Real Life

Pole dancing in his sixties! Meet the man turning heads with his talent

My hobby has changed my life
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Allan Reinikka, 62, from Rockhampton, Queensland, shares his story:

Walking into the studio, I was stunned by what I saw.

A muscular body spun around a pole before twisting upside down in one effortless movement.

Incredible, I marvelled.

As a newspaper photographer, my job sent me all over and I’d seen some crazy things.

But I’d never seen the level of athleticism and strength I saw at that pole dancing studio.

It was 2012, and a local woman had appeared on Australia’s Got Talent for her impressive pole dancing skills.

I was sent to get the story for the paper.

“G’day,” I said to the studio owner, Emma, as I plonked down my heavy camera gear and introduced myself.

“Welcome,” she smiled. “Let’s get to it then.”

Allan discovered a special talent. (Image: Channel 7)

Music blared as I scratched my beard and watched a woman twist into a bat-like pose on the pole.

“Wow,” I said.

“Come and give it a try,” Emma encouraged.

“Don’t be silly,” I laughed. “Pole dancing isn’t for me.”

A bloke’s bloke, I was more into motorsports.

Weeks turned to months and I kept seeing updates from the pole studio.

Then my colleague Tamara got involved and the peer pressure got the better of me so I booked a class.

Walking into the studio, I felt a pang of nerves.

Attempting to clamber up the pole, I soon realised I was nowhere near as strong or coordinated as I thought.

Despite that, I had an absolute blast and booked in for another session.

Soon, I was a regular.

Allan was a blokey bloke who enjoyed motor sports. (Image: supplied)

Over time, my strength grew and I could pull off moves I’d never imagined my body could do as a 50-year-old.

Occasionally, people would make negative passing comments about my hobby, but I didn’t let it bother me.

“Reckon you could do it? Come and have a go,” I’d respond, knowing full well they couldn’t … or wouldn’t.

Over the years, pole dancing has helped with my strength, flexibility and mobility.

It’s also boosted my confidence.

I’ve had my fair share of pole-related injuries.

Once, I fell on my head at a Christmas party trying to do a pole dancing manoeuvre.

I made an almighty thud and everyone looked over to me in horror.

“I’m fine,” I reassured them, chuckling.

Just my ego was bruised!

His strength grew. (Image: Tamara Mackenzie)

One day, I received an email from a producer at Australia’s Got Talent.

We’d love for you to perform in front of our judges, they said.

I was stunned.

I’d gone to the studio years earlier to photograph a woman who’d performed … and now it could be me?!

Undecided, I told my pole dancing friends Tamara, Corinne and Liz.

“You have to do it,” they encouraged.

So I decided to give it a go.

In October 2022, I was ready to perform for the judges.

My heart pounding, I walked out in front of the crowd of 1000 people, wearing my shorts and Bonds singlet.

I could hear the audience sniggering, but when the music started, I focused on my routine.

As I contorted my body, I could hear gasps and cheers from the crowd and my confidence grew.

Afterwards, I took a bow and couldn’t believe it when I received a standing ovation.

It felt sensational!

People were impressed. (Image: Tamara Mackenzie)

Following the performance, a journalist from a Finnish newspaper contacted me.

Since my heritage is Finnish, I agreed to do an interview.

Remarkably, a day after the story was published, I received a message on Facebook.

I think we might be related, it said.

After some research, I discovered my grandfather’s brother’s family back in Finland.

My grandfather had left them behind when he immigrated to Australia in the 1920s.

It was great to connect with family and I hope to visit them one day.

Pole dancing has been life-changing. (Image: Tamara Mackenzie)

Now, I share videos of my pole work to inspire others to try new things.

One video on TikTok received more than 10 million views!

Don’t ever let your age or physical shape get in the way of finding a new hobby that you love.

If it looks like fun, give it a go.

It might just change your life, like pole dancing changed mine.

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