[Felicity Nelson | Lawyers Weekly]

Michelle Shimmy was “very unhappy” in corporate law before she unleashed her hidden potential as a professional pole dancer.

Shimmy (pictured) started attending regular pole classes in Sydney to combat the misery of work eight years ago. She is now a world-renowned pole performer who has a number of Australian and international championships ‘under her belt’.

Shimmy told The Daily Telegraph that she felt like “a square peg in a round hole” in the ultra-conservative environment of corporate law.

“If my colleagues had found out I was doing pole, they’d have been shocked,” she said.

To avoid judgement, Shimmy would often sneak off to pole classes at lunchtime and tell her workmates she was at yoga.

“I wanted to keep it a secret so that I’d be treated professionally. I didn’t want my boss picturing me in a bikini and high heels, but somehow he found out anyway. But he didn’t let on. I didn’t tell my clients,” she said.

Shimmy said the sexiness, the heels and the cute little costumes were what drew her to pole dancing.

“I’d never found a work-out quite like it before. I’m not a gym person. For me, pole dancing was like gymnastics … combined with dance,” she said.

“Pole was really life-changing in that it taught me how to love my body, to appreciate it for all the things it can do, and to stop being at war with it,” she added.

Shimmy began work at a community legal centre and found the culture much more supportive; a few colleagues even came to watch her competitions.

She came to realise that pole dancing was her calling and quit law to found a dance academy with her sister.

The beautiful thing about pole dancing, for Shimmy, is its capacity to make women secure about their bodies.

“It’s incredible to see the transformation that occurs when women start to get stronger and see the incredible things their bodies can do,” she said.

Shimmy isn’t ready to trade back her stilettos for suits yet, but she isn’t ruling out returning to law.

“If I do go back, I’ll just have to find a firm that will let me wear sequins in the office,” she said.

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