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Size 18 woman dubbed “pleasantly plump friend” now feels sexy after taking up pole dancing

Struggling for years with an eating disorder, Nicola’s salvation came in 2017, after a counsellor suggested she tried pole dancing.

BODY

Dubbed the “pleasantly plump friend” at school, a size 18 professional told how she feels sexy for the first time, after taking up pole dancing.

Embracing her curves, tech developer Nicola Martin, 32, who has see-sawed between a size 12 at her slimmest to a size 18 now, confessed to “eating on depression,” especially when a significant relationship ended in 2016.

Struggling for years with binge eating, then purging, as well as being diagnosed with the hormonal condition, polycystic ovary syndrome in 2012, which can cause weight gain, Nicola’s salvation came in 2017, after a counsellor suggested she tried pole dancing.

 
 

The singleton, of Kineton, Warwickshire, who dances twice a week at Pole Sensations in her village, said: “I had just come to the end of a horrific relationship and I felt really bad about myself.

“Then a counsellor I was seeing suggested pole dancing to see how it made me feel.

“It’s something I had thought about for quite some time, but lacked the confidence in myself to do it.”

Nicola Martin struggled with an eating disorder for more than 10 years (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “I was very nervous at first, but the people were all really lovely at the studio. There were about 12 of us who started at the same time and everyone was so welcoming – it was a right giggle.”

Nicola, a graduate in accounting and financial management, includes veterinary nurses, doctors and police officers amongst her fellow dancers who, she says, like her, are using the activity to improve their body confidence, as well as their strength and fitness.

“You don’t wear a great deal of clothing for it and at no point does it feel like anyone is judging you,” said Nicola, who dances in high-waisted shorts and a sports bra, which she bought from a specialist pole apparel brand.

Nicola Martin was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome in 2012 (PA Real Life/Collect)

She explained: “You need more skin out for the poles anyway so you can grip. It makes it easier. You can’t get up the pole if you are wearing longer shorts.

“People do pole for different reasons. Some go for building up strength, some do it for exercise and some people do it for confidence.”

Nicola’s low self-esteem began in her teens, when other school children referred to her as the “pleasantly plump friend.”

 

“I think they meant well, but when I looked back at photos, I realised I was not even big,” she said. “It really affected my confidence.”

In her 20s, after following the Cambridge Diet, she dropped to a slim size 12, but when she ate normally again she piled on the pounds faster than before.

“I developed an eating disorder in my final year at Sheffield Hallam University, partly down to how I viewed myself,” she said.

Nicola Martin’s counsellor suggested pole dancing to try something new (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued: “It was years before I got it under control. I would try not to eat anything for as long as possible, then binge eat fast food or sweets and purge.

“Looking back at pictures at the height of my eating disorder, I really wish I had the mentality I have now. Maybe it would have stopped sooner. Instead, I struggled with it for 10 years.”

Then, in 2012, when Nicola was 24, a routine blood test led to a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal condition which affects one in five women in the UK, according to the NHS, and can cause irregular periods and weight gain.

Nicola Martin got into pole dancing after a therapist suggested it to her (PA Real Life/Collect)

“A lot of women who have it really struggle with their weight,” said Nicola, who did not want to reveal how much she weighs.

“My doctors never said I need to lose weight or anything. But I would like to be slightly slimmer – a comfortable size 16 – as I do worry about the risk of type 2 diabetes, as I’m overweight.”

Nicola finally sought help with her 10 year eating disorder and emotional difficulties after her relationship ended in 2016, when she went to see a therapist.

Nicola Martin took up pole dancing in 2017 and says it has changed her life (PA Real Life/Collect)

She said: “They suggested I tried pole dancing.

“It’s made me so much happier and I don’t feel like I need to be in a relationship to be happy. It’s changed my life.

“It’s also helped me develop some new friendships. Some of the people at pole classes are now my best friends.”

She continued: “I have one general class a week and one private lesson. One is static and one is spinning – so the pole spins in one and it stays still in the other. When it’s static, you have to find the momentum, which means having a whole body workout.”

While some of the upside down moves can be difficult for larger ladies, like Nicola, mostly size does not matter when it comes to pole dancing.

She said: “You need to be a little bit stronger than other girls. But I just enjoy it as an escape and as a hobby. It feels amazing.”

Nicola Martin struggled with an eating disorder for more than 10 years (PA Real Life/Collect)

Since she started pole dancing in 2017, Nicola has made it to the Kick Ass Curves UK final through a video entry – a competition for pole dancers who are size 16 and over.

And in just under four weeks, Nicola will be performing her specially choreographed routine to an audience in Derby at a theatre venue.

“It makes me feel beautiful,” she said. “Thanks to pole, my size no longer defines me and other people’s opinions do not define my worth. People at my office know that I do it and I’m not ashamed of it in any way.”

Nicola Martin was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome in 2012, but found a love of pole dancing (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “I will never be skinny – it’s not in my bone structure to be skinny – but I can still be proud of how I look.”

Nicola even runs the reception on some days at her pole studio, greeting newcomers and putting people at ease before their first class.

“I’m more confident, I’m happier and I will not let anybody treat me badly ever again,” she said. “I am comfortable with the way I look now, 90 per cent of the time.”