Written by Marta Ustyanich
With so many “fitspo” accounts promoting an unrealistic body image and phoney transformations, we’ve turned to these 15 up-and-coming Instagram influencers who are as refreshing as they are empowering. They may all have less than 150k followers, but these bossy ladies aren’t afraid to lift heavy and be unapologetically themselves, laying bare their own struggles right along side their PRs. These must-follow accounts will give you the confidence to own your gorgeous self, imperfections and all!
Joanne Encarnacion’s feed is straight up gorgeous to look at in addition to being relatable AF. The bright and airy photos capture the tatted California cutie’s balanced lifestyle, from her incredible body transformation (she wears her stretch marks proudly), to her Insta-worthy eats. She’s also one of our Women to Watch, which you can check out here.
Aubrey is a shapely stunner who doesn’t hold back when it comes to real talk about her ongoing struggle with mental health and body image. She’s a quirky babe who’s obviously crushing it (she’s the co-founder of @crushfit) the same way she crushes pizza. With eyebrows and muscles on fleek, Aubrey offers helpful form tips, unique quotes, and her own words of wisdom.
We’re super motivated with impressive weightlifter and CrossFitter Quiana “Chuckie” Welch. Though her lifts are always heavy, the Nevada-based tomboy keeps it light with all-around shenanigans, accompanied by her jacked, inked, and equally wacky squad. She’s all about loving the skin she’s in, and advocates for equality and acceptance for all.
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What’s not to love about craft beer- and food-loving powerlifter Cynthia Leu (not to mention cameos from her adorable pooch)? She went from skinny to strong, putting on 20 lbs after overcoming bulimia. These days, though she’s mostly confident, she keeps it real about having her bad days. Between heavy lifts, giveaways, and candid lifestyle snaps, you might find yourself drooling over tacos, pizza, fried chicken, and burger food porn.
Mande Martinez is a badass fit mom to the cutest toddler. She balances heavy lifting with #momlife, which means her home workout videos are usually jks. With the goal of setting a positive example for her daughter, Mande emphasizes the importance of self-worth, having struggled with it in the past, and shows off her stretch marks proudly.
We’re basically obsessed with Hanah Jamroz, a Barbie/boss who documents her journey without “letting it all hang out.” The CrossFitter and online trainer exudes positivity in every post, and doesn’t take herself too seriously, breaking into impromptu dance numbers between sets. It’s always refreshing to hear her tell it like it is, and her colorful commentary is sure to inspire you to kick some ass.
Anette De La Rosa is a bubbly but fierce Latina who goes hard in the gym and embraces her strong, #curvyfit physique. Her positive vibes are totally infectious, and her advice about finding balance and loving every step of your fitness journey is always on point—like her outfits, travel, and food posts.
We’re totally girl crushing on Jennifer, a petite and curvy lifter and yoga lover with a stunning fitness and lifestyle page. The artsy fitness shots and yoga poses are accompanied by pics of her fave goodies, vegetarian eats styled to perfection, and her lifeblood: coffee. Sh*t tends to get pretty real in her posts, where Jennifer is open about her own struggle with depression and how fitness has helped her overcome drug addiction.
We’ve followed this Canadian badass since her first foray into fitness. The Optimum Nutrition athlete is always honest about her own struggles with body image. Now, Theresa Jenn is focused on health, finding balance in her own life, and inspiring others through her #LiveLifeProject and adorable candid snaps, pro fitness shoots, outdoorsy adventures, heavy lifts, and of course, cheat meals.
We’re in total awe of Aussie trainer and Precision Nutrition coach Alexa Towersey’s ripped physique. Her expertly styled training shoots are beautifully shot, and her sparring videos and workouts are seriously badass. Though she’s usually dishing tough love to get her followers motivated, she admits that even she isn’t always “feeling it,” and is honest about her own limitations—like her need for a hip replacement following a diagnosis of osteoarthritis.
Who said lifters don’t yoga? Alex’s page is a fun mix of heavy lifting, fitness, and inversions sprinkled with pretty recipes, inspiring quotes, her go-to gear, and some seriously enviable travel snaps. Though her killer physique is a testament to her achievements, Alex keeps it real about her own ongoing struggle with self-confidence.
This cute-as-pie powerlifter isn’t afraid to throw around some heavy stuff or get a little silly on camera. We’re constantly in awe of her quadzilla-like attributes and refreshing sense of humor. In between flexing and hitting PRs, Meg mixes it up with scenic travel snaps and her sage/hilarious insights.
Canadian physique coach and yoga champion Michelle MacDonald is a 46-year-old powerhouse whose page is a constant reminder to love yourself. We can’t get over her heavy lifts and stunning travel photos, but the food tho! (You guys, she eats burgers with the bun. Seriously.) Though Michelle loves getting silly, she also tells it like it is, opening up about her own battle with bulimia.
We’re loving Amanda Jo Brezine’s unapologetic daily dose of body-positive real talk that she posts alongside training vids, progress posts, and side-by-side comparisons of expertly posed selfies and less flattering angles. Her body transformation is seriously inspiring and she loves cheat meals as much as we do (plus, her dog is adorbs!).
Personal trainer and yoga instructor Luisa Noelle takes her workouts and practice out and about NYC. She sports an athletic physique that’s #strongnotskinny, and her page is packed with creative workout ideas and colorful foodie snaps.