Reasons against (excessive) use of chalk:
• It has your bodily fluids (sweat, blood) and skin caked in with it.
• It’s unhygienic and unpleasant for the next person to use the equipment
• Too much chalk actually causes the hands to blister and cut open.
• Chalk dust makes it much harder to keep the gym and equipment clean.
• It becomes an excuse for resting in a workout, so you lose intensity*
• Persistent breathing in chalk dust (for the coaches who are there long hours) has a detrimental effect on respiratory function. *
• There are some ethical issues with the mining of chalk and the worker’s conditions.
• Then, there is the misplaced tenet about CrossFitters using chalk. You don’t actually need it that much!!! Have a look at these articles at the end of this post.
*As regards the breathing of chalk dust, the CrossFit Journal says this:
“Something few people consider is that gym chalk use can increase the particulate matter in the air inside a gym by about 2,400 percent over that seen outdoors, and about 14 percent of particulates inhaled when in the gym are retained in the alveoli (5). Although gym chalk does not have an established toxicity and has not been researched in this respect, it would be prudent to reduce chalk accumulations by regular cleaning and by advising trainees to use only enough to dry the hands. The action of chalking should not be an excuse to take frequent breaks, chalk should not be caked thickly, and chalk should not be wasted by creating plumes of airborne particles through theatrical chalking that increases respiratory risk.”
A lot of other CrossFit Boxes are going down the route of limiting chalk use, particularly with the pandemic shining a light on keeping gyms clean and hygienic.
We are not saying that occasionally you do need help with your grip especially on really hot days. We are saying that you need it a lot less than you think. The main issue comes with sweaty hands. This can be relieved by use of towelling wrist wraps.
We have purchased some alternatives to chalk in the form of eco balls. (They are used by climbers in ecologically sensitive areas). We will be selling them along with a CrossFit Guildford chalk ball bag. They provide good grip with minimal use. If you currently have a chalk ball and a purpose made climbers chalk ball bag which prevents the chalk going everywhere when you use it, you may continue to use it for the time being.
There are, however, caveats to any chalk or alternative to chalk use.
• Use it very sparingly
• Keep it well contained in your bag. Don’t create a chalk cloud.
• Don’t use it as an excuse to come down off the bar and have a break.
• Don’t use it unless you absolutely have to.
• Clean the equipment and floor afterwards assiduously