cleaning the bars

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Feb 23, 2009
Just wondering about cleaning bars?

Do the bars in your gym get cleaned?

How are the bars cleaned?

I've never really ever seen bars free of chalk before. I was visiting a gym last week, and the bars were totally free and clear of all chalk - they were also wet....when i asked a parent about it, she told me that she thinks that the owner cleans the bars...and that they try very hard to keep their gym clean...I was confused... I've always heard that chalk is used to prevent slipping...if there is no chalk on the bar, and the bars are wet (or moist), wouldn't the gymnast have a greater risk of slipping???

just wondering if/how/when everyone cleans the bars and what you use to do it?

dr. coach
I never thought much about it, until a read in a thread (hear on CB), about how many gymnasts spit:spit: on their hands when they have rips. That just grossed me out:crazy:.
Why on earth would anybody clean a bar?

that's my question...exactly.

Would that make the bars unsafe for the gymnasts? And wouldn't "washing" the bars damage them in some way?

I have never (in my years as an athlete and now as a coach) ever heard of "cleaning" the bars. I find it almost appalling. Actually, our gymnasts use lots of chalk...water on their grips...but they never spray the bar, only their grips.

I just wonder if doing so would damage the equipment? I can only imagine that working on a damp, moist, or freshly wiped down bar would be extremely difficult and possibly pretty dangerous...

I was visiting the gym where my niece trains during open gym. She was allowed to bring me into the training area to show me some of her skills because i am certified through usa gymnastics. Anyway, she wanted to show me her giant. We went to the bars, they looked weird to me...I asked her if they were new. She told me "NO"...I touched the bar, it was wet...At that point, i told her to show me her giants another time - figured it's not safe to swing on a wet bar..:p

just wondering if there are gyms out there that clean the bars...if the bars would be damaged if wet, etc...

Wondering because i'd like to tactfully let the gym owner know if the situation is unsafe for the gymnasts training in their gym...since i do not coach there, perhaps my sister can relay the information..either way, they need to know if the bars are unsafe...(if their cleaning of the bars is damaging the apparatus, or...) ;)
Gymnasts who don't use grips sometimes prefer bars with less chalk (if chalk is caked onto the bar, it's a rougher surface to hold onto), and I've seen gyms spray the bars (makes chalk stick better, similar to spraying grips), but I've never seen a totally wet and/or wiped-down bar. I have to say, the gym that cleans the bars is a gym that I'd never go to; I am a chalkaholic!
I used to coach at a park district, and every week the cleaning crew would come in and do that to the bars. It was so frustrating, and we had to put signs on the bars, in different languages asking them not to clean them. Will it hurt the bars, no. Could a gymnast slip, yes. Some countries use honey, and all sorts of different liquids on the bars. I don't think that it is a good idea to clean them. And since most gymnasts in the US use grips from level 7 on, having no chalk and using grips is not a good combo. That said, maybe you should say something to the owner. Or at least find out his/her reasoning.
if chalk builds up and sticks to the bar it could cause more friction and be uncomfortable. Some of the girls that do not use guards/grips complain about the rough surface of the chalk build up. We use velcro to get some of this off. It seems to work. We have never 'washed' the bars with water or anything.
So this gym may be one of the few in the country that cleans their bars which is probably not the smartest thing to do. They did take the dumb factor 1 step further by having an open gym with the bars being wet!!! Just hang up a sign---Lawsuit wanted. Glad you gently asked your niece not to show you her giants that day!
We always used to spray water in the general direction of the bars to the chalk would stay on better or sometimes use a dry cloth to wipe some of it off if it got really mockitt, but I've never heard of wet cleaning it...
that's my question...exactly.

Would that make the bars unsafe for the gymnasts? And wouldn't "washing" the bars damage them in some way?

My thoughts +2

Being a woodworker, we know that wood & water are staunch enemies. This is why we apply a finish to wood. To prevent water, oils, and moisture in general from being absorbed by the wood. Water sprayed on hands or grips -- then chalk works better. Water will raise the grain - risking splinters, but also deteriorate the veneer much much faster. IIRC, most FIG approved bar's aren't solid wood, but rather a fiber core with a hard-maple veneer. That Veneer is only about 1/32 to 1/40" thick.

At our gym, they use 180 grit sandpaper to "clean" the oils (from perspiration mostly) off the bars. Even then, it's pretty rare.
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at our gym, bars are cleaned off with a clorox solution whenever any blood has gotten on it and 1 of the coaches immediately gets the solution and cleans it off before anyone else uses the bars.
When the bars need to be cleaned, the coaches will scrape them off with a grip-brush type of thing. I actually think it might be a toilet brush. Sometimes we will get rough patches on the bars because everyone puts their hands in the same place and chalk will build up unevenly. I think if we get blood on them they just spray bleach on it.
Occasionally we will scrape away cake buildups of chalk when it gets out of hand.

OTOH, I have the inverse problem of our men's bar doesn't have enough chalk on it because its used as the strap bar by the optional girls. Every once in awhile we ping or slip while swinging on it at random occurrences.
Why on earth would anybody clean a bar?

Here's why.
Many years ago when I was coaching, I frequently witnessed this scenario:
A little kid standing in line would wipe a long strand of yellow snot hanging from their nose and before I could stop him or her, would reach up and grab the bar.
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