Get ready to be seriously inspired by plus-size pole dancer and fitness trainer Roz "The Diva" Mays
In her own words, pole dancer and fitness trainer Roz "The Diva" Mays is where she is today by way of a miracle. "If you'd have told me during that first pole-dancing class..." (which, she adds, kicked her ass completely) "...[that] I would eventually be leading classes of my own all around the country, and would have ended up on TV four times doing this, I would have slapped the shit out of you," she laughs.
We'd take a guess that Mays' boundless energy has something to do with her quick rise to success. Eight years after her first pole-dancing class, Roz has created an entire career and lifestyle around what was just supposed to be a hobby. In addition to the private and small-group workshops she leads at studios around the country, she has started her own fitness training program and produced Dangerous Curves, the first pole-dancing competition specifically for plus-sized dancers. "I absolutely love this weird-ass lifestyle," she proudly declares.
When asked what's next for her, Roz doesn't hesitate: "I’m on a campaign to get Beyoncé to have me in one of her videos—actually, not videos, I want to be in concert. I want to be live." Other than that, she hopes to keep doing what she's already doing. It's what she loves most, after all. "Fame and fortune, all that stuff is cute," Roz says, "but I just love teaching that much. I just want to teach."
Scroll for more from Roz—and to see her in motion at IncrediPole studios in Brooklyn, NY.
"The first thing I make sure all my students know is that I don’t care how much you mess up. When you come and work with me, it’s not about how good you are right now. If you knew exactly what you were doing and you were great at it, I would be unemployed, and you wouldn’t need a teacher. The first thing is to chill. The second thing is: Form is Jesus."
"I don’t care how fast or how slow you go. It doesn’t matter, unless you’re doing the movements correctly. That’s really important. For newer students and newer classes, I take an extra few minutes to explain what muscles we’re using and why it actually matters. That way, you’re not just doing mindless movements...you see that there’s a purpose behind it."
"Teaching is the most amazing thing to happen to me in quite a while. I will ride or die for my students so hard. I am that overly excited, ridiculous cheerleader — so loud, so happy-for-no-reason kind of teacher. I love it. I’ve taught men, women, I’ve taught every religion, age, race, sexual orientation, all that."
"Every single person is welcome in my class. When I see my students excelling, even if it’s in the smallest of small ways, [there] is no greater feeling of pride and of love."
"I’m that teacher that’s going to pause in the middle of class and say, 'Everyone, drop your weights, go to someone you’ve never met, give them a high-five, and compliment one of their muscles.' As cornball as that is, I see people on Facebook saying, 'I woke up feeling awesome because someone said I have awesome calves,' and that’s when I’m like, I’m keeping all this cornball shit. It works, and it makes a difference."
"Pole has been tremendous in helping me heal all the atrocities that I put upon myself. I spent the first 27 and a half years of my life absolutely embarrassed about how I looked, just thinking that I wasn’t as important, or I wasn’t as pretty, or that I didn’t have as much value as other women because I was bigger… While I still have some crazy self-esteem issues, I’m much better than what I was. Pole was absolutely the biggest catalyst that helped me start to heal."
"[The] first rule of dance and of fitness is that you dance for you first. If anyone else in the room, or your teacher, is smart enough to appreciate what you’re doing, that’s a bonus."
"When all is said and done, and it just comes down to you in the gym or you and the pole, definitely, I want you to enjoy yourself and love what you’re doing. Confidence is a direct byproduct of having fun... When you’re enjoying yourself, you’re just going to exude confidence, and you won’t even realize it."