Pensioner takes up pole dancing and is now beating 18-year-olds in competitions
One of the most terrifying things about being human is coming to terms with the fact that we are continually growing older. The clocks are constantly ticking, and every single day of our lives, every second even, we are gradually getting closer to the day we can legitimately call ourselves senior citizens.
It's scary because growing older inevitably means you'll have a lot more aches and pains and are more susceptible to developing other conditions. It also means you'll be less mobile, and will perhaps one day have to rely on a mobility scooter or a zimmer frame to get you from A to B.
However, there's no denying that some older people are physically fitter than others. These people defy age-related stereotypes and go on to prove that they have what it takes to excel in various sports and fitness activities.
And what better example is there than 67-year-old Greta Pontarelli, a pole-dancing pensioner who performs gravity-defying stunts and has won various competitions against women almost a quarter her age.
Take a look at some of her most impressive moves on the pole:
She's definitely not your typical performer, and in fact, she took up the hobby aged 59, so that she could ease the symptoms of osteoporosis, a bone-weakening condition which has plagued her family.
Greta, who performed in various countries, bagging herself all kinds of prestigious titles, said: “I want people to realize that age shouldn’t stop you following your dreams.”
She added: “I always hear, ‘I’m too old, too heavy, too this, too that,’ which I understand, because I’ve been there, too. But those are all just excuses.”
Although she competed as a gymnast when she was younger, Greta, of San Diego, California, did not have pole dancing on her radar until about eight years ago when she was browsing the web for exercises to help strengthen her bones.
After finding a YouTube video, she was immediately drawn in but had no idea where to find a class. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a leaflet landed at her door a couple of weeks later, offering a free session at a studio nearby.
Recalling her first class, she said: “It was difficult. I know I have that gymnastic background, but I hadn’t done it in years, and it’s not like riding a bike, where you can just pick up where you left off."
“I think the teacher assumed I wouldn’t be back, but there was something about it that had me hooked.”
It wasn't long before Greta began attending classes regularly, gradually building up her strength.
She added: “I’d celebrate those little victories to help motivate me.”
Watch as Greta impresses at the World Pole Sports Championships 2015:
Although she was improving with each class, she had not considered competing until she took part in the obstacle course game show, American Ninja Warrior.
“When it aired, the announcer on the show said I was the oldest person to ever attempt the course,” she recalled. “It got me thinking, ‘Where’s everyone else at?’ Before that, my only competition was with the mirror, but I knew the best way to get my message out there – that you’re never too old to follow your dream – was to start entering proper contests.”
At the age of 62, Greta took part in her first ever competition, taking to the stage in Los Angeles, where she competed against dancers as young as 18.
She continued: “People kept coming over to me like I was some sort of anomaly, and I realized there was nobody else in my age group doing this.”
Not long afterward, she entered the North American Dance Championships where she came second, missing out on the top spot by one-and-a-half thousandth of a point. She has since traveled to various countries and is the proud owner of five world champion titles. While Greta stresses the importance of “listening to her body”, she can still contort into incredible shapes.
“I can’t do everything I used to – at my age, you lose muscle memory fast – but I mainly do strength moves. That’s my signature,” she explained. “I can do deadlifts, the splits, a flagpole, where you hold your body out at a 90-degree angle from the pole, and a cartwheel that lands in the splits.
Her talents have led to her appearing on several TV shows and meeting many celebrities:
“When I perform, though, it’s more about the artistry and the story-telling. I leave a piece of my heart behind on that stage.”
Greta makes sure to record each session so she can watch it back and ensure she’s always performing to the best of her abilities.
“People do make a fuss of me because looking at me makes younger dancers realize that they have longevity, and can be competing for years to come,” she said. “I, too, get inspired by people older than me doing yoga or running marathons."
Greta wowed the judges at this year's World Pole Sports Championships:
“Now, in the pole-community, that glass ceiling has been broken. It’s no longer just the younger people winning championships. The limits of what people can achieve are being pushed all the time.”
There's no denying that Greta is an incredibly talented performer, especially when taking into account her age. She will be the envy of many pensioners with her undeniably enviable moves. We hope she continues to pursue this hobby for as long as possible.