Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Rachel McLish: 1958—: Bodybuilder Biography - Exchanged Ballet Shoes For Barbells, Became The First Ms. Olympia, Produced Books, Videos, And Clothing

Rachel McLish: 1958—: Bodybuilder - Produced Books, Videos, And Clothing

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Though McLish had left the competitors spotlight, she was still much sought after by the public. She was a regular on the training seminar circuit and served as a spokesperson for many fitness organizations. In 1984 Warner Books published her acclaimed strength training book Flex Appeal. She followed it with 1987's Perfect Parts which focused on "spot changing" different areas of your body through weightlifting. Both books worked on the premise that physical fitness was attainable by any woman. "Not everyone can have expensive furs, precious jewels, silk dresses or designer suits to put on," she explained the Los Angeles Times. "But everybody can have a body that anything will look good on." Both books were well-received by the public and are still selling nearly 20 years after publication.

In 1990 McLish partnered with K-Mart to release a line of workout clothing. Having learned to sew as a child from her seamstress mother, McLish was closely involved with the design of the clothes. The line "Rachel McLish for The Body Company" appeared in 2,200 K-Mart stores in January of 1990. The following year, sales of her line accounted for over a quarter percent of all sportswear sales in the country.

Unfortunately her budding acting career did not fare as well. In her acting debut she played a bodybuilder in the critically trashed 1984 made-for-TV movie Getting Physical. In 1992 she had her feature film debut opposite Academy-Award winner Lou Gossett, Jr. in the action film Aces: Iron Eagle III. That was followed by a starring role in 1996's Ravenhawk in which McLish played a wronged Native American woman out for revenge. It was notable only in that she performed all of her own stunts. Both films were produced by her husband Ron Samuels whom she had married in 1990. She found more success when she returned to fitness and in 1995 released a very popular workout video, In Shape with Rachel McLish.

By 2001 McLish and husband Samuels were enjoying a comfortable life in Palm Springs, California. Though she had long since given up professional bodybuilding, she still maintained a very active lifestyle, including a return to her old love—ballet. She was also planning to release a line of aloe-based skin products and a new line of fitness wear. Meanwhile she and her husband had begun pursuing a new hobby—buying, refurbishing, and selling homes. "We really enjoy design," she told Muscle & Fitness. "We put our heart and soul into it and we're passionate about it." The parallels to her years of weight training did not escape her. "A sense of aesthetics comes naturally to me, but you have to work on that ability, just like in bodybuilding," she continued. "You might have the potential, but if you don't work at it, and read up and be aware of what's out there, you won't fulfil that potential."

Selected works


Flex Appeal, Warner Books, 1984.

Perfect Parts, Warner Books, 1987.


Getting Physical, 1984.

Pumping Iron II: The Women, 1985.

Aces: Iron Eagle III, 1992

Ravenhawk, 1996.



Los Angeles Times, June 26, 1987.

Muscle & Fitness, February 1981; January 2001, p. 156.


"Rachel McLish," International Federation of Bodybuilding Website, http://ifbb.com/halloffame/html/txt_rachel.htm (March 25, 2003).

—Candace LaBalle

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