You’re trying a pole move for the first time, and you’re set for the challenge. You position your hands and get ready to move, only to find the pole feels like it’s been coated in grease and your hands keep slipping out of position before you’ve even taken a step forward.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty you can do to get a grip on the pole again.
Why do I sweat?
While there can be medical reasons for sweaty palms (best solved by speaking to your doctor about treatment), the most common cause is nervousness.
When you’re not sure about something, or expect a bad experience, your body reacts accordingly by getting into a sweat. If you already know you struggle with your grip, it could be that you’re anticipating sweaty palms…. and hey presto, you’ve conjured up your worst fear!
What can I do about it?
Every body is different and finding the right solution for you might take a bit of time. That said, here are 6 things you can try to make a difference to your grip in your pole fitness classes.
1. Improve your grip strength
The stronger your grip, the more secure you’ll feel on the pole. You may even be able to reduce slippage by holding tighter, making you feel more in control and less anxious.
You can buy grip strength trainers in most sports shops or online, but using a tennis ball or something similar with a bit of flex in it will get results. Squeeze and hold the ball, ideally for 10-15 seconds before releasing. Repeat as needed.
Another technique I’ve seen used is to take a sheet of newspaper, and using one hand, roll the page into the smallest and tightest ball possible. You then switch hands to do the next page. This will definitely work, but may fill up your recycling bin quite quickly!
If you are working on the pole, and only when it’s safe to do so (eg. a move like a pull up or a Fireman spin where you can confidently land on your feet at a safe height) you can improve your hold by gripping tighter and allowing yourself to slide down the pole if you start to feel your hands slip a little.
2. Try and understand what’s making you anxious
If you can work out where your anxiety is coming from, your teacher may be able to suggest ways to support you and reduce the stress.
Talk it through. Your teacher may be able to give you a heavier spot (so you know she’s got your weight and there’s no danger of you going anywhere), offer an alternative to make it feel easier, or something else to change the way you think about the move so that you can crack it.
You can also try some deep breathing to relax yourself. It may sound a bit ‘out there’, but the less stressed you feel the less your hands will sweat, and breathing can be a quick and simple way to reduce the tension in your body.
3. Use a grip aid
There are lots of things on the market you can use to improve your grip, including liquid chalk and rosin. If you prefer to try a branded solution, you could look at Dry Hands, Tite Grip or Dirty Girl Poletice.
Dry Hands is the favourite at Riverside Pole and Fitness as it sucks up moisture and gives most people the best results for general use. It’s easy to wash off with soap and water, and as you only need a small amount for each application, a bottle lasts a long time. If you sweat a lot, Tite Grip and Dirty Girl Poletice may be better options. They act as antiperspirants and can be layered with another grip for more effective results.
If you prefer a reusable solution, try grip gloves to help you feel more secure. Buy gloves that are designed for static pole use to get the best results: Mighty Grip are a good brand to start on.
4. Take a break
Sometimes the best thing you can do is step away from a particular move. There are so many things you can practice on the pole, so if you’re struggling with your hands then think about floorwork, transitions, conditioning or leg-based moves before going back to hands.
Most people get sweaty hands when they try something new that’s out of their comfort zone. It’s also more of a problem when you’re tired, and that goes for whether you’ve been doing pole fitness for a few weeks or a few years. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to try again in a little while.
5. Clean your pole (and your hands)
A grubby pole is hard to stick to, and you may find you need to wipe the pole down during your class. A towel is always available in the studio, or you can bring your own to use. Microfibre cloths are really effective, but an old flannel or hand towel will do.
Keeping your grip is doubly difficult if your hands have come into contact with slippy lotions too soon before you get on the pole – it’s why I’d always recommend you don’t moisturise your body on the days you have your lessons. If you forget and there’s residue there, you can usually remove it with some washing up liquid.
6. Don’t stop!
The more you practice the easier it gets: think back to your first lesson and look at yourself now, and you’ll realise that most of the things that seemed impossible then are just part of this week’s warm-up.
As you spend more time on the pole, your confidence naturally increases and tends to mean you’re less likely to struggle than when you start out. This said, when trying any new move, even experienced pole dancers have a tendency to sweat a little. Keep working at it.
With practice your technique will improve, and in many moves it should make it easier on your hands as other parts of your body take some of the pressure. You’ll also find that the stronger you get, the easier it will be to grip and hold in all of your moves.
Try some of these tips the next time your grip is going and find out what works best for you. It would be great to hear what’s worked for you, so if you have any more ideas to share, please comment below or send us a message on Twitter or Facebook.