Layla Luciano doesn’t exactly have a physical transformation story. There was not one moment in particular when she decided to become her incredibly strong self or leave another version of herself behind. Instead, she has an incredible drive within her–a drive that she implemented within her lifestyle at just five years old when she first discovered martial arts.
Layla eats ice cream and goes out dancing with ordinary, non-trainers in NYC. She doesn’t care for laying around and watching movies on weekends, but has trained celebrities such as Jason Biggs, Jake Gyllenhaal and Kim Kardashian, to name a few. Most of these names she was unfamiliar with, but timidly regurgitated thanks to a few whispers from her boyfriend during our interview. Layla Luciano doesn’t care whether or not you’ve walked the red carpet, and not one of her clients receives special treatment, especially those who are of celebrity status.
“I call them out. Regardless of whether they want it or not” she says about her most elite clientele, most of whom she doesn’t recognize in her classes, she laughs.
“I say, ‘listen, I didn’t know really who you were to begin with, so, I’m going to treat you how I treat everybody else.’”
To put it bluntly, Layla is far from a fitness snob.
Layla was born and raised a vegetarian, in New York. “I’ve never had meat or fish, ever” she admits. Her mom a fitness trainer herself, fitness was always a part of Layla’s life, even if she didn’t know it at the time.
“I was a very active kid –I played basketball, baseball. Every sport imaginable, I’ve pretty much done it all.”
Before Layla started making it big as a trainer and bootcamp instructor through the infamous Barry’s Bootcamp and other big name boutique gyms, she worked in elementary education, for the public education system in New York.
“I thought I would fall in love with it. I fell in love with the kids but not the curriculum system. I saw all of the kids’ unhealthy eating habits–their school lunches. They get half an hour of recess but they’re kids, they have so much energy! Of course they’re not going to be able to pay attention if you have them sit down for an entire day, so I started my own after school programs and summer camps for kids fitness. I created a program around it.”
…I started my own after school programs and summer camps for kids fitness. I created a program around it.”
From her small start, Layla’s energy and fitness training style quickly inspired the mothers of the children whom she taught, and word got out.
“Moms wanted me to train them – I went to a personal training gym and got my certification – and then I was teaching my own fitness classes at this all women’s fitness studio – was going to gyms at the time that were a little bit more well known and I got jobs there – it was – it was perfect.”
Next, Layla tackled the boutique and celebrity fitness niche in New York City.
“I love what I do I think that shows in every single thing that I do–every class that I teach. It’s not about you, its about your client – it’s about the people that are in your class. People get so focused on the competition and the title and the glorification of it. You lose a little bit of what you actually wanted to do in the first place if you go about it that way. It’s about staying true to your passion and it’s really about your client. It’s really not about you.”
“I love what I do I think that shows in every single thing that I do–every class that I teach…”
Layla’s training style is about mixing it up and having fun, while promising to be one of the hardest workouts out there.
“I believe in doing a bunch of different things with your body is the only way that it will really change. So, just playing with exercise to a certain expectations –I do a variety of different things. I do martial arts and boxing but I also like to do resistance training and aerial, it’s a whole mix of everything.
A powerful woman in the fitness industry today, Layla’s self-worth wasn’t always at an all-time high. Layla quit the industry two years into college, after having modelled for five years.
“Modelling changed me and made me very self-conscious. At that time my particular look was too exotic and my features too dark. As tough as you are, that kind of thing still gets to you–warps your thinking.”
Today she empowers more women than she knows–as a healthy role model, and as a female leader in an industry that is quickly shifting its gender roles, she says.
“I think it’s changing a lot now, especially seeing how women do the same stuff that men do. That mindset that people have of women not being able to train as well as men has changed in the past four years. In New York there’s a lot more female fitness trainers than male fitness trainers, especially in the group fitness industry.”
So, how do you make it big like Layla Luciano in the fitness industry, today?
“Keep your opportunities open networking and training new people. In group fitness every person you meet is a connection; word of mouth. It’s about getting out there and making sure that people know you’re good at what you do. Show off your skills on social media, especially if you do something different.”
On the business front, last month Layla and her boyfriend opened their own popup studio in NYC, Pact Park.
“It’s half boxing, like MMA strength training on this machine and half low impact but high intensity friction training.”
They plan on eventually opening up their own space in the fall. Until then? “We’re testing out the kinks and getting people to try it and fall in love with it, so that they’ll follow us to our main studio.”
Role Model Rendez-Vous, a weekly series about the women whose stories we expect will empower your lives as much as they inspire ours as a brand, and as individuals like you.