Chalk Talk

You don't have to tell me - I already know that's the best blog post title ever. Seriously though, we need to have a discussion about chalk, it's usage, and more importantly, it's absurd misuse I see on a daily basis.

At CrossFit Balance, there are two kinds of chalk available. First is the kind that helps improve grip by absorbing the moisture in one's hands. This is the chalk used by powerlifters, weightlifters, gymnasts, and rock climbers. It's made from magnesium carbonate.

The second type of chalk is what we use to write on the floor to record our weights, rounds, times, whatever. This is standard sidewalk chalk used by children and adults who still play hop-scotch. It's made from the ground-up, powdered remains of Barney.

This is why it's called sidewalk chalk.

Let's start with standard gym chalk. This stuff is excellent, especially in the midst of DC's sweltering humidity. Excessive sweating can really inhibit one's grip on a bar, kettlebell, or pull-up bar. Gym chalk is incredibly help, but far too often, I see it used inappropriately. For instance...

1) Gym chalk should never be used to write on the floor or wall. Why? Because it causes a big goddamn mess. This is why we have sidewalk chalk at your disposal. If there's no sidewalk chalk available, write in your notebooks. If you don't have your notebook, promptly kick yourself in the face.

2) Stop over-chalking. Before metcons, I see a lot of people chalk their hands beforehand (ha! get it?). Then they chalk up roughly 37 more times during the workout. You don't need that much. As much as you think you do, you don't. In a 5-12 minute workout, you don't need to apply chalk to your hands more than twice - maybe three times if it's long and you sweat like Dan Samarov. Really, you're just using it as an excuse to rest when you should be doing the damn workout. Which brings me to my next point...

3) Gym chalk should NEVER be removed from its designated bucket. For some reason, people think they need it right next to them during their workout. Guess what? You don't. When a gymnast or weightlifter chalks up, they don't bring the block with them to the apparatus or platform. And no offense, but what they do is far more impressive. Besides, those extra five to ten steps you'll take to walk to the bucket will not RUIN your workout. When chalk is taken out of the bucket, it breaks or gets stepped on or left out and causes a really shitty mess.


As far as sidewalk chalk goes, it's generally used in our gym to keep track of rounds or reps during a hard workout. For the most part, it's not necessary to have, but it's generously provided to you for ease. Nevertheless, everyone ruins everything...

1) Do not use sidewalk chalk to help your grip. It doesn't work. It's made of calcium sulfate. And no one wants a gym full of neon barbells.

2) Unless you're actually talented, do not use sidewalk chalk to draw dragons, unicorns, and bullshit on the floor. If you're unsure if you're talented or not, just ask me. FYI: I'm going to say you're not.

3) When your workout is over, PUT SIDEWALK CHALK AWAY. Every day it's left sprinkled about the gym as though Oompa-Loompas are shitting all over the place. Like gym chalk, this also breaks, gets stepped on, and causes a mess. I'm not asking you to mop the floor afterwards; just put the chalk back in a bucket or on the window sill or anywhere that isn't a box or the floor.

I apologize if my tone here is one of frustration, but this shit is frustrating. In the end, this is really simple stuff. Stop over-chalking and using it as an excuse to rest. Keep gym chalk in the bucket at all times and put sidewalk chalk away when you're done with it. In the end, you're all adults. I know you're often disoriented and tired after your workouts; regardless, be respectful and clean up after yourselves.


Becoming Bulletproof

I got an email the other day from my friend and fellow trainer, Mike McNiff, asking if I'd be be kind enough to write a review of his new book, Becoming Bulletproof. The email went something like this...

"Hey Quint, even though I learned everything I know from you and you're way better looking than me, would you please write a review of my book? I promise to never squat more than you again."

While I appreciate the gesture, Mike, I actually already planned on writing this review. Squat away, my friend! So let's get down to business and talk about Becoming Bulletproof...

Now, despite the title, which McNiff obviously plagiarized directly from this blog, the book is legit. And at only $8 you get more than your money's worth. It is chock full of useful information ranging from warm-up protocols, workout tips/suggestions, and just generally great all-around advice. It is clear through reading it that Mike and his co-author Tim Anderson put a lot of time, energy and thought into it.

Becoming Bulletproof delves into orders of thinking that I had actually not considered regarding the evolution of human movement, from how we develop as babies and how our bodies learn and adapt. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, we've actually devolved thanks to incessant sitting. Nowadays, the world is rampant with terrible postures and movement dysfunctions, which limits one's potential and eventually results in injury. Mike and Tim have developed steps to "reset" one's body to move and perform the way it should. And what's more is that it's easy to read, even easier to understand, and it works. Want proof?

One need look no further than McNiff himself to see that he knows what he's talking about. Just over six months ago, Mike blew out both of his knees in a back squat accident. It was a catastrofuck. Now, after the doctors told him he'd never walk properly again and that his lifting would be minimal at best, he's squatting in the mid-200's and rapidly working his way back to over 400lbs. By utilizing his own philosophies, he's literally rebuilding himself. Although, I will say he was pretty useless when I needed help moving into my new place last month.

And this is just my opinion, which might not hold a lot of weight to some. But when top-level coaches and strength gurus like Dan John, John Brookfield, and Gray Cook are endorsing your product, you know you have something special. It's cheap, informative, and most importantly, effective. So go buy the damn thing!