Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing a talented woman who proves that anything is achievable with perseverance. Known as a fitness model, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, aerialist, martial artist, TV personality, and C.O.O. & Co-Founder of Park Pact, Layla Luciano was destined to become a powerful force in the health and lifestyle world. According to her website, Layla “is known for her high-intensity, exhilarating workouts that activate both slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers for a complete, balanced workout…Layla is dedicated to teaching good form and making every second and every movement count!”
Layla recently starred alongside six fitness trainers in Bravo’s Work Out: New York where she strived to start her own fitness center/gym with her boyfriend, Jay Centeno. In the beginning of March 2016, Layla & Jay’s Pact Park opened and is quickly gaining popularity. Described as “NYC’s newest high intensity, high tech, high end, group fitness experience,” Pact Park is obtaining more participants than expected and even adding more sessions to accommodate all.
Check out my interview with Layla below where she discusses Work Out: New York, Pact Park, what’s coming up in the future, and much more.
-Living a healthy lifestyle was the norm for you growing up. At what moment did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in fitness and health?
I always knew that I loved helping people better themselves. When I was in middle school, I used to volunteer to help teach the younger kids classes at my karate dojo. At 16 I volunteered at my karate school’s blind program, teaching karate to blind and visually impaired students of all ages. Education was very important to me and my family so when I was deciding what I wanted to go to college for, teaching was an obvious choice.
I went to college for elementary education and taught K-6 for two years. I noticed unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise and kids just not being able to focus because they naturally have so much energy and aren’t able to really get up and move around while they are at school. So my fitness career started 6 years ago when I designed and taught fitness programs/curriculum for elementary school students in public schools around the city. I taught a Latin dance program and a karate program but the underlying idea for both of these programs was teaching my students the importance of building healthy bodies and lifestyles! Two years later, I continued to share my passion for fitness by developing and creating my own classes at various NYC fitness studios including boot camp, palates and kickboxing.
-How did you end up doing Work Out: New York?
A client of mine approached me with the idea because he knew my BIG personality would work well for reality TV.
-Were you reluctant to do reality TV?
In the beginning, Courtney[Paul] and I were pretty much the only ones excited to do the show! We both have big personalities and love to have fun and entertain so we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to show both our professional side and that life doesn’t have to be so serious all the time! Unfortunately, with editing and production, I was a little disappointed with what they decided to focus on for my story in the first few episodes. As a fitness professional I was definitely upset at first but then again, it is reality TV!
-After watching the whole season, is there anything you would change about the experience or would you do everything exactly the same?
Now that I know the inner workings of reality TV, there are definitely things I would have done differently. Instead of being so willing and open to everything they wanted me to do, I would take my time and think about how a certain situation could be manipulated.
-Do you still keep in touch with your fellow cast members?
I still keep in touch with Courtney because he’s one of the few people that get me.
-If there is a season two of Work Out: New York, would you do it?
Now that Jay and I are business owners and two years strong in our relationship, we know exactly what we want and people will be able to see our progression!
-A big part of your story line was the fact that you and Jay wanted to start your own gym/fitness center. How is that coming along?
It feels amazing to be creating our own concept and studio with someone that you love and respect! PACT PARK is a high intensity, high tech, high end, group fitness experience. The unique workout combines boxing and MMA strike training on a Nexersys machine that calculates strikes, accuracy and power AND friction training which concentrates on mobility, balance, control and coordination, using body weight training to maximize form, speed and power.
Right now, we are doing high intensity 30 minute pop up sessions during March at Hub Seventeen in Lululemon Flatiron on 17th St. and 5th Ave before the studio itself opens to create some buzz and have people try out the new workout! We have been opened for 14 days now and everyone LOVES it! Sign up at www.pactpark.com.
-I love the relationship between you, Mama Love, and Courtney and even your relationship with Jay. Would you ever consider doing a show with just your family, Courtney, & Jay?
Of course! (It) might have to be on another network though because we get ratchet.
-What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the fitness world as a trainer?
Make sure it’s in your heart and something you want to do for the rest of your life or don’t do it! Being a fitness professional is not a side job! Of course we all need to pay our bills, but your main goal as a fitness professional is helping others, not just yourself!
-What is NEXT for Layla Luciano?
Opening up our first PACT PARK studio is my main priority right now! Performing a few aerial silks shows within the next year! And spending time with my family, my close friends and the love of my life!
Photo Credit: Layla Luciano’s official website/Instagram/Twitter