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We chat with a Centerville native who’s a finalist for Women’s Health Magazine’s Next Fitness Star and how she’s empowering women on the road to a healthier life.

Erica Lugo of Centerville is one of the finalists for The Next Fitness Star.
Erica Lugo of Centerville is one of the finalists for The Next Fitness Star.

Erica Lugo hasn’t always been the poster child of women’s health like she is today.

Three years ago Lugo, this 29-year-old from Centerville, was ready to transform herself. Weighing 320 pounds, she found it hard to get on the floor and play with her 2-year-old son. That’s when she decided to change her life.

Today, Lugo has lost more than 130 pounds and, while on her weight loss journey, aims to inspire other women to do what she did: get healthy.

But Lugo’s story starts with something that many people also struggle with – binge eating. “I’ve always struggled with binge eating,” she says. However, through her weight loss journey she’s been able to work on the desire to sit and binge. “Sometimes I need to plan a weekly cheat meal, because if I splurge on a whim, I won’t be able to bounce back. You have to be in tune with what you’re dealing with that day, and to be honest about it, to make the healthiest decision.”

Once she knew she wouldn’t turn back to her old lifestyle, Lugo launched an online coaching plan from her social media platforms, became certified, and has been coaching online for more than a year now. Lugo has found success in Erica Fit Love by listening to clients, trying to relate to their struggles (and successes), and making fitness something that they can all look forward to – something that she found to be rewarding herself.

Using a combination of high-intensity interval training drills (HIIT), circuit training, and structured weight training, Lugo says she “discovered what good tired meant, and it felt amazing.”

Now, Lugo is in the running to become Women’s Health Magazine’s Next Fitness Star. The Next Fitness Star is a search to find America’s top personal trainer. The magazine searched for empowering personal stories, large social media followings, savvy entrepreneurship, and beneficial workouts.

When asked for a piece of advice, Lugo says it’s about keeping it real.

“Comparing yourself to others won’t get you far,” she says. “It’s a work in progress, especially on Instagram where it’s so easy to get caught up in filtered versions of people’s lives. But fitness isn’t an image or a size. It’s a mindset. I try to capture that mindset, not just selfies.”

Visit and watch the video below to learn more about Lugo and her journey. You can also vote for her to be The Next Fitness Star at

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Want to get involved in the beauty industry but don’t know where to start? A local beauty school has a unique approach to helping students begin beautiful careers.

Creative Images prepares beauty students to start their careers in the industry.
Creative Images prepares beauty students to start their careers in the industry.

Creative Images Institute of Cosmetology has been training professionals in the beauty industry for 21 years. “Creative Images provides its students with an education in the art of Hair Design Technology [cosmetology], Esthetics/Med Spa and Nail Technology,” says General Manager Brian Clawson.

According to Clawson, there are approximately 240 students currently enrolled at Creative Images between its locations.

The school is accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences. Students who attend the school may receive financial aid through the U.S. Department of Education.

Creative Images is always working with its students while they’re still enrolled at the school to ensure their placement after graduation. There are salon and spa liaisons who network with businesses throughout the Miami Valley area to find students jobs or internships after their time at Creative Images has ended.

At Creative Images, students are taught current techniques and styles beginning on their first day of class to ensure that they’re successful in the beauty industry. The number of Creative Images students who pass the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology exam and receive their license is greater than 90 percent. Students who don’t pass are offered continued training at no extra cost until they do pass.

There is an attendance requirement at Creative Images, which requires students be in class 85 percent of the time. Clawson says this helps to not only keep students dedicated but also gives them the strong work ethic needed to succeed in the beauty industry. For those who can’t go full-time and meet the attendance requirements, Creative Images offers part-time and flex-time programs so you can create an education schedule that will match your life’s schedule.

Clawson says that the team behind the scenes at Creative Images is continually updating trends, styles and teaching techniques. “Our clientele building program is currently undergoing an update and we are exploring how we can achieve over 200 client services for every graduating Cosmetologist,” he adds.

When some students graduate, they’ve completed more than 400 client services. While the average is closer to 200, Clawson wants all students to see a higher number of clients before they graduate to not only build up a list of regulars but to give them the most experience possible before they graduate, adding, “This many client services will allow for them to more successfully transition to their career at a salon.”

In addition to the Dayton campus of Creative Images, there are also locations in Centerville and Vandalia.

To learn more about Creative Images, click here.