioning and engagement. A lot of pole is about push/pull forces, once you realize that a hand isn’t just there for support but is physically pressing into the pole it’s a huge game changer.

Is moisturizer really the enemy?

Personally I would never moisturize before a pole class, but I think it’s fine to do it the night before and let it soak into the skin. Overall I think the whole moisturizer debate comes down to a. What is your natural skin type? And b. What type of moisturizer are you using? Because we’re all so different I don’t think there is a right and a wrong here, but in general I’d say don’t do it within 4-6 hours of class as it might not fully soak into the skin.

When is the best time to use grip-aid products?

I try to use grip aids as little as possible, so when I do use them I usually mean business.

For me I typically only use them for new moves or moves that I’m not totally comfortable with. So after the warm up and conditioning I wait until I know what’s coming up and if I don’t think I’ll be able to hold a move then I put some on. In general I like to test my grip without it first though. So I attempt the move, go “this doesn’t feel secure”, I wipe the pole, wipe my hands and then apply a bit of grip. I let it dry for a second (sometimes put excess on the pole 🤪) and then give the move another go.

I try not to reapply grip too much either. If you are someone who performs or is thinking of getting into performing/competing I think it’s good practice to get into the habit of not applying grip constantly as you don’t often get a chance to reapply mid routine!

Do you have any other words of wisdom that you'd like to share with us?

The main thing I’ve realized is that I only really “need” grip aid if I’m learning something new or doing something where I don’t trust myself.

If I’m confident in my abilities I don’t need it at all (apart from those rare days we’ve all had where nothing wants to grip). Sometimes that’s because I’m nervous and for me that leads to palm sweating, other times it’s simply because I’m not as strong or conditioned in the particular grip that I need to do a move. In the latter instances it’s probably my body telling me I need to practice more or do the downgrades before attempting the full move, and that’s fine.

When you start pole EVERYTHING is new, and your grip isn’t trained so you’ll probably find yourself using grip aids a lot, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As your skills and confidence build you’ll find yourself reaching less and less for whatever your grip of choice comes to be, and those moves at the start that seemed impossible without it (like a basic pole climb) will start to become second nature.

If you’re not already, be sure to follow Zoe on Instagram - @zoanna_aerialist

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