One of the reasons I enjoy pole dancing is that it’s a sport anyone can excel at. Whether you are old, young, small or large, the sport of pole dancing is accessible to you.
That being said I need to honor the fact that I’m 47 not 27. While I own and am proud of my age I need to keep it real. Life is different at 47, not necessarily harder, but definitely different. Pole dancing in your 40’s (for me and most others) is not the same as pole dancing in your 30’s or even your 20’s. I’ve found there are some challenges and issues with pole dancing at an older age and to ignore them and pretend they don’t exist doesn’t work. Instead I’m choosing to embrace those differences, embrace those challenges and learn how to enjoy and continue pole dancing at any age.
I really wanted to see what poling at an older age looked like for others and how it felt for them. I wasn’t just interested in how their bodies responded. I also was curious about the emotions and the journey taken as well. I decided that it was important to have a conversation with other older women and men in order to get their take on pole dancing, figure out how they handled changes in their body, attitude and goals, and what pole dancing at a more mature age means to them.
As pole is a relatively new sport many of the people I spoke with started at an older age. I didn’t start poling until around 2005 when I was 37. Some people started pole dancing to get in better shape:
“My wife has bugged me to get fit for 30 years and I always had an excuse not to, until I couldn’t reach my feet to put my socks on. A family friend told us she was involved in choreography for a pole show at king kings so I asked my wife ‘Do you care if I pole dance in a class?’ She said as long as she can come too , and we began our pole journey.” ~James Flury, The Cowboy Pole Dancer, started poling at 50
“I was having blood pressure problems and hated the gym. I was driving around and saw a sign for pole classes. It was love from then on. It’s helped with my blood pressure and stress problems as well as bringing back my sensuality which I had forgotten about. I do notice I tend to get injured easier as I get older and take longer to recover. I also tend to go more toward dance than tricks since I feel like I might hurt myself. Maybe being older puts me more in touch with my mortality…I’ll keep on poling though!” ~Valerie Wear, started poling around 39
Others started pole dancing on a whim and with no background in dance or gymnastics:
“I started pole sport classes 2 years ago at the age of 51 after seeing a pole sport demonstration at an open studio event. I find pole dancing to be empowering and rejuvenating…My biggest challenge is finding a pole outfit/costume that I am comfortable enough to compete in. I find it frightening to step out on a stage wearing barely any clothing!) ~Lisa Agliano, 53 yr old pole dancer
“I started poling 7 years ago, with absolutely zero background in trained dance or gymnastics. It continues to be an incredible source of empowerment for me–I’m still amazed every time my body pulls off a move I thought was impossible. It has shown me depths of strength, passion, commitment, and beauty I never imagined I had inside. As the industry changes and talents progress in exponential leaps and bounds, I’m happy to continue to have a role coaching and inspiring new dancers–and am proud to be called “pole mama” by some amazing dancers!” ~Ellen Kaplan Lovelace, 45, instructor, nutritional therapist & co-producer of Northern California Pole Presentational
There are times when it is hard to be an older pole dancer in a class full of younger women and men. We may feel that we can’t keep up, that we are too old to pole, that the younger students or instructors don’t “get” us, or that we could easily get hurt. Sometimes it’s our own self doubt that’s the culprit. Learn to quiet your inner demons with the fact that “You Are A Pole Dancer”. Not many people, old or young, can say that! Other times it’s our bodies that won’t get with the program. Finding a happy balance between training and over training is an ongoing challenge with any sport but we need to remember honor our age. Learn to train appropriately, get enough sleep, and don’t push things too much while also not giving up too easily.
“My challenges and tips for older polers are one and the same: training smart. My joints won’t let me push as hard or as long as someone half my age, so I set boundaries and honor my body’s messages.” ~Ellen Kaplan Lovelace, 45, instructor, nutritional therapist & co-producer of Northern California Pole Presentational
And while everyone seems to agree that there are certain physical challenges, for example our bodies do not recover as quickly as they used to or gains may take longer, everyone I spoke with felt passionate that pole dancing kept them young and enriched their lives.
“Life is an adventure, especially if you are open to trying new things – like pole dancing! January 2011 I started to pole dance at age 57. My family thought I was crazy, that I was ‘too old’, that it had a bad reputation, that I would get hurt, and my husband said, ‘You’re going to drive me to drink!’ Now, almost 5 years later, they are all enthusiastic about this activity.
What have I experienced? That I am stronger, more flexible and my balance is much better than at any time in my life. That good friendships of women and men of all ages, from all different backgrounds, are a very enriching part of my life. That if I believe I can do something, and visualize it happening, it probably will happen. That my long-time belief in ‘aging is optional’ is mostly true. And so much more it would take me another lifetime to share it. Growing up in North Dakota, I did a little high school gymnastics but no competitions. Although I do a little social tango, my dance background is not much at all. What I do have is a willingness to try different related activities, which have helped me to go on to do pole dance performances and competitions, locally, nationally and internationally. I also teach workshops, my specialty being splits. My advice is to believe in yourself, have confidence and don’t limit your potential. Try lots of new things – at any age!” ~Mary Caryl Giltner Serritella, 1st place 2015 Pole Sports Championships USA – Masters 50+, 2013 Winner National PSO for Dramatic Level 3 (matser)
“It’s the most empowering workout I’ve ever done, and it also NEVER bores me. It has helped me shape my own personal mantra: I’m not going down without a fight.” ~Judy Jovanelly, owner of The Girl Spot, began poling at age 50.
“My journey with pole has been a long but wonderful one, spanning almost 20 years. At my age staying attached to that pole means something different than it did when I began. Now it is about holding on to my youth, as long as I can. The feeling pole gives is explainable, but we don’t have that much time! I feel young, invigorated, challenged and fulfilled. Challenges are appearing daily that I never considered, my body does not recover as easily, but my mind and drive remain the same! Pole is my Pillar of Youth. As long as I can stand beside it, dance around or on it…I am young.” ~Alena Downs, age 45, owner Pole Junkies
“I started poling when I was 45. I wanted to get back in shape but the gym bored me to tears so when I found a living social deal, I gave it a go. My body is not as resilient as it once was, but through pole I’ve become stronger, more flexible and healthier than I was in my 30’s. Every once in a while, I wish I had discovered pole in my 20’s and imagine what I could have accomplished back then, but the fact is that I didn’t, it wasn’t what it is today and I believe that everything in life happens when it’s supposed to. Not only has pole helped me stay in shape, but it’s also become an incredible creative outlet and a way to give back to the world. I love teaching more than just about anything else I’ve done in my life! Between teaching and performing, pole has brought me the fulfillment I didn’t know I was looking for!” ~Arloa Reston, instructor & performer who will be turning 50 in March
For me, pole dancing & aerial arts are a life journey. There is an ebb and flow to my practice and it’s not always about age. Sometimes it’s about the fact that at 47 I am more comfortable in my own skin than I was in my 20’s. My need to impress is lower and the “not giving a rat’s ass” quotient is higher. Sometimes it’s about the lack of sleep I had, the really cool move on that YouTube video that was floating around that I need to nail, the boy that I was madly in love with in grade school or the person who’s hurt rocked me to my core years ago. It’s really not about age, but about life. My pole journey at this older age may be a little more bruised or slightly more sore than someone younger, but it’s real, it’s mine and I’m looking forward to nurturing and honoring it way into the future.
* Are you an older poler? What does pole dancing mean to you at an older age? Is there even a difference? I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings – share them with us here!
-Love & Glitter
*previously on Bad Kitty USA News 2015…we’re all older now :)