Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Body as Canvas

Body as Canvas

More From Rachel

In this video

McLish explains how she sees bodybuilding as an art form and the satisfying power it gives her.

Rachel's Biography

“I Wanted to Grow Up to Be…”: “Strong.”
Champ to Champ: She was presented with her first Ms. Olympia bodybuilding trophy by Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former Mr. Olympia.
First “Ms.” Title: Before she was Ms. Olympia, one of her earliest jobs was “Ms. Credit” at a bank, having “to go around asking for credit applications with a banner.”
Cause of Choice: Ahmanson-UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center

Rachel McLish is a female bodybuilding champion, actress and author. When she earned the inaugural Ms. Olympia bodybuilding title in 1980, she put the sport of women’s bodybuilding on the map and became an international role model for women’s and girl’s fitness. Fashion-model beautiful, she dispelled commonly held notions about female bodybuilders as being necessarily masculine and unattractive. She was a leader in making physical fitness as much a part of women’s lives as it had always been for men.
 
McLish was raised in Harlingen, Texas in the Rio Grande border country. She began weight training while attending Pan American University as an outlet for her high-energy personality and found it to be an almost “mystical experience." She graduated in 1978 with a degree in health and physical education and went on to found South Texas's first health club.
 
She was catapulted into the public eye when she won the first Ms. Olympia contest in 1980, and then won the title again in 1982. She also won the United States Bodybuilding Championships in 1980, and over the next four years placed in the top three in five other national contests. In the years that followed, McLish authored two New York Times best-selling books - Flex Appeal by Rachel (1984) and Perfect Parts (1987) – and acted in action films. In 1999 she was inducted into the International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness Hall of Fame.

Related Videos

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook COO

By now, Sheryl Sandberg has spent more than two decades achieving at the highest reaches of governmental and corporate America. And she’s determined to bring more talented y...

Lauren Bush Lauren
Lauren Bush Lauren
Global Nutrition Advocate

Lauren Bush Lauren is the CEO, Creative Director and Co-Founder of FEED Projects LLC, with a mission to create good products to help feed the world. In 2004, she was an Honorary Sp...

Nadine Burke Harris
Nadine Burke Harris
Founder & CEO, Center for Youth Wellness

Nadine Burke Harris founded Center for Youth Wellness, an organization that seeks to recognize and effectively treat toxic stress in children. Burke Harris and her organization add...

Rita Mae Brown
Rita Mae Brown
Author & Activist

Rita Mae Brown is an activist and author best known for her first novel Rubyfruit Jungle. She has written thirteen literary novels, more than two-dozen mysteries and several books ...