Greta Pontarelli is 68 year old pole artist. She has won 8 World Pole Art and Pole Sport Masters Championships, all while in her sixties, despite being challenged with severe Hip Osteoarthritis. Her latest win was this February in Florence where she captured championship just months after a dual hip replacement.
Greta was born with a slight internal rotation of the hips, which, along with years of gymnastics, before they required spring floors, destroyed her cartilage. She fought surgery for years and sought alternative treatments which bought her time, but ultimately she had to move forward with total replacements for both hips.
As Greta prepared for her surgeries, she started working on her piece “Finding the Blessings in the Ashes.” It was based on the archetype of transformation that occurs in a forest fire which is needed for many sprouts to germinate and grow. This archetype relates to our lives and empowers us to use challenges as a thrusting block for growth. When Greta finished training on the pole, she frequently went into the forest to connect with the spirit of the trees so she could authentically tell its story. She watched the flames of the fire and spent time attuning herself to it. When Greta looked at the video of the fire choreography, she saw the fire but wasn’t feeling hot so back to the fire she went to fully capture its essence. She continued to visualize the choreography while in bed recovering from multiple surgeries. It was when she pushed through moments of pain that the transforming effect of fire came to life. Greta learned that challenges can be an unexpected gift.
So often we stop short of the finish line or give up when success is just around the corner. Many times we don’t begin because we believe what we want to achieve is not even possible. It is still a bit surreal to Greta that she has won 8 World Championships, because she almost gave up after her first class. She was somewhat discouraged because she couldn’t begin to get up the pole. It was after competing in America Ninja Warrior and learning she was the oldest person to ever attempt the course that her mission was set in motion. Greta thought “where is everyone else?” and was motivated to push through her self-imposed boundaries to give visibility to her message. Soon the stage became her platform and inspiring the lives of others became far more important than the medals.