Mom’s fitness journey leads to pole dance, fitness studio

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo August 05,2018 - 08:27 PM

Julifer Ponder spends some family and fitness time on the pole with her two daughters in her pole dance studio in Lapu-Lapu City.

Ever since Julifer Ponder, 34, could remember, her younger self had always dreamed of opening a dance and fitness studio.

But Ponder, who was born in Butuan City and raised in Barangay Sibagat in Agusan Del Sur, had to let go of her dreams to focus on working as a househelp for a year after her high school graduation so she could have money to pay for college.

She was an Accountancy student at the Agusan Colleges of Butuan City from 2002 to 2004. She supported herself for two years by working and studying at the same time until a cousin offered her the opportunity to move to Cebu in 2004.

In Cebu, Ponder pursued a degree in Management Accounting at a university in downtown Cebu.

She was a working student but it only lasted for a year.

“My salary was not enough for my school and personal expenses. I stopped school and focused on working,” she said.

In 2005, she worked as a cashier for a prominent retail brand at a mall in Cebu. This was where she later met her future husband. They got married in 2006.

Aside from being a cashier, Ponder also became a caregiver and worked as a graphic designer. She juggled these responsibilities along with starting her own family and completing her degree in Management Accounting in another university.


In August 2009, she gave birth to their first child. To stay fit, Ponder enrolled in a gym. This was when her desire to open a fitness studio was rekindled.

But she had to learn the basics first before she plunged herself into the field.

Ponder focused on working out and becoming a bodybuilder. She got pregnant with her second child. Later, a friend showed her a pole dancing video that piqued her interest.

She showed the video to her husband who supported her decision to learn pole dancing in Canada while they were on family vacation.

She was also running a taxi business from 2007 to 2010. She sold the business to another company as she decided to leave for Canada on July 2010.

“I know it was not my thing. I needed to find a business venture that makes me happy and is aligned with my dream,” she told Cebu Daily News.

A few days after arriving in Canada, Ponder saw a newspaper advertisement on pole dancing classes for mother and daughter. The studio was just around the neighborhood.

“I was beginning to believe that pole dancing was for me,” she said.

Ponder admitted that she did not have the confidence to join the class then.

“I was thinking that the others may be very good and that I will be the least experienced person in the group. But my husband was very supportive. I was enrolled in the class and he brought me to class everyday,” Ponder recalled.

In less than a month, she was able to adjust to the class dynamics and made friends.

She continued pole dancing even when she got pregnant with her third child. The family came home to Cebu by April 2011. Ponder brought home a pole with her which she planned to install in their house.

In Cebu, Ponder toiled on finishing her degree in Management Accounting at the University of Cebu-Banilad. She eventually graduated in 2012.

Ponder also studied yoga to improve on her flexibility and became a certified yoga teacher in 2015. She later applied for a certification in Hong Kong as pole dance teacher and became a certified Xpert Pole Teacher in 2016.


Ponder was carrying out her responsibilities as a mother — sending her children to school and waiting for classes to finish — when she heard conversations of mothers about getting in shape.

“They wanted to get on an exercise routine. They want to go on a diet but they could not seem to find something that is actually fun and does not make them feel like they are on a strict exercise regimen,” she said.

Ponder started sharing her journey to some close friends. Eventually, her story spread to other mothers which led her to transform her children’s play area to a pole dancing studio.

More women with children got interested about it that in 2014, Ponder officially opened Fit and Fab Pole Fitness Studio.

The studio is located on the third floor of the Countryside Bank Building in Barangay Pusok, Lapu-Lapu City.

The studio has an average number of 100 students. The number doubles to 250 students during summer when the studio offers more classes for people of different ages.

The studio also offers ballet, contemporary, hip-hop and other dance classes aside from pole dancing.

For Ponder, any person can join a pole dancing class.

Her business philosophy is to make sure that her students enjoy the classes because the camaraderie and friendship formed in class keep them motivated to continue their fitness journey.

“No one is born with abs. What you need is the willpower to transform yourself into a better person,” she said.

Ponder hopes to open other branches in Cebu and inspire more women to stay fit.

She also creates fitness activities that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Ponder’s children are also dancers and fitness enthusiasts.

“I love seeing women happy … mothers like me who find happiness in their fitness journey,” she said.

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TAGS: dance, fitness, fitness studio, journey, leads, Mom’s, pole
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