By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans

A GROUP of acrobatic pensioners are refusing to let age or arthritis cramp their high kicks in a cheerleading squad for the over 50s

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Videographer / Director: Dave Cruz
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Grant Hanson-Vaux

The Arizona-based troupe is a marching and performance group for women over 55 - with an average age of just over 70.

While plenty of women use retirement as an opportunity to rest on their laurels, these dancers are glittering and shaking into their twilight years.

One of the newest Poms, Gloria Tolla, a longtime sufferer of osteoarthritis, joined the troupe 18 months ago to breathe life back into her aching joints.

The 67-year-old said: “What inspired me to join was my love for dancing. I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis when I was in my 20s, they told me I’d be crippled by the time I was in my 40s.

“So, all my life I’ve pushed myself by exercising, finding things to do, dancing was one of them. I had both hips done within a year before I joined the Sun City Poms.

“My first practice, I thought I was gonna die! The practices are quite gruelling, especially the choreographer.

“It gives me change to express myself, since I retired I’ve been looking for something to do and this is my little niche that I found. It makes me feel young again.”

In their sparkling blue and silver sequinned costumers, the Sun City Poms perform around 40 times a year at various sporting events and parades.

Veteran Pom and Teaching Instructor Ruth Pharris, 71, said: “The first I had ever heard of the Sun City Poms was about ten years ago and I was watching the fiesta bowl parade on TV.

“This group came on marching with their glittery costumes, their arms going every which way, and doing their routines. And I thought, ‘Holy cow, I’ll never be able to do what they do’.”

Seven years later the veteran Pom has gained boundless confidence and become the troupe’s instructor and choreographer.

She said: “I have probably lost 15 pounds, my waist declined because I was doing so much more activity that I had never, ever done before. Not only does it help the physical wellbeing, but the mental as well.

“The crowds are awesome - they are so in awe that we do what we do, they’re just amazed that their grandmothers, basically, are getting out there on the dance floor in our little sequin costumes.

“Being a Sun City Pom has given me so much confidence that I didn’t have before.”

The Poms start practicing twice a week in early September to prepare for the year’s performances. Their last performance was a glitter filled march at the Billy Moore Parade in Avondale, Arizona.

Greta Paulsen, who has been a Pom for five years, is the group’s Director and continues to thrive on the thrill of performing.

The 69-year-old said: “I love to perform, I just love to see people’s faces and their reactions. I feel a fulfilment, and I feel such contentment that I’m able to do this.”