60 is the new 16

I was standing at a bus stop recently when a lady got in line behind me. She put down her bags and began twisting her arms from side to side.

With the grace of a gymnast, she raised one of her legs onto a metal railing at least three feet high. With her leg still propped up, she bent toward her foot, her chin nearly touching her ankle.

Did I mention she looked like she was in her 60s?


The vitality of China’s elderly population never ceases to amaze me. Nearly every day I see someone twice my age chasing their grandchild at a park, practicing tai chi or — like the woman at the bus stop — performing stretches that many athletes would have a hard time doing.

In spring 2012, a 60-year-old woman in Nanjing who took up pole dancing to overcome a health ailment made international headlines. I met Sun Fengqin, dubbed the “Pole Dancing Granny”, and her husband when she came to Beijing in May for an interview with a Chinese television station. My girlfriend had interviewed her for a story, and Sun wanted to meet us while she was in Beijing.

Sun had a figure that many 30-somethings would be envious of, and possessed a youthful energy that came across as we chatted over lunch. She invited us to visit her hometown, but just not in the summer, she added, because it’s way too hot and humid.

I might take her up on it. Sun has obviously discovered something about the fountain of youth. And If it turns out the key to staying fit is to dance from a pole, then a-swinging I must go.

2 thoughts on “60 is the new 16

    • I was hiking a mountain near Beijing earlier this summer when a man who looked like he was probably in his 70s passed me. He wasn’t wearing shoes or a shirt. I’m in decent shape, but this guy was super fit for his age.

      Thanks for reading.


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