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Plus Size Woman Becomes Pole Dancing Champ After Local Gym Makes Her Feel Unwelcome

A size 18 champion pole dancer, who won countless national and international competitions, told how she only took up the sport after being made to feel unwelcome at her local gym.

Emma Collins began pole dancing in 2013 after claiming she was treated "like an outcast" by fellow gym members because she was fat.

The 33 year old from the UK—who says she is now happy with her shape—decided to explore other forms of exercise and found pole dancing after a friend suggested she give it a try.

Collect/PA Real Life

Emma—who works as a carer at a care home—was immediately hooked. Though her size initially made some of the acrobatic moves more difficult for her, Emma now trains up to 10 hours a week. She has competed at the highest level, claiming a string of titles to her name.

She said:

"People used to say that I didn't belong in a gym, that I was too big to be there. They made me feel out of place, but now I'm the one who is winning championships and traveling 'round the country doing the sport I love."
"I'm quite unusual on the pole dancing circuit because dancers tend to be small sizes and people are often surprised. But when they see me on that pole they are always amazed and are so encouraging."

Emma, who now regularly posts online videos and pictures of herself in skimpy outfits performing her energetic routines around the pole, added:

"It's given me the confidence to be happy about my size and realize that not everyone is built the same."
"In fact, I think I'm much healthier than some of the skinnier girls. I don't have to starve myself and I'm happy."

However, Emma admits she spent years feeling uncomfortable about her size and refused to weigh herself on the scales for fear of the number that would stare back at her.

Collect/PA Real Life

Emma, who has been overweight since childhood, also admits that she would feel "out of place" on nights out with her slimmer friends.

Attempting to fit in more, Emma tried all sorts of diets, from SlimFast to Weight Watchers, but found she couldn't stick to any and quickly became bored with them.

"I just couldn't keep up with them. It's too boring going on a diet. I love chocolate and I love chilli—those aren't things you can eat on a diet, so why bother?"

Collect/PA Real Life

Joining a gym also ended in failure . After just a few visits to her local gym, Emma claims she sensed such a barrage of negative feeling towards her because of her size that she no longer felt welcome.

"I would get funny looks from other gymmers when I was on the treadmill or one of the machines. Sometimes people would say something under their breath and it was all just quite unpleasant and made me feel like I shouldn't be there."

But when a friend suggested she join her at a taster class for pole dancing at Pole XS, she decided to give exercising another shot.

Collect/PA Real Life

Immediately, she knew she had found her calling, saying:

"I loved it from the off. It was really challenging to do some of the moves and spins, and I didn't realize how much strength was required but it felt like something I could work towards.
"I was the biggest girl there easily but everyone was really nice and encouraging."
"Five years on after my first lesson, I'm still going strong. The same can't be said for the friend who invited me though—she quit pretty quickly!"

Collect/PA Real Life

Given her weight, mastering some of the moves, especially hanging from the pole upside down, was tricky for Emma. She says she had to overcome the obvious difficulty of lifting her own weight as well as her reduced flexibility.

But she was determined to rise to the challenge and after being told by her teacher she had serious potential, Emma had three different poles installed in her bungalow where she lives alone so that she could practice as much as she liked.

It paid off and within a year Emma was already competing in major tournaments around the country, winning her first gold medal in 2014 at the European Championships.

Collect/PA Real Life

Her early success was followed up by a string of further victories at national competitions. Emma made quite a name for herself on the circuit, with other dancers impressed at her litheness in spite of her large figure.

A prolific social media user, Emma said:

"Now they all follow me on Instagram! They're just amazed at how I manage it!"

Pole dancing has become an increasingly popular sport and form of exercise over the last decade. It is no longer simply associated with strip bars and gentlemen's clubs.

Collect/PA Real Life

Emma, however, has no interest in the erotic side of the sport. She says that men are sometimes scared off when she tells them that she is a champion pole dancer.

She explained:

"I think they think it's a bit weird. I think maybe they think it's not the sort of think a woman like me should be doing."
"I don't think I could ever really make it a sexy thing, because for a start the high-heeled shoes make me look like a penguin!"

Collect/PA Real Life

Despite that though, Emma still thoroughly enjoys the aesthetic side of her hobby. She owns over 20 different outfits, all of varying colors and materials ranging from velvet to sequins.

Her exploits became so well-known that Emma is now also sponsored by an outfitting brand that provide her with as many costumes as she wants..

