Pole dance is for everyone, wherever you are at with your level of strength, flexibility, or your shape. Everyone has different weaknesses and forces, and as a plus size dancer with almost no sportive background, I faced challenges that my thinner friends didn’t experience.
Let’s cover those 10 things I would have loved to know before I started as a plus size pole dancer, although it never prevented those badass pole dancers below to kill it!
1 – You will (often) be one of the only plus size students in the class
Unless you have dedicated plus size classes around you (and let’s be honest, this is pretty rare), this will probably be true for a lot of you. That being said, it should never stop you, because the reality is that no one in a pole class will ever judge you for your extra love handles. And even if you’re struggling with your body image like me, you’ll learn to overcome that, I promise! This is the first step for so much fun, that would be too bad to miss that, isn’t it?
I stood in class, giant shirt on to cover the belly I was ashamed of, and felt out of place as the six-pack-sporting instructor went over an aerial trick. While no one in the class said it (you know, everyone is very nice), I couldn’t help but think everyone in there was looking at me thinking, “What the hell is this chick doing here? And why is she so stupid, signing up for a class she has no business in?” I was the only one in my class who looked like me and not another girl in there was even within spitting distance of my weight range.
It didn’t stop me, thankfully. I really do love learning more about pole and felt compelled to keep going.
Aileen George, a.k.a Ms. Vegas
Participant of America’s Got Talent 2017, Winner of the Voluptuous Vixen Pole competition 2017 | IG | FB | YT | Twitter
2 – You may struggle starting from the warmup
With a nonexistent sportive background and a curvy body, a simple warmup can turn into a nightmare. Between the bootcamp-like training, and the morphologic difficulties when your boobs, hips or legs get in the way and forbid you to breathe freely… here’s my advice: do as much as you can at your own pace and don’t hesitate to talk to your teacher. You want to know the best part? It will get easier with time, and you will soon start your pole class ready to kick-ass!
I had to hold my boobs and gasp through jumping jacks (which is still a thing to this day!); I couldn’t do drills as fast; I was that obnoxious person who always had to ask for a modification and stumped the instructor with the question “Well… what if all this is in the way?” It’s funny because my career is in special education, so I dedicate my life to modifying and accommodating things to be more accessible. In pole, I was the recipient of my own little plan and modified versions of things so I could access the class.
Aileen George, a.k.a Ms. Vegas
3 – You will have a hard time finding nice pole clothes
We already talked about it in a previous article. Finding these nice outfits that are comfortable, cute, with enough coverage AND affordable seems like an endless treasure quest. But don’t be discouraged: more and more companies realize the increasing demand for cool, sexy, sportive apparel for voluptuous bodies.
Our bank account may not thank them, but at The Unicorn, we deeply do!
It was always difficult to find fashionable plus size pole fitness clothes that were comfortable and fit true to size. That’s why I decided to create Curvy Fit – a brand that would be a one-stop-shop for plus size pole athletes. A place where they could get all of their pole essentials and be able to trust that the items are quality, fit well, are comfortable and affordable.
Founder of Curvy Girls Pole and creator of Curvy Fit Apparel | IG | FB | YT | Twitter
4 – It will take more time for you to climb…
Your arms are sore but damn it, you can’t lift yourself up, while you can see your thinner friends already up the pole! Your mood starts to be as blue as your legs. Even if you have the same base of muscle as anyone else, you have to lift more. You will need more time and patience to build the necessary strength to pull yourself up. So be nice with yourself, Unicorn, and remember that all journeys are unique, just like you!
It took me a lot longer to gain the strength needed compared to others, but I was also the only plus size person at the studio. It took me a year and a half to climb to the top of the 12 ft poles, thus creating my name (edasclimb). It was hard because I wanted to do crazy tricks like everyone else, but over time what mattered was if I was happy with my progress.
Manager at Pink Lemon Studio, CEO at Eda’s Climb to the Top and Brand Ambassador for Poleform | IG | FB | YT | Twitter
5 – …and to invert
Yes, it gets even harder when you are expected to put your nice sweet butt above your head. Whatever you try, it seems to be attracted to the ground on its own free will. How not to feel discouraged?
Good news: pole dance is so much more than inverted tricks! There are so many things to explore, to play with, to have fun at, to dance on… And with all this fun, you will build the strength to unlock these nemesis moves.
