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‘3 things I learned when I started pole dancing at age 70’

Rachel Lapidos

Rachel LapidosApril 30, 2020

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Photo: Susan Skinner; Graphic: Well+Good Creative

Susan Skinner was 70 years old when she became passionate about pole dancing. The second she started having trouble getting on and off of the bus during her daily commute, she decided she needed to find some type of workout to do in order to regain her strength. After reading a health article in a newspaper about the strength benefits of pole dancing, Skinner thought she’d give it a go—and so she waltzed into a fitness studio that she’d soon feel was her second home.

Skinner felt an immediate connection to pole dancing after taking her first introductory class at Body and Pole in New York City. “I don’t know how else to say it, but it’s just really amazing,” says Skinner of the workout modality. Pole dancing isn’t your typical old workout, and that’s exactly what drew Skinner in.

“The most important thing about pole dancing is that it’s fun and out-of-the-box, which keeps me interested.”

“The most important thing about pole dancing is that it’s fun and out-of-the-box, which keeps me interested,” says Skinner. She’s been going regularly for over a year now, and has become quite a pro. “You know during the Super Bowl halftime show when J.Lo was on a pole and leaned back? I learned how to do that,” says Skinner, noting that she can do backbends, a headstand, and a move called the “waterfall” that involves hanging upside down and gripping the pole between your legs. You know, casual.

According to Skinner, the most rewarding part of being a pole dancing devotee isn’t necessarily her tricks, but her newfound strength and confidence. “It just feels so nice to be able to do stuff like that and to feel pretty,” she says. “I hope this buys me another 100 years.” Keep scrolling to learn more about what she’s learned as a pole dancer.

1. I’ve become more fearless, even outside of the studio

It takes a certain level of courage to get up onto a pole in front of others, as you would imagine. “[Pole dancing] might be unusual, but it’s helped me to be more fearless and to embrace change,” she says. “I’m doing things that I would never have guessed I’d be able to do in a million years.” In fact, Skinner has found that she’s more eager to try new things in other aspects of her life and to take more risks.

2. Stretching is the most important thing that I do

Skinner doesn’t just do pole dancing routines at the fitness studio—she does a lot of yoga-like exercises. “I take the Body and Pole Flex class almost every day,” she says. “It’s 90 minutes of really strong stretching and flexibility exercises, and I consider it to be the cornerstone of everything else that I do.” Flexibility, Skinner has found, is key to being able to move more easily while pole dancing.

3. Fitness gives you an incredible community

In the same way that you see friendly faces when you make it to that early-morning fitness class, Skinner says that group fitness keeps her continually returning for fitness classes. “What keeps me coming back is that it’s such a community—I’ve made so many friends,” says Skinner. “It has fundamentally changed my life, and I know that I’ll always have friends there.”

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