Keen to keep on dancing as long as she can, Emma set her sights on becoming a professional dance teacher and is about to embark on her teacher training qualification.

Collect/PA Real Life

Emma stated:

"I'm so glad to have found something I enjoy so much. That isn't so common, so I want to keep doing it for as long as I can and as much as I can.
"Size shouldn't hold you back. If you like doing something—do it."

A version of this article originally appeared on Press Association.

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When you know your kids backwards and forwards, this is the best tool in your arsenal.

Getting our kids to listen to us is not always the easiest of tasks. They're willful and stubborn, but we've got a mighty weapon they are rarely prepared for: reverse psychology. Getting them to convince themselves to want to do something against their own initial intentions takes some work and a whole lot of creativity, but a little sneaky manipulation goes a long way. Here are some clever parents' tricks that are definitely worth taking notes on.

Redditor u/LeanderD Asks:

Parents of reddit, what's your best example of reversed psychology on your kids that actually worked?

He Floated His Idea Through A Back Channel


Wanted to name my boat. Anything I would think of was dismissed as stupid by my 13 year old son. After deciding on a name, I confided to a male friend my son liked. Made my friend suggest the name as though it was his idea. My son thought the name was perfect. Done.


We Always Want What We Can't Have

One of my best friends through childhood used to be punished with no salad if she misbehaved. She cherishes salad now and would always try to eat as much as possible during school lunch. Coincidentally, her now husband used to be punished with no books, it had the same effect. I think it's hilarious that they'd be hitting the salad bar and library like some black market their narc parents couldn't reach hahaha.


A Deceit That's A Cut Above The Rest


Don't know if this counts, but, at my high school (private, boys only) in the 1960's, they made a big deal about how long your hair was, and would occasionally order a boy to go home and "get a haircut".

I thought it was stupid, until years later, a master confided to me at a reunion that the policy was deliberate. The school figured we'd spend so much energy rebelling about hair length, that we would ignore other aspects of teenage rebellion. (Not?) Surprisingly, they were mostly right.


Damn! That's smart. Wow.


Oh they don't like long hair?

I'll show them. I'll grow my hair out as lon- what?! No I don't want to go "party"? I gotta try out this horse shampoo.


The Forbidden Book

Hi I was a victim,

There was a forbidden book that I was not allow to read on the shelf. My parents said I could only read it if I behave myself.

It was summer holidays and I was playing games all day (after 6 hrs of summer homework). One day I was home alone and had the opportunity to grabbed it. I read like half of it in one go. It was 5000 years of Chinese history.

Safe to say I was bamboozled.


Flowers Of The Queen

My parents always told me my broccoli were the flowers of the queen and that I really shouldn't eat them, or else the queen would get very upset! I, of course, ate the whole broccoli in a few seconds.


I'm telling the queen and she's gonna be pissed


Sleeping Beauty


I taught my kids when they were toddlers that no amount of yelling, shaking or hitting can wake a sleeping adult. The only thing that works is a gentle hug and/or a nice kiss on the cheek.

Edit: Probably needed some more details for the reverse psychology aspect to be clear. It went something like this - Step one, tell the kids I'm going to sleep and nothing they do will wake me (head buried face down is the safest position). Step two, after the initial onslaught dies down pretend to awaken on your own. Tell them you got a bit of nap left in you and nothing can wake you, especially not hugs and kisses.


Holy sh*t...if my daughter woke me up like this I would buy her a pony.


I am saving this comment because this will save lives if I ever have kids, stg.


A Walk In Someone Else's Shoes.

Split custody with my ex. When my son was around 10, he visited two weekends a month. I was waiting tables and didn't have a huge amount to spend, but he was so needy from divorce (and I'm not blaming him, it was ugly), he begged constantly for MORE when he was with me. Whatever more was, it didn't matter... he'd be eating ice cream cone and begging for teriyaki.

I finally realized that he just felt empty, and getting MORE whatever from me wasn't filling him up. His next visit I handed him $100 in cash and told him it was our food/fun budget for 3 days and two nights, and he was in charge of it. I bought him his own wallet to carry. We figured out how many times we were going to eat and what we were going to do, and he paid. He got to keep whatever money he had left...thought he was rich...then realized just how much everything cost. Well. Shoe on other foot then. If we had no money for food, we ate leftovers - and I didn't contribute more to pot. After a few weekends of running short or not getting something he actually wanted because he was foolish with funds, he started to really think about how to spend that money. He budgeted and kept to his budget. And a few times he actually went home with a little cash for his private stash.

