Perfect Strength. Perfect Balance. Perfect Grace.
Zoraya Judd – what can I say about her? She just takes my breath away! I think Sally Ann said it best when she welcomed us all to the Zoraya masterclass …
I don’t do masterclasses, but I do Zoraya! This will probably be the only masterclass I will ever offer, she is MY idol.
Well …. says it all really doesn’t it?
Zoraya Judd is an extraordinary and rare woman, she is uniquely talented in pole, with her main attributes being absolutely breathtakingly smooth and graceful gravity defiant deadlifts! She is head of her tribe of men (Zoraya has two beautiful sons), a spiritual goddess and maker of fine feathered thingiebobs too.
Zoraya was merely a pole student going through instructor training when she was entered by her teacher into a major pole competition WHICH SHE WON after only minimal pole experience under her belt, and shortly after the birth of her second son, with THIS gobstopping performance:
I wanted to find out more about Zoraya, her background, her mindset, her training regimen and what drives her. Ladies (and gents), here is everything you ever wanted to know about Zoraya …
Candy & Chrome’s interview with Zoraya Judd
Tiny: Hi Zoraya.
First things first, we NEED to know your age. We just do.
Tiny: Thank you. To start off with, can you tell us a bit about your background? You are from Latin origins? Tell us about that and if you think it may have contributed to pole?
Z: My mother is from Argentina. She was raise in a small village in Tanti in the mountains. She had a very humble upbringing and lost many of her siblings due to being in the guerrilla groups. She had 13 siblings and her mother was the witch doctor of the tribe. She is of Mayan decent and is a very hard working and determined woman.
My Father was born and raised in Sweden. He was the polar opposite. He had step siblings, but not many, and was raised in a high class society with everything that brought. He later immigrated to the US nag met my mother in college. They both have multiple degrees.
I have 4 crazy sisters and 1 brother. I have always loved the social scene in life. My Latin family is all very open and loving. I think this has molded me into who I am. I love people. I always take the side of the under dog, no matter who it is. I love latin dancing, but am not formally trained. Everything we did growing up was natural and fun, not forced. I love my background. I love hugging people. I will never forget where I have come from.
Tiny: I heard also that you are of the mormon religion? Famously centred in Utah – please educate us. What sort of impact does pole have on your religious beliefs?
Z: Yes. My parents are both converts the the LDS church and I was brought up in it. I loved it. I didn’t know a lot about it, and like any teenager I rebelled against my parents. When I started dating Nic I was always impressed at how he could answer people questions about our beliefs and never be confrontational. The early settlers of Utah were all LDS aka Mormon. They left their homes back east in Missouri and Illinois to escape mass persecution. It was horrific for them. Now Utah is known for all the Mormons that live there. 40% of the population in Utah is actually Mormon. Pole has NO impact on my beliefs. They are my beliefs, my morals. I love my religion and believe it with all my heart. It grounds me and brings me a lot of peace in the crazy times life brings.
Tiny: Do you think your mormon upbringing has made you somewhat rebellious? Or helped you become disciplined and able to apply that to training diet etc?
Z: I think my religious background simply makes me view the world a little differently than most. I believe my family will be together forever. And I believe that we will all be held accountable for our actions, good and bad. These things simply ground me. They help me maintain balance in my life. I think it has helped me morally and physically. I have been taught these things from an early age and I am in turn doing my best to give my children that foundation of hope and faith.
Tiny: What happened in 2004 – I read that there was an incident which had a serious effect on you and was a turning point in your life. Can you tell us about that, and how it changed you.
Z: Well…. A LOT happened to me in 2004. Nic proposed to me… We got our first puppy together, and our second, third and first snake.
But I think you are referring to my accident. I was at a work meeting one evening in San Francisco. At the time I lived about 45 minutes South in San Jose. The meeting ran late and on my way home I fell asleep at the wheel. I was going about 80 MPH and went off the freeway, rolled my brand new 2004 350 Z 2 times before a tree stopped me upside down. I don’t remember any of that. I woke up from the smell of the air bag. Its a real heavy, gun powdery smell. I thought the car was on fire. I was upside down and couldn’t open the doors. So I kicked through the wind shield and pulled the glass open large enough to get out.
I ran up the hillside that I rolled down and tried to flag someone down. No one stopped. So I ran back down to find my cell phone. I couldn’t find anything ANYWHERE. When I looked back up to the freeway I saw a California Highway Patrolman pulling up and I don’t remember much else. Nic got a call from the dispatch for CHP and she told him (2 hours after he had expected me) that I had been in a horrible accident, but not to worry because I WAS BREATHING!!! She then told him to not speed on the way to the hospital to see me. Im sure he was obedient to that…lol. He waited in the waiting room without any information for 3 more hours. The Dr.s and policemen were trying to figure out what happened and how I survived the accident without any injury. They put a neck brace on me as a precaution and I had blood all over my shirt from pulling the glass open with my hands. Other than that I only had a gnarly bruise from the Seat belt.
This experience showed me how fragile life really is and to treasure the relationships we have. To live life with intention and without regret.
To work hard and be kind to everyone. I have had many friends pass away unexpectedly, and this is always hard. But I am happy to know that I have always been kind and I believe I will see them again.
Tiny: How did you become to be involved in pole? Where did you learn?
