Lisa Raleigh
Fitness Magazine|January - February 2019

No matter what industry you’re in, entrepreneurial success often boils down to dogged hard work, unwavering commitment and the ability to spot and exploit opportunities when they arise.

There are few examples that better illustrate this point than the story of fitness entrepreneur Lisa Raleigh. After finishing matric Lisa studied to become a personal trainer and at the age of 18 started her career, and it’s been on a upward trajectory ever since.

TODAY LISA IS ONE OF THE MOST RECOGNISABLE FACES IN THE FITNESS INDUSTRY. Through a combination of hard work, digital and social media savvy, and her appealing look and unique approach, she has built a thriving business as a lifestyle and wellness expert and exercise specialist with various brand extensions. These include stints on various TV shows, including reality show The Biggest Loser, Doctor’s Orders and she has worked as a health and wellness consultant on SABC 3’s daily morning show, Expresso.

She has authored multiple best-selling books and she has a new health food range. She’s also created her My Body Back programme for new moms and the well I am 13-week wellness transformation challenge, and she’s been involved in various other projects, including the NGO The Liveright Foundation, SUNfit, and Go Jozi Healthy Lifestyle Street Fairs.

We sat down with Lisa following her fitness mag cover and workout shoot to uncover her formula for success...

As a wildly successful fitness entrepreneur you have organically grown a strong brand and a thriving business. Was this stage in your career always the objective, or has your business evolved as opportunities arose?

When I started out as a personal trainer I had a different vision of what my business was going to be compared to what it’s evolved into now. I thought I would run and own a few gyms in Durban or Johannesburg and I started out on that path. I started my first private gym called VO2 Max. I then opened a second one in Hillcrest and finally a ladies-only gym called Go Figure. My idea was to be personally involved in all of them, but that soon proved to be difficult.

I couldn’t divide myself between three places at the same time. And although I had the opportunity at the time to franchise my weight loss and wellness clinics through Darren Scott, I realised that it wasn’t what I wanted because I wouldn’t be involved with my clients or have the chance to be hands on. My dream was always to change lives and work one-on-one with clients. I’ve always loved hosting workshops and talks, and giving classes, but I knew it would be hard to do that as a franchise owner, so I stepped away from the opportunity.

Over the years, my vision has changed so many times, but I’ve always wanted to work with people in wellness and leave a legacy. Now, I can honestly say that I am happy, passionate and fulfilled because I get to do so many exciting things every day, like developing new products for my e-store, running rebounding classes, seeing people one-on-one for wellness consultations, and developing wellness programmes. My days are never the same and my bucket is certainly full.

How has your career progressed and your business evolved over the last 15+ years?

I started personal training when I finished school. As a competitive athlete and gymnast, it was always something I wanted to do. My boyfriend at the time was a semi-professional rugby player and I had the chance to go with him to Wales. I gained some great experience working in gyms while I was there and shopped till I dropped, which meant I came back to SA with very little money saved.

I started a small, mobile fitness business. I drove to clients’ houses in my old, rustic Corsa, setting up a home gym and taking them though a workout using minimal equipment. I carried a set of dumbbells, ankle weights, a barbell, resistance bands and a step. That was all I needed to help people get fitter and stronger. My first client was my mother’s best friend, whom I begged to train and after seeing results, she trained with me for 10 years!

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