…the Winner of the #pfitsuccess Instagram Competition!
In her professional life, she is an Associate Attorney at Ciklin Lubitz & O’Connell based in West Palm Beach, working in their Land Use and Real Estate Practice Groups. Outside of the office, she spends a significant portion of her time training to compete in the Bikini Division of the National Physique Committee (NPC). She sometimes refers to herself as an attorney-athlete, to amusingly denote the evolution from her longtime lifestyle as a student-athlete.
How did it all start?
As far back as Carla can remember, she was a competitor. Originally from Jamaica, she grew up competing in the nation’s flagship sport of track & field, as well as, her family’s favorite sport, tennis. At age the age 10, Carla emigrated to South Florida to pursue her passion for tennis. When she wasn’t in the classroom, you could find her on the tennis court training or competing in tournaments. Carla pursued her passion for tennis through her college years, where she was a member of Villanova University’s Division One Women’s Tennis Team.
After graduating from Villanova in 2010, with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Geography, she went on to attend law school at Northeastern University in Boston. Burdened with a heavy course-load, Carla did not have the opportunity to maintain a consistent health & fitness routine; she began to miss the fitness routine and the competitions that were once a constant in her life. During the summer of 2013 when she was studying for the Florida Bar Exam, Carla decided that getting into the gym and working out would be her main outlet and escape from the books.
Once she got back into somewhat of a steady fitness routine Carla felt that working out without an “end goal” was not enough to maintain her interest or consistency in her gym routine. In her words: “I really love competing and being in great shape…. I decided that I needed something to focus on…to give me extra motivation to be consistent with my workouts.” On that basis, entering fitness competitions within the bodybuilding arena seemed to be a natural progression, as she was already spending so much time in the gym.
How long have you been competing?
In the Summer of 2014, while living and working in Miami, Carla sought out a coach, Maria Bellando, and began training for her first NPC Bikini Fitness Competition. She entered the Ruby Championship in Boca Raton, Florida that Fall and got first call outs, placing 6th in Open Bikini C Division. In the summer of 2015 she competed in: The Anna Level Championships, placing 3rd in Novice B and 3rd in Open E, and; The Southern States Championships, placing 1st in Novice B and 8th in Open C. Only a few weeks ago, Carla took home 1st place in Novice B and 3rd place in Open C at the 2016 Beach Bodies Classic. In September, Carla plans to compete in this years’ Precision Fit Body Challenge for the first time. If she stays on track she will work towards competing in the NPC National Bodybuilding Championships held in Miami this November.
How do you balance career and fitness on a daily basis?
Carla believes that if you want anything bad enough you will find a way to get it done. Carla wakes up anywhere between 5:00 & 6:00am on the weekdays, packs her meals for the day, and heads to the gym before starting her day at the office. Depending on how close to competition she is, she may be routinely doing two-a-day workouts. As an attorney, finding time to work out once every day 6 days a week is hard enough so two workouts a day is not an easy feat, and; while it’s not always possible depending on her workload she does the best she can.
What’s the toughest part about the sport?
Without hesitation, she said “the diet.” Having a busy schedule – going to meetings, being in court from time to time, having to meet project deadlines – makes it difficult to get all her meals in. She knows she needs to improve in this aspect of her routine because she understands that “feeding [her] body is equally as important as working out and getting the right amount of rest and sleep in the process of building one’s physique.” When I asked her what her favorite cheat meal was, Carla explained that she rarely gets an official cheat meal but her go to is usually sushi. Her favorite food to indulge in post competition is (no surprise here ladies) “anything with chocolate.” Yes, she is a dessert kinda girl!
Is there a day you don’t work out?
Carla takes Sunday as a personal day (a day off from work and working out). As she puts it, “it’s important to give your mind and body time to rest and recover so you can feel rejuvenated to start the next week.” She likes to spend her personal day reading, watching movies, hanging out with family or friends, or being a beach bum. On many Sundays she also finds herself prepping her food for the week and finishing chores that need to be done around the house.
What keeps you motivated?
When asked what keeps her motivated to compete despite her challenging career, Carla stated that she has always been very motivated and goal oriented but the most important factor that allows her to keep chasing her fitness goals, is the amazing support she has from her family (friends included) and her Coach. “My family is very supportive and I’m thankful for that…it’s also very important to have a coach that can guide you and keep you on track in this sport because it is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging.” She believes that finding a coach who understands your goals, who you have a good rapport with, and who can work with you and push you through the physical, emotional and mental challenges to get you to the next level, is vital to success in the sport.
Any advice for women considering NPC Bikini Competitions?
Carla has a quiet confidence and grounded personality, and the advice she provides is consistent with that persona.
During your competition prep:
o Make sure you’re competing for the right reasons.
o Enjoy the process.
o Don’t listen to too many other people, instead find one voice to listen to, as everyone will have advice for you. Basically, stick to the plan you and your coach are developing.
o Find a coach who knows what they are doing and provides healthy options to get you through the prep.
o Don’t blindly follow advice if you don’t understand it. Do research on your own to educate yourself in the process. Ask your coach questions to understand their recommendations.
On competition day:
o Just relax and have fun. You’ve spent months working to build your physique so on the day of the show go strut your stuff and show off the body you’ve worked so hard to develop.
o Don’t worry about the outcome. We all want to win but competitions and judges are subjective. Stay focused on building a body you love.
Long Term Goals & Final Thoughts
As for long term fitness goals, Carla would love the opportunity to compete in bodybuilding fitness competitions at a professional level, as an IFBB Bikini Competitor. Otherwise, she simply hopes to maintain a happy and healthy balance in the pursuit of her personal, professional and fitness goals.
Carla Erskine is an amazingly hard working individual in every aspect of her life. In her professional life she is an Associate Attorney at Sistan Lubitz & O’Connell, Land Use and Real Estate. In her spare time she trains hard to compete in the bodybuilding world.
Carla’s road to bodybuilding began at a young age with another sport, tennis. Jamaican born, she always enjoyed competing. At age 10 her family moved to South Florida where she increased her level and determination with the sport. Eventually, she gained admission to Villanova in 2006 to play tennis at the Division 1 School.
Congratulations, Carla, and THANK YOU for being an inspiration to all of us! Thanks as well to everyone who participated in the #pfitsuccess Instagram Competition…keep up the excellent work, we still want to see and hear everyone’s success stories!