Many years later, he thanked me for this. It really changed the way he thought about money and love.


This Is Worth Giving A Shot

Took my 3 year old son to one of those doctor's visits where he was going to get a shot. He was worried about the shot on the whole drive over, almost to the point of tears. We get to the doctor's office and a nurse subtly lets me know that my son is not just scheduled for 1 shot, but 5 of them in the same visit.

I turn to my son with an exaggerated smile and tell him, "Good news! They figured out how to take that one big shot you were going to get and instead break it up into these 5 little tiny shots so it won't hurt nearly as much!"

You could see the relief wash over his face. He stopped squirming and relaxed completely. He took the first shot and even smiled and said "It's true! The small ones don't hurt!"

We actually made it through the third shot before the effect wore off and reality kicked in. Still... I counted it as a victory.


Put This To The Taste


My mom would tell me she only lets me eat soup after candy and she'd only buy me candy that i didn't like. After a few times, i stopped trying and begged her to let me eat soup first. She gave me a smirk and told me go ahead. This doesn't sound as evil as it was. But trust me i suffered.


So what was the candy?


Mint chocolate, raisins, stuff like that. I still hate them to this day. Who the f--- thought while eating chocolate "hmm id like some tooth paste with this."


This is Truckin' Awesome

Mum had sworn a bit around the house.

When 4, while out at the supermarket, I said F word really loudly.

Very quickly and intently, she asked if I had just said "Truck" and said that was a bad word and not to ever say Truck like that again.

I thought that was the bad word so used that when being naughty.


The "Silly Mom" Routine

The "Silly Mom" routine.

My kid, and a few other kids I've known, would balk at getting ready to go. I'd grab their clothes and say, "Well, if you won't put on your clothes, I guess I'll put on your clothes. Cute shirt, by the way! Does it go on my foot?"


"Does it go on my head?"


"Oh, that's right, thanks! So, it must go on your legs, right?"


"I just can't figure this out! Where does this adorable shirt go?"

[kid grabs shirt and puts it on] ON MY TUMMY! SILLY MOM!

"Oh, thank you so much! Now what about these pants? Shirts go on tummies, so...the pants go on the tummy, too, right?"


[continue until kids have dressed themselves]

I would also do things like hand the kid my keys and say, "Alright, you're driving, I'll sit in the booster seat in back," attempt to feed the kid by putting a spoon up to his ear or his belly button, and attempt to put away his toys in the refrigerator.


Some Foot For Thought.


My mum would always yell at us "if you don't do X, you have to go to bed without socks!"

I never wore socks anyway, and I'm ashamed to admit that this worked.


That would work really well on my son, or make him cry for a really long time... He's 3 and over the last few weeks has decided that he is fully unable to sleep without socks on.


Toddlers man. Completely unpredictable.


I'm Greens With Envy

My mum had a friend that would put vegetables on her own plate and not the kids.

When the kids asked she would be reluctant to share, "that's grown up food. But I suppose I can let you have a little."

Her kids grew up loving vegetables.

I sat at the dinner table for 3 hours staring at the yucky cauliflower I refused to eat.


This reminds me of an instance when my child convinced my wife and myself to change our plans for dinner. We were in a grocery store to pick up something quick and easy to eat that we wouldn't have to prepare. Our daughter, wanted none of that, she demanded that she wanted a salad from the salad bar. We started to argue back, but then realized: "Our child demands that we feed her vegetables for dinner instead of a microwaved meal, why are we saying 'No?'"

We had salad for dinner that night.


The Power Of Choice

I don't so much know if you would call it reverse psychology, but I didn't realize it until my dad told me this.

When there were chores that needed doing, he noticed if he asked me to mow the lawn, I would complain and procrastinate. But if he asked would I rather mow the lawn or wash the windows, I'd pick one and just get it done.

Shattered my brain when he told me when I was in my twenties. I use it when I'm coaching or baby sitting all the time and it almost never fails.


The Boy Who Cried 'Ouch'


I've done this one with tens of kids. Any time a kid gets "hurt" (falls down on grass, gets gently hit in the face with a ball, etc.) instead of stopping the activity to pick the kid up and see if they're ok you just scoot them off to the side and resume. Within 10 seconds of not getting all the attention and seeing the fun is resuming they pop right back up and are magically healed.

This of course is only for the "injuries" that aren't actually injuries.


Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images

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