I get a lot of questions from new pole dancers about grip aids. Which ones to use, when to use them and whether to use them. The answers are rarely clear-cut and etched in stone as which grip aid to use differs depending on your skin type, the pole’s finish and the climate. But there are guidelines to follow when considering pole dancing grip aids to help you pick the best one.
Why I am Pro Grip Aids
There are a few who believe you should not be training with pole dancing grip aids, that it will prevent you from getting stronger and that is it cheating. I’m going to come right out and say that I believe this is a crock of bull. I have a theory that the people who claim that using grip aid will prevent you from building strength are not suffering from hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) or extremely dry skin, live in the ideal climate, or have super sticky coated poles . In my opinion, using grip aids to help reduce sweating hands or dry powdery skin can HELP build strength. If you can not grip the pole, not from lack of strength but from sheer slipperiness, then how can you do the moves and exercises that will help you build strength and range of motion through out the rest of your body?
For example, there are days, sometimes weeks in the winter months, when my skin is so dry that my hand and legs feel as though they are covered in talcum powder. On those days, I can not do something as simple as a crucifix (pole stand). To say that I’m simply not strong enough to do a crucifix and that I should train without grip aids to “build” leg strength is ridiculous. If I had followed their advice to not use grip aids when I train, I would probably have thrown in the towel long ago. Especially since I started my pole dance journey during the cold, dry Canadian winter. Similarly, if you are practicing inverts and you can’t even hold on because your palms are sweaty, a little dab of grip aid can help you practice your inverts safely with proper form and help build your core muscles. Much better than slip sliding frustratingly down and even hurting your wrist as you inadvertently over-grip to in an attempt to get more purchase. So if you use a touch of pole dancing grip aid when you practice, don’t feel guilty about it. The fact that you are on that pole, secure and therefore safe, and practicing your moves means that you will get stronger. Just be sure to train your grip strength as well.
Not to mention, professional athletes (baseball, golf, tennis, etc) do not think twice about using grip aids to improve their game. Pole is no different. Even world level pole competitors use grip aid when training and competing. In fact, last time I checked, they slather it on during competitions. Are they cheating? Heck, no! Grip aids help level the playing field, making it possible for people with all skin types to play and pole safely. If grip aids were outlawed in competitions, only people lucky enough to be born with ideal skin will be able to safely compete. Go tell a gymnastic team that using chalk is considered cheating and you will be laughed out of existence. Pole dancing, being a real athletic endeavor, is no different.
That being said, I don’t use grip aid all the time, mostly because I don’t always need it. There are times when my skin works with the climate and pole. But when I do, I don’t always use the same brand. Pole dancers, both new and seasoned are faced with an ever-growing range of formulas to choose from. Below are the brands of pole dancing grip aids I have tried, my opinion on them, as well as when I choice to use each one.
Mighty Grip is the first pole dancing grip aid I tried. It seems like very where I go, students and instructors alike carry this product around religiously. Mighty Grip is a heat activated thermoplastic powder. Sprinkle sparingly on your hands and press your palms together, as the powder warms up to your body , it will create a film of tackiness. The keyword here is heat. Unfortunately for me, my hands are usually quite cool and never warm enough to activate the powder. But those with warmer digits swear by this product. It also works for most pole finishes. It does not, however, stop you from sweating right through the grip aid, so Mighty Grip is great for adding tackiness to dry hands but not for combating sweaty palms.
Note: Mighty Grip has a new formula with a lower activation temperature that I have not try. When I try this product, I promise to fill you in with more information.
Tite Grip is my go-to solution for sweaty palms. It is a clear drying antiperspirant lotion that helps keep yoru palms slip proof. Apply Tite Grip 30 minutes before poling to prevent sweaty palms. Tite grip works for up to 6 hrs, wicking away moisture from your hands. Since it is an antiperspirant, Tite Grip does not add extra grip or tackiness to your skin. So if you are like me and have dry skin AND palms that sweat, you can add a tacky grip aid just prior to pole practice for a customized cocktail of grippiness. Due to it’s versatility and ability to work well with other formulas as well as different pole finishes, this is one of my favourite grip aids. Some argue that it is not a grip aid at all, as it is only an antiperspirant.
