Age is just a number … or at least that’s what we’re told whenever we approach another birthday that has us pondering our legacy. But for the Sun City Poms, a dance troupe in Arizona where the youngest members are 55 and the oldest reach as high as 86, the old saying is a sweet reality.
Sun City, an active retirement community just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, was built in 1960. It’s a destination for seniors who have no interest in slowing down.
In fact, the community offers residents a selection of as many as 120 clubs to keep them busy. Options include high-energy activities like synchronized swimming, yoga, backgammon, racquetball and tennis.
The Poms formed in 1979 and were initially a group of cheerleaders for the Sun City Saints women’s softball team.
They’re now a performance troupe that practices two or three times a week for up to 10 hours. The group has an average of four to five gigs a month.
These gigs include everything from marching in the annual Fiesta Bowl parade to performances at civic events, senior centers, nursing homes and even high school pep rallies.
And they put on quite the dazzling performance:
In a video for “Today,” Ginger Price, 86, the oldest performing member of the group, explained the satisfaction they get from these shows — especially when they get to dance for the younger generations.
“It makes us feel like they respect us,” she told “Today.”
“They don’t look at us as just being old people sitting on a couch watching television.”
And how could they? These women are more energetic and limber than those who are 20 years their junior:
And the glory of the stage seems to have done many of them good, helping those with chronic health issues and giving every member a renewed lust for life.
In describing a signature Pom routine danced to the song “Hot Stuff,” in which each performer is introduced by her name and age, Pat Weber tells Senior Planet that when she was in her 70s, another woman in the group — who was 80 at the time — got huge applause.
“At that point,” she said, “I made up my mind I was going to stay in this group until I was at least 80 and the oldest one, so I could get that applause!”
Greta Paulson, the director of the group, spoke to VoyagePhoenix about the health-related benefits of being a part of the Poms.
“The challenges the Poms face are mostly related to age,” she said. “As we get older, we become less flexible, our memories become shorter, and our energy can diminish. However, being in the Poms offsets so many of those challenges. By staying active, we maintain our physical and mental health.”
And the research backs this up. One study shows that dance, regardless of its style, “can significantly improve muscular strength and endurance, balance and other aspects of functional fitness in older adults.”
Another report out of Australia describes mental health benefits, too.
Carol Dane, 73, the choreographer of the dance troupe, told “Today” how being a part of the Poms has changed the lives of so many.
“They’re enthused about life,” Dane said. “They’re not just sitting at home talking about their health problems.”
You can see the entire video from “Today” below:
Does their story inspire you to get out and move?