Fitspo Queen Madison Reed Gives New Meaning To ‘No Excuses’

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If you’re a follower of the fitness world that lives within Instagram, you’ve probably heard of Kayla Itsines. The 24-year-old personal trainer from Adelaide, Australia, currently has 5.1 million followers on Instagram and has inspired girls around the world to try her Bikini Body Guide program, abbreviated to “#BBG” by the majority of followers.

Kayla frequently posts before and after shots on her Instagram of the girls who work through her program, but there’s one fitness fanatic posted three weeks ago that stood out from the crowd.

Meet Madison Reed, a 21-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, who’s been working through Kayla’s BBG program since last year. What makes Madison a bit different from the other girls sweating toward their body goals? She was born without the distal portion of her left arm.

“I have not so often had people tell me that I can’t work out, but more often people that seem surprised that I do work out,” says Madison. 

While some of us find little excuses to skip our daily workout such as bad weather or “not enough time,” Madison embodies the “no excuses” outlook by working through Kayla’s entire workout plan (arm workouts included).

“For many of my weight bearing exercises I use two or three foam blocks (the ones many people use for yoga) to act as my forearm,” explains Madison. “Because I am better balanced, this has allowed me to work out more of the muscles in my left arm as well as my right arm.”

She also uses a circular stretch band wrapped around the middle of the bar and extending to her left forearm for dead lifts. And when she’s not at the gym?

“When I do not have any of these things, for example when I work out at home, I sort of just look around the room and make stuff up! I have to be pretty creative sometimes,” she told Galore.

Madison doesn’t take excuses from her body, or from her environment. On her Instagram, you can view Madison’s recent trip to South America, complete with hiking photos, scenery, and post-workout selfies from her hotel room.

Like many of us, Madison stuck to cardio and abs before she learned the importance of strength training through Kayla’s workout program.

“I would run, do sprints, go on the elliptical, etc. I would do a lot of non-weighted abdominal workouts,” says Madison. “I was very aware of my left arm when I was at the gym, and I was terrified of arm workouts in the gym.”

Kayla’s BBG program changed the way that Madison viewed working out her upper body, while also bringing her aboard the “strong, not skinny” mindset that has become prevalent in the women’s fitness community.

“Since starting the Kayla workouts, I have noticed a lot more muscle and tone in my body. I have always had some ‘skinny abs,’ but I now feel that I have strong abs that I worked hard for,” she said. “Additionally, I have noticed much more muscle growth in my shoulders, legs, and left arm.”

Madison’s introduction to Instagram as fitspiration has helped her self-esteem rather than hurting it.

“Prior to starting Kayla’s guide, I would spend a while in front of the mirror criticizing my body,” says Madison. “I did not feel strong, and I did not like the way I looked. Now, I more so look in the mirror to check out my abs [laughing]. I feel more comfortable with my body. I still critique myself, but it’s more constructive. When I see something that I want to change, such as low muscle tone, I work at it.”

In fact, like many social media users, Madison argues that creating an Instagram account dedicated to BBG actually keeps her on track with her workouts. “I had a very bumpy road sticking to it [initially]. I would say that I did not whole-heartedly commit until March of this year,” says Madison. So, what gave her the dedication she needed?

“I was following so many BBG Instagram accounts, and I was falling in love with the community. Seeing the progress and motivation from these insta BBG girls, and receiving the continued support from my best friend [who had previously done the program] really inspired me to jump all in.”

Compared to other personal trainers on Instagram, Kayla Itsines rarely posts selfies, instead focusing on her clients. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why her BBG program has helped Madison (and so many others) come to terms with her body and view it as an ally rather than an opponent.

“I am less harsh on myself regarding the things that I can’t change,” explains Madison. “For example, I naturally have cellulite on my legs, and I have to remind myself that I am not perfect, and that is okay. No one is. I am also a lot more confident regarding my left arm, especially in the gym. I am much more comfortable on arm day. In fact, I feel quite proud during these workouts.”

In regards to the girls who do post jealousy-inducing ab photos on Instagram or perfectly edited bikini shots, Madison views them as inspiration rather than enemies.

“Instead of comparing myself to those girls and shaming my own body, I try to use these girls as motivation to be the best version of myself,” she said. “If I am working out, eating healthy, and trusting my own progress, then I am much less likely to be envious of someone else’s progress.”

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