Sixty-one-year-old Greta Pontarelli put her own spin on the term “upward mobility” when she took first place in the Masters Championship Division at the Southern Pole Championships (SPC) this month. She added a second place win in the Masters Artistic Division. Greta is currently the oldest professional pole competition champion in the United States.
This Temecula businesswoman, wife and mother of two, took her first pole class at the age of 59 with the idea of increasing her muscle strength and building bone mass to stave off osteoporosis.
After her first workout she was hooked on the healthy exercise the pole provided, as well as the opportunity for artistic expression it allowed. Soon she began choreographing a routine for competition. She says her best trick is to execute a handspring and go to a passé Iron-X on the pole, which demands extreme control and strong core muscles.
Kick-starting her athletic career earlier this year, Pontarelli auditioned for TV’s American Ninja Warriors and made it to the semi-finals. In May, she took second in the Masters Artistic Division at the Pacific Pole Championships in Los Angeles. In August, she landed a second place finish in the North American Masters Division at the Midwest Pole Competition in Chicago. For Greta, these wins were building blocks to her first-place victory this month at the SPC in Houston.
Knowing that the sport requires tremendous upper body strength to lift and hold her body perpendicular to the pole at times while demonstrating artistic technique with grace and agility, Pontarelli commits to a daily practice schedule. She is no stranger to strenuous training. In her youth, Pontarelli competed nationally as a gymnast and was named the Pennsylvania Floor Exercise Champion. In the 1980s she won national awards as a martial artist.
“Pole fitness can be very empowering for women as they will gain physical and mental strength,” said Pontarelli. “I hope to inspire baby boomers and others to exercise, eat wholesome foods and continually try to become the best they can become. My message is to never give up…keep challenging yourself. There is no better time to live the life that you would love to live than now.”
Amy Guion, Pole Sport Organization co-founder, host of the Houston event, said, “Over the past five years we have seen pole become one of the fastest growing sports in the nation. Congratulations to Greta Pontarelli for her first place win in the Masters Championships category.”
Visit AerialZen.com to learn more about Greta Pontarelli and her pole sport challenges.