UM alumna pioneer in Miami pole dancing scene

karlapolefitness.ttWhen University of Miami alumna Susan Hilferty saw a segment about pole dancing on Oprah, she immediately called her friend to visit featured dancer Sheila Kelley’s studio in California.

Hilferty, who came to UM on a dance scholarship in 1985 and was on the first Sunsations Dance Team, was interested in this new form of dance.

“It was just like ballet,” she said. “But now the bars were vertical not horizontal.”

From the first time she walked into Kelley’s studio, she felt a change within. Her engagement had recently been called off and she saw this hobby as something she could do for herself.

“As girls we are socialized on this promise of marriage and if we don’t get married we feel like we failed,” she said.

For the next two years, she went to five different studios for weeks at a time trying to get a complete knowledge of this form of dancing.

She opened Miami’s first pole exercising studio, Pole Fitness Miami, in 2006 while simultaneously working at Taro Pharmaceuticals.

“I did use the degree I earned at UM,” she said.

A year ago she left her pharmaceutical job and decided to turn her attention solely to her studio. The Coral Gables location is located minutes away from the university on 4018 Aurora St.

Pole Fitness Miami

According to Hilferty, attorneys, accountants and teachers are the top three professions of Pole Fitness Miami’s clients. However, the law field is by far the most popular of all her clients’ professions.

“My clients are everyday, nine-to-five women,” she said. “We have attorneys spinning upside down.”

Hilferty does not allow men in her studio. She has been approached by several gay men, but she said the demand is not high enough.

“I don’t want to change the energy of this studio by letting men in,” Hilferty said. “I go to a [coed]gym and I feel like I have to put on lip stick. I can’t relax.”

This man-free space has an aura that allows women to explore their sexuality.

“I want women to be whatever erotic creature they want to be,” she said. “Women of all shapes, sizes, and ages can do this…the lighting here is so dim everyone looks good.”


Hilferty says clients have successfully lost up to 20 pounds at her studio.

Karla Perusquia, a 2009 UM graduate and instructor at the studio, can testify to the workout pole dancing entails.

“You definitely use everything you normally don’t use when you are pole dancing,” she said. “Abs, arms, it requires a lot of strength.”

Perusquia said she only pole dances three days a week to stay in shape.

The physical change is not the only appeal of pole dancing to Perusquia; she considers the emotional transformation a positive effect as well.

“Women change from the first class as they continue. They become more open, secure, and feel more comfortable with themselves,” she said.

Pole Dance Miami also offers classes that are not centered around pole dancing. These sessions include group dancing, lap dancing and a dance fitness class.

“This is a full-service dance studio,” Hilferty said.

A full Class schedule is available at

September 24, 2009


Ed S. Fishman

News Editor

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Sophomore Bruce Brown announced Thursday that he has declared for the 2018 NBA Draft, the University ...

Lots of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday, with the second spring practice session set for Thursday mo ...

The battle for the University of Miami quarterback job began in earnest with the start of spring pra ...

A six-pack of UM notes from the first day of spring football on Tuesday: • UM’s first-team offensive ...

UM spring practice begins Tuesday with heavy focus on the quarterback, with N’Kosi Perry and Jarren ...

Women’s Commission’s 47th annual breakfast honors those who stand up to make a difference for women ...

The Kislak Center opens, aims to advance new forms of scholarship and build bridges across the Unive ...

Novelist Jennine Capó Crucet’s Miami-spiced book talk spotlighted the One Book, One U initiative. ...

As part of the “It’s On Us” initiative, the former vice president urged the UM community to help com ...

Haitian-born Henri Ford’s incredible journey to the deanship of the Miller School of Medicine. ...

The University of Miami volleyball team hosts Florida Atlantic University at the James L. Knight Spo ...

The University of Miami Hurricane Club is excited to announce the official 2018 Building Champions S ...

Despite earning the doubles point, the No. 19 Miami women's tennis team dropped a 5-2 decision ...

In search of its fourth series win of the spring, the Miami Hurricanes host No. 24 Virginia from Mar ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team will seek to continue its perfect record at home Frid ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.