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.


First Step to Bigger Change

First Step to Bigger Change

More From Rachel

In this video

McLish explains her philosophy that in order to effect change in the world you have to start by changing yourself.

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

Erin Brockovich
Erin Brockovich
Environmental Activist

Erin Brockovich is an environmental activist and former legal clerk who spearheaded the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind against Pacific Gas and Electric Company of Califo...

Alexis Jones
Alexis Jones
Female Empowerment Speaker

As a motivational speaker and entrepreneur, Alexis Jones followed her dreams and encourages young girls to do the same. She first gained worldwide exposure as one of the final cont...

SuChin Pak
SuChin Pak

SuChin Pak began her television career in high school when she was recruited to host a teen-based television show for an ABC affiliate station, and eventually moved on to jobs at O...

Hu Shuli
Hu Shuli
Investigative Journalist

Hu Shuli grew up and studied in Beijing, where she proceeded to become an investigative journalist, founding her own financial magazine. A five month trip to the United States earl...