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Woman Who Struggled For Years With Eating Disorders Learns To Embrace Her Body After Taking Up Pole Dance

Nicola Martin took up pole dancing in May 2017 (PA Real Life/Collect)

There are many ways to feel more confident and empowered with our bodies. This woman learned to embrace her body after taking up pole dance.

Tech developer Nicola Martin confessed to “eating on depression," especially when her relationship ended in 2016.

Martin struggled for years with binge eating and purging, as well as being diagnosed with the hormonal condition, polycystic ovary syndrome in 2012. She finally focused on her wellbeing after a counsellor suggested she tried pole dancing.

She dances twice a year at Pole Sensations in her village.

“I had just come to the end of a horrific relationship and I felt really bad about myself," Martin said.

“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)

“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," she added.

Martin is a graduate in accounting and financial management, but she loves that her community of dancers includes veterinary nurses, doctors and police officers amongst her fellow dancers.

“You don't wear a great deal of clothing for it and at no point does it feel like anyone is judging you," said Martin.

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

“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," she explained.

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

Martin's main concern was helping her self esteem grow. People commented on her weight since she was in high school.

“I think they meant well, but when I looked back at photos, I realized I was not even big," she said.

“It really affected my confidence. I developed an eating disorder in my final year at Sheffield Hallam University, partly down to how I viewed myself."

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

“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," she continued.

“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."

In 2012, Martin, was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal condition that 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 Martin.

Martin finally sought help with her eating disorder and emotional difficulties after her relationship ended in 2016, then started seeing a therapist.

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

“They suggested I tried pole dancing," she said. “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."

“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," she continued.

“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)

Martin 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.

Others are hoping to share the experience.





And in just under four weeks, she 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)

“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," she said.

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