Mr. Sato shares an important lesson he learned about age and personal resolutions.

December 13 is a special kind of anniversary for Mr. Sato. It’s the day when he thinks, “Wow, it’s been another year.” That’s because December 13, five years ago, was when Mr. Sato took his first step inside a pole dancing studio. It was half on a joke, but one day turned into one year, and then two years, and now all of a sudden it’s been five years since he started pole dancing. Even he is surprised!

His pole dancing adventures started out as merely an exploration into exercise and movement, but it slowly became a part of his everyday life, and these days he goes to the pole dancing studio about three times a week. He started when he was 43 years old, and now he’s 48, and 50 is within his sights. Yet Mr. Sato can say that despite his age, he feels like he can do a lot more growing and can see a lot more possibilities for himself than he ever did before.

Mr. Sato has been candid with his pole-dancing experiences, and after five years, he believes he has some wisdom to impart. So, dear readers, here is what he would like to share with you from his experience as a 40-something-year-old pole dancer:

Learning to Grow at 48
By Mr. Sato

Last year, I thought it was the end of pole dancing for me. I hurt my shoulder, so I went to an orthopedic clinic and I was diagnosed with periarthritis of the right shoulder, which is an inflammation of the tissues around the shoulder joint, or, in other words, “the standard shoulder pain of your 40s”. It was a throbbing pain I felt every night when I got into bed.

I had to commute weekly to the hospital for rehabilitation to work on strengthening the muscles around the joint to keep it from getting worse. At the same time, I had to avoid any kind of heavy exercise. “Well, I guess I can’t hope for much,” I thought.

After 150 days of rehabilitation, the pain went away, but since my physical habits were one cause of the pain, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it came back one day. But still, I decided to continue pole dancing, focusing on small improvements instead of big gains. That way, I could keep doing it for a long time. That would be enough for me.

So I kept up my three-times-per-week practice sessions, which had basically become a part of my daily life before my injury. And, just like how snow can quietly pile up which each and every snowflake, I realized that I had been gaining lots of strength through steady, gentle practice. Suddenly I noticed that the skills and movements I didn’t think I could do before were ever so slowly becoming possible. For example, I never thought I’d be able to try doing the “Phoenix” again, a move where you raise your legs while doing a reverse spin. It had been one of the causes of my injury. But to my surprise, I recently managed to do it!

Where I had been a complete novice before, I now can even transfer strength into my hands and feet. When I looked back on the videos I recorded of myself, I could tell how much cleaner my skills had become.

I can even challenge myself with the more acrobatic moves that I was too afraid to try before! Somehow my gentle training has helped me reach a level where I can do so many more skills. It turns out I’ve actually improved a lot!

It might sound like an exaggeration, but I truly thought last year was the end. I thought I might as well just face the fact that I’m old, that I should just take the downhill track slowly from here, being careful not to hurt myself along the way. But my body, steadily strengthened in small ways, had other ideas. “What?” it seemed to say. “Stop talking like an old grandpa. We’ve still got lots to do.”

Well, that may be true, but I still can’t be reckless. If I hurt myself again, I could lose more than pole dancing.

Earlier this month the comedy duo Nishiki-goi won the top prize in the M-1 Grand-Prix 2021, a manzai comedy competition. They’re the oldest duo ever to win, and they’re about the same age as I am. It was nice to see them leave the younger groups in the dust. They gave me the courage to decide never to let age be the reason to quit something.

Even if you don’t get major results, even if nobody praises you, do the things you want to do. Just make sure you walk your path with determination. Don’t give up if you fail a few times; keep going. Because if you do, you should be able to grow and see new possibilities for yourself.

Don’t wait for next year. Start now.


Check out how much Mr. Sato’s skill at pole dancing has grown with his most recent pole dancing performance to “Ossan (Middle-aged guy)” by Taiiku Okazaki. He may not need anyone’s praise, but he deserves it nonetheless, don’t you think?

You can compare this performance to his first performance, just eight months after starting pole dancing. At the very least, you can see he has much more joy and confidence as he dances, which is something he learned from pole dancing last year. Maybe you can find inspiration from his story to try something you’ve been wanting to try, too!

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