How Roz "The Diva" Mays Builds Community for Marginalized Athletes

 
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Have you ever fallen in love with a fitness class and thought, “That’s it—I’m ditching my 9-to-5 and getting certified to teach this full-time.” (Listen, I can’t lie and say I haven’t daydreamed about becoming a spin instructor every time I get on the bike—my playlists would motivate the heck out of you.)

But the reality is most of us don’t do that. 

isn’t most of us: When she fell in love with pole dancing at her gym, it became her new calling. That, plus lifting the voices and heart rates of other marginalized athletes like herself. 

So, squeeze into your bike shorts and go for a jog through Roz’s experiences with training during the pandemic, building an online community, and her number one tip for Black women entrepreneurs: Charge. Your. Worth. 

Sarah: Can you tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey, and what drew you to personal training? 

Roz: Never in a million years did I think an overweight, terrible-at-running teenager would grow up to be a pole-dancing meathead. I always thought I would grow up to run Corporate America—and for a while, I was on that path. 

As I started to climb that ladder, I also started pole dancing at my gym in October 2007. What started as a hobby quickly progressed into an obsession; by February 2011, I began teaching pole class. When Corporate America saw how much I loved my new sport, they encouraged me to spend more time at the gym (I got fired). 

While unemployed, I used that free time to earn different fitness certifications, and I started solopreneurship in 2014. This whole journey has been the most profound experience of my life.

 
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“This whole journey has been the most profound experience of my life.”

 

S: Let’s talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your business. Are you training exclusively online now, or have you been able to train outdoors as well? How’s that been going? 

R: So far, I’ve been training 100 percent online. New York City was devastated by the pandemic, and at least two-thirds of the city is still locked down. Some facilities are slowly coming back to life, but I won’t feel comfortable conducting private sessions for quite a while. 

My clients and I have been working together over video chat. It’s not as fun as in-person, but it’s the best option we’ve got! I’m so thankful to provide a service that translates fairly well to a digital platform.

S: How has your online presence influenced how you run your business and helped to create the inclusive community you train? 

R: I do my best to be an ally for marginalized athletes, and social media is the best tool for amplifying our voices. is a mashup of athletes of every ethnic background, every size, adaptive athletes, the LGBTQ+ family, raging liberals, and those working to improve their emotional wellbeing. The internet is the most accessible place for us to meet and be sweaty messes together. 

I love all my weirdo friends and clients. We keep each other from going completely insane, especially now.

S: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other Black women fitness entrepreneurs? 

R: Don’t be afraid to charge your worth. Many men—especially white men—wouldn't think twice about charging a premium for their services, and neither should we. 

Raise your prices, sis, then pour yourself a cocktail. 

 
 
acuity customers, independent business owners, fitness, covid-19, pivoting online