“Ageless” profiles seniors who are pursuing their passions well into their golden years, from drag queen performances to competitive sports.
Greta Pontarelli has found her passion at 68 years old — and it just so happens to be pole art.
“When I’m on the pole, I feel euphoric,” she told In The Know. “The moment I grab the pole, I know if it’s going to be my friend … I like challenges and I’m going to prevail.”
Pontarelli has won eight world championships since she first discovered the art at age 59.
She said she randomly took a class because she felt like she had been spending too much time behind a computer.
“I thought, well, I’ll just do this every once in a while to keep in shape, but pretty soon you start mastering one little thing, and then you become addicted to it,” she explained.
At first, Pontarelli thought pole art was a lot like Cirque du Soleil.
“It was very fluid, acrobatic, strong — it really showed the human body taking itself beyond the limits that we usually think of,” she told In The Know.
Though Pontarelli used to be a gymnast and has always been naturally athletic, she tries not to show off when she’s on the pole.
“I might go up to the pole and say, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I can do this,’ and then I find my power and I say, ‘Pole, I have arrived,'” she said. “When I touch it I want to command that feeling that I have arrived at power, like I’ve become one with the pole now.”
When Pontarelli is competing, she’s often up against people who are 40 and 50 years old — they can’t make an age bracket for the 65+ crowd because she’d be the only competitor.
“Gosh, these kids could be my grandchildren,” she joked.
Pontarelli still manages to win, though. But that’s not what pole art is all about for her.
“I’m just so grateful for that opportunity to somehow, in some small way, inspire the lives of others,” she told In The Know. “I don’t think that there are any [older people] who have embraced it the way I have, and I plan to keep going as long as my body will allow me to keep going.”
If you enjoyed this story, you might also like reading about the world’s oldest cougar.
More from In The Know: