This Women’s Month we’re celebrating women who have made a success out of pursuing their passions. They’ve taken Ctrl of their lives and forged their own paths. We caught up with the energetic Olivia du Plessis at her LivFit fitness studio in Paarl.

Even as a young girl Livey was the wild one playing Power Rangers and Lara Croft in the backyard while her sisters and friends were playing Barbie and dress-up inside. “I’ve always loved the outdoors and would often go for long runs with my dad. He used the time to make me aware of my community and those less fortunate. He was forever pointing out the people he wanted to help and the areas in which he wanted to make a difference. He’s a giver. It’s a personality trait I am so glad I inherited from him,” Olivia explains.

Her dad’s influence, together with her mother’s sense of self-sufficiency and can-do attitude, set Olivia on a path that would transform hundreds of people’s lives by making fitness fun and affordable, by providing eating plans as well as general health advice. Her belief that she can make a difference, hard work and sheer determination led to her opening her very own fitness studio before her 30th birthday.

Not only is she helping to create healthier bodies, but her clan of fitties (as her gym’s members are called) are also reaching out collectively to support those less fortunate through various community projects each year. She is a powerhouse with boundless energy and a regular speaker at women’s events and local SME business initiatives.

How did you end up owning & running your own gym?

I chose this profession because I saw the positive impact it had on the clients I dealt with when I was a personal instructor. I saw the potential to drastically improve their wellbeing with the right guidance, mentoring, support and routine. I made it my mission to arm myself with the rights skills to become the go-to person who could provide it. That is essentially my mission with LivFit studio; helping people change their lives for the better through fitness. 

What were the biggest challenges you faced when starting out?

Initially, the lack of funds was a challenge, but also a blessing in disguise. If I had the capital to open my studio 10 years ago, I would not be where I am today. The sleepless nights about keeping my then R2500 worth “business” afloat taught me how to manage money and know that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers.

That is essentially my mission with LivFit studio; helping people change their lives for the better through fitness.” 

What were your challenges as a woman?

Being a woman (of colour) in this male-dominated industry meant that I had to work twice as hard to get half the recognition and credit my brand deserved. I am still confronted with situations where potential clients are in disbelief that I run the show due to my skin tone and feminine appearance. I pride myself on my relentless work ethic. I’m constantly educating myself in my field and seek practical advice from experts. I apply my theory and can admit when I’ve failed. Always a lesson, never a failure.

How does what you do for a living reflect your passion? 

My job brings out every human emotion in me. It drives me. With the LivFit brand, I want to introduce habits that combat a sedentary lifestyle and decreases the chances of health issues. Fitness is not only an extension but has changed my life.

Who are your role models or other women you admire? 

Jillian Michaels is an American personal trainer, businesswoman, author and television personality whose work I admire and consider a professional role model.

I admire women, especially in my community, who are unapologetically doing it for themselves professionally despite traditions or pressures to conform to the norm.

If you could give a word of advice to young women out there, what would it be?

Believe in yourself no matter what anyone says. Young women are bombarded with ridiculous standards and expectations in every aspect of their lives and so easily settle or feel defeated. Envision what you need to obtain professionally, financially, in society, with relationships and family and believe that you will. Set obtainable goals for yourself and proclaim it to the world! Be bold when pursuing your dreams.

Visit Olivia’s website to find out how you can join the vibe and get in shape. You can also follow her on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook