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Welcome to our search for New York City's hottest trainer. Over the coming weeks, we'll profile twenty-two smoking candidates who work at local gyms and studios. Once you've gotten to know everyone, we'll host a March Madness-style showdown in which you get to vote for your favorite.

Photos by Driely S

In addition to teaching at Barry's Bootcamp and SLT, trainer Layla Luciano is also a third degree black belt in karate, with roughly two decades of martial arts experience. It shouldn't come as a surprise that she's a fitness model, but you might not have guessed that she's also a certified elementary school teacher. On top of all that, she teaches her signature kickboxing classes at gyms throughout the city. And yes, she's just as energetic (and drop-dead gorgeous) outside of the gym as she is during her group fitness classes.

What made you want to become a trainer?

Being born and raised a vegetarian and having a mother who was a personal trainer meant that health and fitness have always been a way of life for me. My parents always looked for positive outlets for me to expend my tremendous energy and put me in almost every sport imaginable. If I wasn't doing flips on the balance beam in gymnastics, I was practicing my kicks at karate, running laps around the baseball field, breaking it down in dance class, shooting baskets at the basketball court, or just getting into trouble being entirely too hyper somewhere. Let's just say sitting still was never something I was good at, even up to today.

Aside from health and fitness, I've always been passionate about teaching. I started co-teaching karate classes at my dojo when I got my black belt at the age of 12 and continued to develop my teaching skills when I was student teaching during my two-year college teaching program (at New York City elementary schools). A hiring freeze made it impossible to find a teaching job, so I began creating and teaching karate, fitness, and Latin dance curriculums at summer school and after school programs. Being able to share my passion for fitness and the importance of building healthy bodies and lifestyles was extremely important to me. Shortly after I began my "official" fitness career, teaching group fitness and personal training.

What classes do you teach, and do you have a favorite?

I teach at Barry's Bootcamp, SLT (Strengthen-Lengthen-Tone) and my signature cardio kickboxing class. I don't really have a favorite class to teach. Both Barry's Bootcamp, SLT and my kickboxing classes are very different workouts that give me the freedom to create my own routines and "experience."

The group fitness industry has come a long way from just delivering a workout, and has given the power to the fitness instructor to personalize the workout through music, lighting, energy, and personality. Delivering a kick-ass workout is like a performance, creating an environment where clients can almost escape and exercise can be fun.

Tell us a fun fact about you.

When I wake up in the morning, I pop out of bed (regardless of the time) with a huge smile on my face and get myself ready for the day blasting music, doing cartwheels, handstands and literally running around my apartment.

Want to take a class with Layla? See her schedules at Barry's and SLT below, and check out all her social media, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram.
· Layla Luciano [Official Site]
· Layla Luciano [Twitter]
· Layla Luciano [Instagram]
· Layla Luciano [Facebook]
· SLT [Official Site]
· Barry's Bootcamp [Official Site]
· All Hottest Trainer 2013 Contestants [Racked NY]