“Aerial art has helped me develop muscles that support and take the pressure off my joints,’

At a time in life when people start making their retirement plans, 66-year-old, Southern California-based Greta Pontarelli thought different and leapt into uncharted territory – pole dancing.

The making of a pole-dancing champion

Fearing the onset of osteoporosis, which runs in her family, the then 59-year-old realised she needed to be active. Pontarelli, who has been a life coach for over 25 years, has always been flexible. But, due to the loss of cartilage, she couldn’t continue practicing gymnastics and martial arts on cement floors like she used to in her younger days. Giving up an active life wasn’t an option. While researching activities that strengthen bones, she stumbled upon pole dancing videos on YouTube. “I was impressed by the pole dancers’ artistry, strength and flexibility. I knew this is what I wanted to do,” says the world’s oldest international pole-dance competitor.

“Aerial art has helped me develop muscles that support and take the pressure off my joints,” she continues. “I have never competed against anyone older than me; my competitors are 18-year-olds who could easily be my granddaughters,” laughs the five times Pole Sports Masters Champion, who has also won 12 US Championships and 20 medals.

Her 59-year-old husband, Louis, a retired CEO, and her 26-year-old son Antonio, a musician/producer were a bit sceptical about whether she would enjoy it, but seeing that she loves it, they’ve been extremely supportive.

The challenges are many, the first, obviously is her age. Recovery time is much longer than for younger aerial artists, nonetheless, she has never considered giving up. “My hip issue is the biggest challenge. However, I prefer to turn obstacles into blocks for growth,” she says. “I work hard to bring more artistry and fluidity to my movements. The road turns left, you turn left,” advises Pontarelli who celebrates the little victories which give her a turn a tide.