Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk

Pour some Chalk (?) on me...

We're all guilty of it. 

Perhaps we learned the nasty habit from watching the gymnasts in the Olympics, dusting their hands before jumping on the parallel bars or the rings.  Maybe we picked it up from watching that guy at the box, chalking hands, bars, legs, floor, mat, and everything else in his area to maximize perceived performance.  Whatever our muse.....chalk has long been the solution to every problem from rusty bars, humidity, sweat, torn hands, and slippery floors.  And the chalk bucket, at least in most boxes, sees about as much traffic as the only watering hole on the Serengeti, with athletes jockeying for the chance to rub the brick at the bottom as if it were some mystical Aladdin's Lamp complete with a Babaar to jump out and assist you with your WOD.  Unfortunately, all this usually does is leave a fine coating of white powder on everything that would make Tony Montana jealous.  Which leaves the coaches and owners texting each other "smdh" they are usually the ones cleaning up after the snow-angels have departed.  In fact, many gyms ban the use of chalk altogether.

But......Where's the fun in that?

Recently, liquid chalk has made a resurgence in popularity from it's humble beginnings of drab, institutional-cleaning bottle labels and old-tire smells.  One brand gaining in popularity is Spider Chalk, a product created by a fellow CrossFit box owner and entrepreneur in the Atlanta area.  Available in two forms, Spider Chalk and Black Widow Chalk, their innovative formula uses two bonding agents to help the compound retain its tackiness, even in the most humid and sweaty boxes.  

I's the South folks.  We sweat like wildebeests down here. 

My first exposure was to Black Widow in the form of a 4 oz bottle, and I made the rookie mistake of not reading instructions.  As soon as I opened the package, I immediately squirted a dime-sized portion into my palm to try.  The liquid came out a with the texture of a runny, watered-down-milk, a thin liquid that had virtually no use whatsoever....that is until I realized my folly.  You must shake the contents well to properly mix the formula as, with any combined liquid, it tends to separate.

There was the kicker.  Once mixed, a repeat of the same procedure with a quarter-sized puddle in my palm showed me the difference.  This time, the consistency was more similar to sun tan lotion, evenly colored and stable.  Next step?  Rub hands together vigorously, allowing 30 seconds to dry.  My hands were reminiscent of Mrs. Bond's kindergarten class back in '83, when we all had loads of fun with the Elmer's Glue.  

Because that's exactly what my hands looked like.  

Surely.....this won't last, I thought.  I was wrong.  The WOD in question was a grinder, called "Row and Go," consisting of 4 Rounds rotating on the minute:

  • Minute 1    1-Round of Cindy (5 CTB's, 10 PU's, 15 Air Squats)
  • Minute 2     15 Calorie Row
  • Minute 3     Max reps power clean and jerks (135 lbs)

The Black Widow chalk was most noticeable on the C2B's as normally I'd have packed on the powdered chalk to the point I looked like I just murdered Frosty the Snowman.  Just a single quarter-sized amount lasted all the way through the first two rounds, until at least I absentmindedly wiped my sweaty mitts on a towel between stations.  Not once did a tear begin to rear its ugly head, nor did I slip from the bar at any time.  On the barbell, the Black Widow kept my hands in a solid grip, with no slipping, despite rivers of sweat rivaling the mighty Mississippi running down my arms.  Even on the slick plastic handle of the C2 rower, the tackiness didn't wear off.  

Verdict?  All in all, if you can remember the simplest instructions and refrain from wiping your hands mid-WOD, the Black Widow will survive most of the WODs we do.  Of course....nothing stops you from reapplying and taking that "chalk break" right?  

Do yourself a favor and make your hands (and your coaches) happy and skip the chalk-bucket.