February 14, 2016
Confessions of a chalk addict
By William Imbo
February 15, 2014
“OK-everybody ready? 3, 2…” “WAIT-I need to chalk up!” Ahh yes, the inevitable phrase that you no doubt will hear more than once in your CrossFit career. To some, the white powder that resides in the bucket holds a stimulating power that is almost comparable to the drug it closely resembles. In fact, I’m sure you must know more than one addict in your gym-and you know what? I’m one too.
Hello. My name is Will, and I am a chalk addict. This is my story.
My descent into the dark world of chalk abuse began in my early months of CrossFit. I wanted to be like the cool kids in the box—those with the Reebok Nanos and Rogue shorts. These guys would tear through their pull-ups with ease and lift insurmountable weight on their Olympic lifts. All the while, the telltale trace of the white powder could be found in the cracks of their hands and the grooves of their bars. This could not be a coincidence. I had been warned that once you put your hands into the infamous bucket of chalk, there was no turning back. The proof of the damage that chalk could cause was right in front of my eyes—a regular at my box carried a rock-climbing pouch on his hip, an unfortunate side effect that his addiction to the powder had caused.
But I ignored the warnings. I needed to know—I needed to try this chalk for myself.
One day, I nervously approached the cool kids at my box who were inevitably huddled around the chalk bucket like the junkies they were. I mustered the courage to ask if I could take a hit of the white powder.
“Listen kid-it’s not for everyone. And once you start, there’s no going back—are you sure you want to do this?”
There was no doubt in my mind—I had to see for myself if I could reach the levels of performance that I had seen in the addicts. I plunged my hands into the bucket—there was no turning back now.
The effect was not as instantaneous as I had expected—until I gripped the pull-up bar. Suddenly, my grip on the bar felt stronger—I could hold on for longer, my pull-ups began to blend together like the colors of a beautiful painting. I needed more. I dropped from the bar and grabbed a whole block of chalk, covering my palms with it until my skin was barely visible. I now made my way to the barbell, feeling the full buzz of the powder. All of a sudden, the hook grip—something I had struggled with for so long, didn’t seem so daunting. With my thumb and palm smothered in chalk, I wrapped my fingers around the bar, feeling the metal grooves of the bar with an added sense of comfort and security-the sweat and slippery palms had faded from memory. The bar moved from ground to overhead with the greatest ease, all the while secure in my hands—no adjustment needed, no sign of rips.
I was feeling the full effect of the infamous chalk.
But alas, too much of anything can be harmful, and I rode the white dragon for too long. I was—I am addicted.
All of a sudden, I need it for every lift, every wod. I cannot back squat without it, my legs tremble and my mind wavers. I forget the number of reps I have hit on my burpees. Wall Balls tumble to the floor, falling through my sweaty, trembling hands. My shorts and shirts have become caked with the powder, the white residue is caked beneath my fingernails—the chalk even marks where I have been on the ground in front of my bar. Fellow CrossFitters point at me and laugh. Others just shake their head in dismay—their warnings going unheeded.
Oh yes, my friends. I am addicted. There is no turning back for me, and that was my choice. But before you plunge into the bucket of chalk, ask yourself:
Can you handle the white powder?