I still haven’t inverted, but it honestly isn’t even on my radar. I just want to feel beautiful, strong, sexy, and confident in me because I’ve never actually really felt that.
I would soon become a Saturday regular. My moves finally got better… I shed a lot of clothes (because you need your pole meat)… and then came a climb…. then an invert… then a shoulder mount… then a HANDSPRING!
Zachary Grays, a.k.a. Twinkle Toes
Sassiest male poledancer alive | IG | FB.
6 – Some moves will feel easier for you
Yes, you read me well! It can’t be only bad sides, can it? These extra love handles will make a few of your friends pretty jealous! The Seat and other gripping moves will be a bit easier thanks to your extra padding. While our thinner counterparts need to press their legs or armpits together hard to have enough grip on the pole… We don’t have much trouble to stick to it.
But… it will still hurt, sorry!
7 – You will always amaze people around you
No one will expect you where you will be, and they will be awestruck by all the amazing things you can do. And soon, your size will be forgotten. For those who still don’t get it, just offer them to follow you on your pole journey. They’ll soon have just raw admiration for you. Yes, you can shine all you want, Unicorn!
I like to tell people what I do as they are shocked because of my size. Producers asked me to go on Britain’s Got Talent after seeing a video of me, it was crazy. Simon Cowell said I was really good. David Walliams said it didn’t matter about my size at all.
Owner at Emma’s Pole Dancing, participant of Britain’s Got Talent 2014 | IG | FB | YT | Twitter
8 – All successes, as small as they may seem to others, will feel huge to you
While climbing, inverting and other moves may be simple checkmarks for our thinner friends, they are challenging goals for us. You will know better than anyone the hard work and dedication it took. So fully enjoy these victories: you’re a fucking badass!
While smaller friends were progressing in a matter of months, it took me years to do the same things; when I did get those fancy things, it was a holiday like my heart had never felt. To all the big kids in class — KEEP GOING!
Roz the Diva
Body & Pole instructor, founder of Dangerous Curves competition | IG | FB | YT | Twitter
9 – You will start to see your body for what it can do, instead of how it looks
This is definitely the best part of starting pole dance, especially when struggling with body image. Very soon, when you will see all the awesomeness you can do, you will measure the progress made. Your body is lovable and lovely, so celebrate it, love it, take care of it… It will always be your best friend!
Watching my body transform, not just in size, but in strength and capabilities, allowed me to fall in love with myself – every curve, lump, stretch mark, roll and every bit of cellulite that adorns my plus size body because what I was able to do with my body outshined all of its imperfections.
10 – You are not alone
What I did not understand until recently is that I was not the only crazy plus size person to join the pole world with enthusiasm. In fact, there were already many incredible, inspiring and awesome badass women and men who paved the way for me, showing me that I could also be proud of my pole journey!
With Roz the Diva, we created a group on Facebook called “Celebrating Plus Sized Pole Dancers,” and I am amazed every day by the strong and beautiful polers who share their triumphs with us.
Lori “lolorashel” Myers
Brand Ambassador for Artista Apparel, co-Founder of NCPP, owner of Confessions of a Twirly Girl | IG | FB | YT | Twitter
A huge shout out to the awesome pole community which helps us feel empowered and love our body for what it is: a vessel for our journey to pole happiness!
The last word:
Let me be perfectly clear that I’ve always been innately aware that I’m a Glamazon. The Baddest of Bitches! I would however be remiss if I didn’t attribute Pole with making me feel even more powerful and love my body more. Being fat in fitness is somehow still taboo and, in many ways, an act of rebellion. And it can honestly be scary if you can’t find the right support. I’m a dynamo, solid brick house serving you BODY ODY ODY on the pole. I’m here! And my representation is important as f*ck. There is strength, love, and power in perseverance!
Zachary Grays, a.k.a. Twinkle Toes
And you, plus size Unicorns, what were your challenges when you started pole dance?
Special thanks to:
Roz the Diva, Eda Marbury, Jada Hudson, Emma Haslam, Lori Myers, Twinkle Toes and Ms Vegas who accepted to share their thoughts with us, along with the Curvy Girls Pole and Celebrating Plus Size Pole Dancers communities, full of awesome kicking-ass women: you all inspired this article and motivate me every day!
Title pic: Jada Hudson by Sherry Scipio