Dry Hands is another grip aid that helps with sweaty palms. Unlike Tite grip, Dry Hands work as more than just an antiperspirant. It adds grip, not so much by being tacky, but by adding “texture” to the skin. After spreading dry hands evenly and thinly on your hands and skin, resist the temptation to rub it in. Rubbing will remove the product as it is designs to sit on top of the skin. I have used dry hands on chrome, brass as well as powder coated poles with great success. It does, however, leave a white residue on the poles and the hands that need to be cleaned off after use. This is another grip aid I keep in my arsenal. Update: Another great way to use Dry Hands is to pat it directly onto the poles on humid days. Thanks Kitty Glitz for this useful tip!
Another regular favourite is Itac2. A wax based grip enhancer, Itac2 is hypoallergenic and formulated using organic beeswax. There are different grip levels to choose from. I use level 2 (regular strength) for body and limb grip. For hand grip I vary between level 2 and 4 (extra strength) depending on how much grip I need that day. a little goes a long way for this grip aid and putting on too much can backfire as the layers of wax slides over each other and become slick. Itac2 works great on chrome and stainless steel poles. On brass poles however, it can be problematic. On my platinum stages brass pole, Itac2 works fine. But on my brass X-pole and on brass poles at several studios I have been to, Itac2 becomes very temperamental. On these brass poles, Itac2 will be very sticky for a short period and then become extremely slick. One theory is that since brass is porous the wax fills in the microscopic gaps and smooths at the surface making it slick. If you dance often on chrome and stainless steel, you will love this grip aid. If you have a brass pole, test it out first! Also, make sure to use a small amount, rub it in, and wait for it to dry before trying to pole.
Dewpoint Pole positions itself as a grip aid that is also a natural moisturizer for your skin. This grip aid is a godsend for people with dry skin. It comes in a range of formula from light to ultra providing oil free moisture that helps your skin stick to the pole. Pole dancers with dry skin learns from experience that their skin sticks better just as they start to sweat a tiny bit, when they skin is a bit clammy. This product mimics this feeling. I use Dew Point all over my body and limbs, but I avoid getting it on my hands. If you have sweaty skin, this is probably not a good product for you. I have used Dewpoint Pole on every pole surface imaginable (including random playgrounds).
Grrrip comes in a spray as well as a lotion. For our purposes, I am refering to the lotion as I have not used the spray personally. Grrrip is a hold enhancer that does not create a tacky feeling oh the skim. SImilar to Dryhands, Grrrip works both to reduce sweat as well as increase grip. It also repels water. Some pole dancers claim that Grrrip last longer for them than Dryhands but for me they are about the same.
Cramer’s Firm Grip
This anti slip paste is a circus favourite, useful on apparatuses such as silks. I personally did not have much success using this grip aid for pole dancing. While it did provide a firm grip some of the time, the results were unpredictable and my hands went from glued on, to slip sliding away in an instant. It was also very difficult to wash off my pole. It was also one of the more expensive grip aids. I do not recommend this product for pole dancing. However, if you need to pole dance fully dressed and don’t mind steaming the stuff off your pole later, rubbing Firm Grip on your pole will help you stick when wearing tighting fitting clothes.
The above are all the pole dancing grip aids I have tried personally. Grip aids still on my to-try list include: Liquid Grip and Gorilla Gold. I have not included are gloves or other training aids that enhance grip as they are generally not allowed into competitions and are visually distracting. Not everyone share the same views I do when it comes to using grip aids and thats perfectly fine. But don’t let something guilt you out of using pole dancing grip aid if you believe it will help make your practices safer and more efficient. Safety always comes first. It’s not cheating, aleast not to any of the major competitions, and definitely not to me.
Until next time, be sure to Live It Up!