I’ll be the first to admit that I had a very limited understanding of pole dancing but have come to learn that Pole Dancing is a competitive and empowering sport that is perfect for athletes who do not fit the “traditional mold” but are very serious about fitness. It is especially empowering as a sport for plus size women because it flies in the face of so many preconceived notions mainstream society has about pole dancing, plus size women, and fitness. I’m sure a whole college course can be taught around this very subject, with Roz Mays’ career as the inspiration for the curriculum.
Roz “The Diva” Mays is the CEO and founder of the first national pole dancing competition series that exclusively highlights plus size dancers, aptly named Dangerous Curves: A Celebration of Plus Size Pole Dancers (more on this later). In addition to being an aspiring entrepreneur who is breaking down stereotypes and boundaries for plus size women, Roz is a NASM certified personal trainer and a SAG-AFTRA member for her professional stunt work in Law and Order: SVU, The Big C and the Adam Sandler movie, That’s My Boy. On top of this, she teaches “obnoxiously loud” classes at Body & Pole and Crunch in New York City.
I am happy to report that meeting and speaking with Roz has made me a more enlightened person about this sport; Roz is a pretty incredible woman and a true pioneer in her field. She’s confident, strong, healthy, and loves her body – a true inspiration in my book and definitely someone to learn from.
Natasha: Why pole dancing?
Roz: Pole dancing is the reason I am a gym rat. Prior to pole, I assumed that a million hours of cardio would magically slim me down. NOPE. Not even close. Pole was my introduction to strength training which in turn was pivotal to my weight loss. The changes in my body inspired me to learn about the science behind working out. Pole dancing is one of the most physically demanding forms of movement. Hundreds of thousands of dancers worldwide use this unique form of exercise to build and tone muscle. As if that weren’t enough, pole kickstarted my second career as a fitness instructor.
Natasha: How did you come up with the idea for Dangerous Curves?
Roz: I’ve been pole dancing since 2008. As I traveled across the country performing at these cool shows, I was always the “big kid” on stage. Despite the love I received from my support squad, I still felt lonely. That all changed in August 2012 when a dozen beautiful plus size pole dancers came to Brooklyn to compete in the first ever Dangerous Curves show. As if that weren’t cool enough, the show was hosted by world famous comedienne/actress Luenell. That was my first time ever producing this type of event, but it damn sure wouldn’t be the last. Four years later, DC [Dangerous Curves] is still on and poppin.’
Roz: Dangerous Curves: A Celebration of Plus Size Pole Dancers seeks to highlight the unique contributions plus size athletes bring to pole dancing. The fitness industry hails the tall, slender, chiseled body as the perfect athlete; the farther one strays from this image, the less talented they are thought to be. This stereotype has shamed countless athletes with nontraditional bodies–discouraging an active lifestyle for those who need it most. ‘Plus-size’ and ‘fit’ are not mutually exclusive. The dancers of Dangerous Curves are phenomenal role models, representing hard work, talent and passion. They are consistent in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle through pole dancing.
Natasha: Who is the show targeted to and what should people expect from the show?
Roz: Most people don’t even know pole dancing exists outside of strip clubs, let alone that it’s a legitimate sport. Don’t expect to politely clap in your seat – our veteran audience members are raucous, loving and wildly supportive. Virgin spectators usually enter with a smidgen of trepidation, but leave with rock solid respect for our athleticism. Everyone, from my 74-year-old grandmother to my friends from Canada always have a blast!
Natasha: How do you see growing/enhancing the show?
Roz: In the next two years, I hope to introduce Dangerous Curves: The Plus Size Fitness Conference. I’m hell bent on advancing fitness opportunities for nontraditional athletes. I envision a weekend of pole dancing, strength training, cardio that doesn’t suck, flexibility work and nutritional counseling. Of course, the actual DC competition would be the main event!
If you’re in the NYC area, please do check out this year’s Dangerous Curves: The Plus Size Fitness Conference and join me in cheering on all of the fabulous plus size women showing off their athleticism on stage.