Carla West is the owner of Carla West Fitness. She’s a personal trainer, an online coach on an international platform… and she runs ‘The CWF Collective’ online programme – for the average girl who wants to become the best, most athletic version of herself.
What drives her to do all this? She’s passionate about teaching, helping people and being active. And here, she tells Ondela Mlandu how she landed her dream career.
How to make a career out of fitness
Carla recommends getting a qualification. “Don’t start posting educational content or giving advice on social media before you have a qualification to back yourself up with. You can study full time or online and there’s a wide range of courses available,” she says.
Carla studied at eTA Sports and Fitness College in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. “Connecting and meeting people in your industry will be easier once you make this your career if a few people already know who you are,” she adds.
Practical work vs theory
There’s so much more to personal training and entrepreneurship that no one tells you about before you start out, says Carla. “I’d recommend an internship to get experience before taking on your own clients. You learn so much more by practically applying the theory you’ve learned,” she says. She also recommends exploring courses or free resources in branding, marketing and bookkeeping to help you run your business once you open your doors.
The struggles of being an entrepreneur
When Carla started out in 2012, the fitness industry was male-dominated. “[But] women are dominating the fitness space [now] and I actually see a big benefit to being a female trainer in the market at the moment,” she says. As an entrepreneur and personal trainer, Carla says working for yourself and by yourself gets lonely sometimes. “You’re constantly comparing yourself to the more successful girls on social media, reassessing your prices compared to what your competition is charging, and you never quite feel like you’re good enough – but my clients give me that boost of confidence,” she says.
Carla’s most important leadership lesson…
“Don’t give up on your dreams. I did temporarily when I was 21, [when] I took a three-month break from the fitness industry, but the flame within me never died and I knew in my heart it’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” she says.
Her advice for the next generation…
“There is literally nothing stopping you! You are the boss of your own life and the world is our oyster! Don’t wish for things to be easier; work on being stronger to overcome any challenges,” says Carla.
A must-read book for every woman
“I enjoyed Girl Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur by Cara Alwill Leyba.”
How Carla practises self-care
As someone who runs around in activewear all day long and barely ever gets the chance to dress up, Carla loves getting super-girly. “I enjoy getting my nails, hair or eyelashes done, taking long baths… and doing face masks is my utter guilty pleasure,” she says.