There are no stupid questions (most of the time): On grip and gloves

So I’ve been seeing a lot of interesting teacher posts lately, in particular one about respect. (Or lackthereof, in the form of student lateness, being self-important and demanding, etc.).

From the point of view of an instructor, yes, please don’t be late. I can’t slow down the class and teach you everything you missed, which will be the basis for everything you’re now going to struggle to learn. Like, I really can’t–it’s in the rule book.But that doesn’t stop me from feeling very bad and guilty about it.

So for my own personal happiness and your personal progress, please be on time. It’s soooooo great to have a roomful of dancers changed and ready to go right on the hour, so if you want me to love your forever AND have a great class, come early and ready to rock.

With that out of the way, I have to say that I don’t really have a lot of complaints about students. The people that are demanding (ie. wanting to be taught something very difficult or a move we’re not learning) usually chill out when they realize the beginner moves I’m teaching are plenty challenging on their own. The ones that have a million complaints (“I need a new pole, mine is too slippery!”) are usually a little insecure about looking awkward, so they make up excuses about things being wrong with the environment, or the move we’re learning, to remove the focus from them. Once you know that as a teacher, you start focusing on ways to help boost confidence, instead of getting defensive or annoyed.

But setting aside those things aside, I have to say: I love questions.

Questions show passion. Questions show engagement. Questions show you trust me! I take that really seriously and no matter what your question is (even if it’s a little silly), I’m  happy to answer it. Honestly.

So, here’s a question I recently got after one of my classes (and have gotten before, and asked my own teachers when I was a student). I thought I’d answer it on here in case it might be helpful to someone… or maybe to stir up a few opposing viewpoints!

Question. (From a first time student): My hands are slippery. My friend told me about pole dancing gloves/Dry Hands–should I get some?

So my first reaction to the gloves idea was HELL NO. My second (and the one I actually said out loud) was something like “HELL NO… for now.”

First off, grip gloves, in my opinion, are exclusively reserved for 1. experienced dancers, and 2. tricks.

It’s worth saying that the student that asked me this was brand new, and enrolled in a spins class… so right off the top of my head, I had to tell her that grip gloves are really not going to help with spins.

But more importantly, as a general rule, I really try to steer new students away from grip aids altogether (including Dry Hands).

That’s because, by immediately deferring to aids, you’re starting a pattern of dependency on that item (which gets expensive quickly, if we’re talking about liquid grip). This is often to the detriment of developing your own hand and wrist strength. Simply making your skin stickier (or wearing sticky gloves) really isn’t strengthening your hands–and it’s going to pull and tear more and hurt a lot more in the end. Believe me, I know this because I’ve done it, and you don’t want the blisters. Truth.

In the case of gloves, you’ll save yourself the callouses, but you’re getting cheated out of a fundamental feel for the pole.

A visual reference for how bad a look this is.

Unless you want to spend your entire dance career looking like Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good As It Gets, do yourself a favor and skip gloves until you’re advanced. Not being comfortable dancing with bare hands is a handicap, and a pretty unsightly one at that.

And yes, callouses are part of the fun, so quit yer bitchin’. They’ll protect your hands over time, and they just come with the territory. If you don’t like it, consider a gentler form of dance. Seriously! I get that pole can be tough on your body and skin, and it’s not for everybody.

Of course, there are some exceptions to what I just said:

Exception #1: Safety for advanced dancers.

If you’re working on inversions for over an hour and your hands are sweating (sometimes we all get past the point where Dry Hands can help anymore), I can see how grip gloves can be really useful. Safety being such a huge concern with most of those tricks, you don’t want to worry about sweaty hands when you need to work on building strength and working out form. Totally get that. Mazel.

Exception #2: Dry Hands half way or three-quarters through a class for a beginner.

I absolutely advise against Dry Handing-up before even starting a class. You’re developing a bad habit, as I wrote above. But that said, if you’re really struggling with sweaty hands, a small drop to get you through the last 20-30 minutes of a class is okay in my opinion. Just be conscious of how much you’re using, and make an effort to use the less aggressive aids (frequent pole wipe downs, alcohol on your hands) as long as you can before switching over. I think you’ll see much better progress in your grip and confidence on the pole as a reward for sticking it out.

Any questions for me? Totally disagree? I think I’m going to post/answer whenever I get an interesting or high frequency one from students, but obvis I love questions and comments from other pole bloggers too.

Don’t forget–spins class at 6pm this Thursday!

Happy (gloveless) twirls,

1 Comment

  1. I have super sweaty hands. I don’t always use grip aids either. But i find that Tite Grip for me is useless unless I put it on 20 min before i practice pole. That is just me though. If I decided to pole without it I just don’t’ both applying it at all.

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