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Chalk it up: the ins and outs of gym chalk

Chalk it up: the ins and outs of gym chalk

The irresistable white powder. Chalk

From naked men in Ancient Greece to seawater as a sustainable solution for your gymnastics, weightlifting and crossfit chalk

It’s all part of the routine. As standard as clicking on the kettle for your morning cuppa. You get into the gym, warm up, shake out your shoulders and chalk up ready to lift those weights, jump into your acrobatic routine or kick off your WOD with a whole lot of T2B….

But just a sec….what’s the chalk for? Why is everyone around you patting this white powder onto their hands?

 It all started in gymnastics. Which itself dates back to Ancient Greek times…you can imagine it, the Greek sun beating down, these naked men exercising in the heat (naked?! Yes! The word gymnastics translated from the Greek ‘to train naked’🍑🍆) They were preparing for war, training their bodies to leap over animals (as you do). It must have been sweaty work, and at some point they must have realised that wiping chalk - which is found naturally in Greece - on their hands gave them better grip.

This use of chalk continued throughout the history of gymnastics, and spread into other disciplines like gymnastics, weight lifting, climbing and crossfit. (Although gymnasts did start wearing clothes at some point. 😅 But if you are after that naked-like freedom during your workout, check out our made-for-movement clothing.😉)

Back when it was ok to play football naked... Photo by ALEXANDRE LALLEMAND

So, back to the 21st century….Lifting weights, doing parallel bars, kettlebell swings. Whatever your gym sweat, using chalk for weightlifting and gymnastics gives you better grip on the equipment you’re using. It’s sweaty work, and the chalk soaks up your sweat, making your hands drier and less slippery. Firstly, this means it’s safer as better grip means better control, and less chance you’re going to send a kettlebell flying across the room.😅

It also improves performance - if you can grip for longer, you can push yourself and do more reps.

Paste it on, coat your hands, quick clap, and you’re ready to go.

(Not gonna lie, it’s a great way to take a moment to psych up for your next set during a tough crossfit workout.)

But does it make a difference which chalk you’re using? Will any old chalk do? We’re here to tell you how most chalk is damaging the environment. (But it’s not all doom and gloom, there is a sustainable option 🥳)

Where does gym chalk come from?

Chalk is essentially magnesium carbonate (or MgCO₃ if you’re training for a pub quiz). It’s not the same as the stuff used in classrooms in the days before digital whiteboards - that’s calcium carbonate (another one for the pub quiz). But not all gym chalk is equal. Weightlifting chalk can contain small amounts of toxic heavy metals like lead, arsenic and chromium. Yikes! Doesn’t sound great, does it? It all depends on how your weightlifting chalk is sourced.

The majority of chalk (probably what you patted onto your hands last time you went to the gym) is extracted from the mineral magnesite. 70% of the world’s magnesite is open-pit mined in China. It’s an energy-intensive process (and most of this energy comes from petrol). Not only does it pollute the local area, the mines leave huge eyesores in the landscape.

Fine grained magnesite from Vezna, Czech Republic. Size: 10 x 6 cm, photo: Zbynek Burival

There’s a chance your gym chalk also includes additives, like drying agents and essential oils. Do you need additives and fillers? Probably not. Pure chalk does exactly what it needs to - giving you better grip in the gym.

There is another kind of chalk…it’s pure, simple and sustainable. It’s Techno Chalk

Say hello to eco friendly gym chalk

Our Techno Chalk is sourced sustainably - instead of digging up huge areas of land, the magnesium carbonate in Techno Chalk is extracted from seawater as a byproduct of desalination. During the process, mineral components are extracted from seawater. It’s an awesome process which is way more environmentally-friendly than mining chalk. It’s not perfect – it still uses energy for example – but unlike mining, the energy used can come from renewable sources. Plus, technology in desalination is improving all the time, making it more energy efficient as technology improves. What’s also really great is that the chalk is a higher grade of purity. This means a little goes a long way, so you won’t need to chalk up as frequently.

Better quality AND more environmentally friendly? You bet. 💪

Techno Chalk comes in a generous-sized plastic-free tube and it’s a chunky blend of chalk. It’s easy to transfer without making a colossal mess and the chunks break down easily if you prefer a fine powder.

It’s a really easy sustainable switch to make. On your next gym session, get a grip and chalk up sustainably. Just one more rep. You can do it! 💪

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