Z: In 2007 we moved to Utah and a few weeks later I gave birth to our second son. I had lost a lot of muscle cause I had been pregnant for 2 years. I went to Nic and we spoke about goals for my body. He put together a plan for me to put the muscle back on. This was difficult because it didn’t happen as fast as I would have liked. The scale weight hardly moved, but my body was changing.
When my baby was almost a year old, in the beginning of 2008, a gym regular that I often spoke with invited me to a “functional fitness class” that he thought I would enjoy. Without knowing what it was I accepted and went. When I walked into the studio I saw all the poles. I giggled, but was very excited. It was a “Core Pole” class FULL of men. The instructor was the only other woman. She was yoked. I instantly fell in love with her, her style of pole, and this new class I had found.
I went to this class once a week for 4 months until they added another class to the schedule. Nic came with me a few times and changed my gym program so that I would be stronger for the pole. 2 Months after the class was twice a week my mentor and instructor moved on from the studio. She asked me to take her place as the instructor of the most difficult class Studio Soiree offered. I accepted, sad to see her go.
I taught for a few months and was surprised by my studios owner. She had entered me into Utah’s first ever pole competition. I had only taught the class for fun, for fitness. I had 2 weeks to prepare myself for this competition. I had never done combos, never performed in front of anyone in anything, and never been in a competition. I trained so hard that I lost all the skin on the back of my knee. I had to wear these huge black boots to cover my open wounds. It still hurt like hell. When I won the competition I was HOOKED! The adrenaline of the performance and the thrill off the win was amazing. I had a new passion for pole and sought out the stars of the industry to train me and help me grow.
Pole renewed my passion for fitness.
Tiny: You won Pole Fetish in 2009 (see above video) – how did your pole training change after that?
Z: I pushed to better myself as a performer. I hired a contortionist for flexibility and a professional dancer to help me with lines. I began to take pole seriously and trained personally on the pole from that point on.
Tiny: What is your diet like? Do you have different diets for training and comps? Please tell us.
Z: There are no secrets. We all know what is good for us and what isn’t. Most of us just simply choose the moment and indulge. I eat the best of my options as often as possible. Once a week I give myself a cheat meal. Not a cheat day. Ill have a small piece of cake, not the entire thing. Nic cooks for me and does most of my diet. The nice thing is that he really knows what he is doing and most of the time will diet with me so that I am not tempted to eat things that would negate my intentions.
Tiny: What motivates you to train the way you do? With everything you have in your life, children, household to run, gigs, touring etc…. How do you get off your arse and train?! Surely you don’t always feel like it?
Z: Your answer lies in your question. I am driven by those I love. My husband and children push me to be my best. I want to give them everything in life. If im going to be away from my children and husband then I better work my butt off OR just go spend that time with them. The gigs, comps and touring all fuel my fire to better myself and constantly evolve.
I love to train. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing it, BUT I do it anyway.
Tiny: What is the re-set detox and how does it benefit you?
Z: The Reset is a high fiber detox that helps me kick start my hard dieting. It is the easiest thing I have found to help me detox safely and easily.
Tiny: You are a striking looking lady with an exotic style, where do you get your artistic body image ideas from? Hair, costume, body paints, your wild woman look!
Z: I’m inspired by everything around me. I’ve always loved the exotic, wild look and I try to portray that. Zen Arts is a massive inspiration to me and many of the artists involved. Brion Topolski, Adam Tenenbaum, Susie Culini, Heather Morales just to name a few. I love them dearly and am honored to share a stage with them. I love their work and it inspires me to constantly push.
Tiny: Let’s talk hair…. what is it’s natural length? And is it naturally wavy and wild?
Z: This is my natural length. I have a natural wave and I do have extensions to add thickness. I have a big head of hair, but I think bigger IS better.
Tiny: Some of the gilt bodypaint we see on you is soooo shiny – is it gold leaf?!
Z: No gold leaf…not yet. A lot of it comes from Adam Tenenbaum (Overlay) and his box of magic. He is AMAZING and truly the worlds best at what he does.
Tiny: Tell us about your role at Zen Arts
Z: I am their first pole dancer. I am also training with them to do more aerial stuff. You may see this very soon.
Tiny: Your style is certainly very graceful and exotic without being oversexed, what tips can you share with our girls to help them think about they way they move and achieve a feminine, delicate look to what they do?
Z: When I started pole dancing I was told that I needed to put shoes on and do more floor work. But this isn’t what I loved about pole. I think the girls that do their thing on the floor are amazing. It is their style. They should stay true to that. but, for me, I was drawn to the strength and grace I saw men like Dominic Lacasse possess. This is what I emulated. My tip for women in pole is to BE YOU! Don’t try to be someone else. It’s fine to look up to people, but stay true to you. Felix Cane was one of my early mentors and idols. I took many privates from her, having driven hundreds of miles to take from her. Many people find this hard to believe because she and I are night and day. But this is why I LOVE training with her. Its so fun bouncing ideas off of each other and pushing each other in our own styles.
Tiny: You’re also known for your supreme ability to control your bodyweight against gravity – are there any secrets you can share with us about how to lift slowly as you do and hold statuesque poses?
Z: Its all a balance game. Find your balance. I also teach 1 on 1’s.
Tiny: What is the next step for Zoraya Judd? The Worlds? More children?
Z: Stay tuned. Im just getting started.