For Viviana Morales, age is just a number on her driver's license.
The 50-year-old is a first-time grandmother to 7-month-old Lucas and she practices and teaches pole dancing.
Pole dancing? Yes, “caña,” as the activity is known in her home country of Argentina.
“I started (pole dancing) because I was in a crisis,” Morales told Fox News Latino in a phone interview from Buenos Aires. “I had just separated from my husband and I wanted to break my normal routine.”
The year was 2007 and pole dancing was sort of a taboo in Argentina, a top criticism being that it was seen as an erotic dance objectifying women and not a sport or fitness activity.
There were only two places that offered classes and Morales took the gamble because she needed something different.
“In the beginning, what attracted me was that it was a change from the norm. I was in a slump,” she said. “And I was looking for something that would be fun – even if for an hour.”
And that is exactly what happened — and then some. She was 44 then.
“My body started to change for the better … I got stronger,” said Morales, adding that it was nothing like how skeptics portrayed it.
Eventually, the sport became a passion for Morales, and though for the most part self-taught, she decided she knew enough to want to share its magic with others in Buenos Aires.
Her first student was her daughter-in-law.
By the end of 2007, her class and a handful of others held a small competition. It was a rather informal, intimate gathering.
“There were so few us competing,” Morales recalled.
But then something happened. Pole dancing actually started becoming more socially acceptable. It took off and more competitions started popping up in Argentina, then spreading throughout South America.
By 2010, Argentina hosted the first Miss Pole Dance competition, a larger, structured affair that grew out of the first contest she had organized three years earlier.
Morales became the champion for Miss Pole Dance Argentina at 47, leading to take on other international competitions. She was a finalist in the Miss Pole Dance World competition in 2011.
“When I first started, we were about 15 people, and now we are easily 200 girls from all over,” she said. “Now you can see movements that you did not see before.”
Morales said nobody knew about her pole dancing for a while. At work people would ask how she was getting stronger and fitter and she would shy away from telling the truth, given the then still lingering societal stigma associated with pole dancing.
“I would say I was going to the gym,” Morales would tell them.
Her son Matías, now 27, was not entirely happy when he found out about her mother’s secret activity.
“I put a pole in my living room,” she said. “When my son came to visit and saw the pole he was not happy. He was a teenager … and we spent several years with him not liking it.”
She would take the pole and move it outside when her son’s friend would come visit, but after a while tension at home cooled down.
“At one party, I told him I was taking it down and he said no,” Morales said. “They took pictures playing on it and having fun and now he is the one that helps me chose the music for my performances.”
With her successes — and her age — Morales quickly became known as the “Grandma of Pole Dancing.”
She has expanded her skills from solely pole dancing to incorporating movements seen in the circus and bungee cords.
“Bungee pole dance is done when you attach a long bungee cord to the top of the pole,” Morales said, creating a fusion of both disciplines.
The grandma champ has also written a book, the first of its kind in Argentina, discussing pole dancing as a sport and focusing on the various aspects that comes with training.
“While talking with other teachers, we all had the same problems on how to teach everything,” Morales said. “It’s still something new and there are so many topics to talk about: Nutrition and physical and psychological aspects.”
She said the book, titled “The Practical Guide to Pole Dance,” looks to present pole dancing as an athletic discipline just any other involving athletes going through training and taking care of their bodies.
“I wanted people to go into a bookstore and find a book on pole dancing next to books on basketball or volleyball,” Morales said. “It was very well received by many people.”
One thing she emphasizes in the book is that pole dancing is a sport that can be fun — all people need is an open mind and willingness to give it a try.
“I know people who took a class and never let it go,” Morales said. “They had so much fun.”
Morales is preparing for this year’s Miss Pole Argentina competition in November, though she will not be competing — she will be the opening act.
“I have so much to do that I cannot practice three hours a day,” she said. “I am preparing for this year. It’s so great.”
Follow Lucia I. Suarez on Twitter @luciasuarezsang