Even the most committed strength athletes sometimes need their own motivation. We sometimes look for strength heroes in the real world, like trans lifters who have to overcome a lot to be able to compete. Other times, we need something fun like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s rap that’s good for the gym. Still other times, lifters get ideas from fictional heroes like the boxer Adonis Creed or, more recently, the character Luisa Madrigal from Disney’s Encanto.
Encanto, a Disney animation that came out on Disney+ on December 24, has gotten a lot of attention for how it shows dysfunctional families in a new way. But there is one character, Luisa Madrigal, who stands out and is praised by fans.
For those who don’t follow Disney, Luisa is the sister of Isabela and Mirabel, the two main characters of the show. Isabela looks and acts like a typical Disney princess. She is the small golden child of the family. Mirabela is the quirky underdog who is cute.
On the other hand, Luisa works out to build her body. She is shown lifting pianos and wagons over her head in the movie. People say that she is the family’s “rock.”
Luisa was given a magical gift from her family’s history, just like the rest of her Madrigals. In her case, that gift is strength beyond what humans can do. But her story reminds lifters of all strength sports (and Luisa can crush them all) how important it is to rest and put other things in your life ahead of lifting.
She is strong both physically and emotionally, but what’s most important is that she has a body that looks strong and powerful, which is something Disney and most other studios have never praised in a female character before.
Dylan Ekren, an illustrator and character modelling supervisor, talked about the challenges they had creating her look the way she did
“I think we all just wanted to do it in a way that fit the style and made sense for the character, and I’m really proud of how she turned out. Everyone on the team was so great. I just pushed the right buttons at the right time.”
These comments were made on Twitter, but the account has been made private since then.
I have to say that I’m a little surprised that this was okayed by the powers that be, given that Disney has been very vocal about the need for “diversity and inclusion” in everything, even when it comes to animatronic monkeys.
Evidently, the animators made the right choice since the character turned out to be so popular.
Fans reaction to Luisa Madrigal
From what people have said on social media, it seems like this means a lot to women who feel close to Luisa. Lucy Davis, a fitness influencer and former swimmer, wrote a post about the character on Instagram. She said, “When I was younger, I always thought that the Disney princesses all had the same bodies, with a tiny waist and being very thin and superficial all over.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a muscular, athletic body, and I would have loved to see Luisa when I was growing up! For Luisa to have big muscles in Encanto, the artists had to work hard. AND because of this, so many girls find her very real. She looks totally hot… There is something so refreshing about a Disney movie character who can bench press you, looks happy and at ease in her own skin, and has muscle.
There is talk on a number of different web forums about how people want more Luisa merchandise, and it’s not just females that love her; boys do as well.
Fans were surprised how Disney was trying to promote merchandise related to Isabella and not much focus was on Luisa merch.
A fan wrote on Twitter, “It’s great to finally see strong female characters who don’t look like princesses. No, this girl is BUFF and tall, and she doesn’t have the curvy body that Disney usually uses. And it lets women like me feel seen FINALLY!!!”
Luisa Madrigal’s training routine
Luisa doesn’t just pick up and put down heavy things. When the audience first sees her, she is sprinting on a magical treadmill. She is working with two heavy dumbbells in her hands. In the movie, one of her main jobs is to catch her neighbors’ runaway donkeys. She often throws several sad-looking creatures at once onto her back and shoulders.
During “Surface Pressure,” Luisa throws huge boulders into the air and lets them hit her traps and shoulders as they fall. For the sake of her family and a moving musical number, she picks up the sword that Hercules leaves behind to fight the three-headed dog Cerberus and presses down on the whole casita and village where her family lives.
Even though Luisa’s superhuman strength is a magical gift from her family, she still works out to get stronger. In A Tale of Three Sisters by Anika Fajardo, which is a book based on the movie, Luisa’s magical room in the Madrigal family’s casita is full of weights, pulleys, climbing ropes, and bars for swinging.
This means that Luisa trains to get stronger, more powerful, and last longer all at the same time. This is not an easy thing to do, but it makes her a good fit for almost any elite strength sport. She is a rare athlete who could do well at both the Arnold Strongman Classic and the CrossFit Games.
Lessons we can learn from Luisa Madrigal
The first lesson is for producers and film makers. It shows that people desperately want to see more strong women on the big screen. And ones that are good. Up until now, Miss Trunchbull was one of the only women who was shown lifting weights and having a muscular body, and she was scary. But Luisa shows that strength and bigger bodies are something to be proud of, and we hope that producers and audiences won’t find that shocking in the future.
The second and a profound one at that is for athletes, as they are often under a lot of pressure to always be at the top of their game. Both the mental and physical costs can be very high. Our latest one-rep max is often a big part of who we are as people. This has to do with how we feel about ourselves when we lift and how other people see our progress.
Luisa reminds us all that vacations aren’t just fun, but also important. Luisa isn’t the only woman who feels like she has to meet and exceed expectations all the time without showing weakness or setting limits.
You don’t have to always lift the heaviest plates in the gym to keep your strength at a high level. And scheduling rest days is a key part of staying mentally and physically at your best.
Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant.
He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves.
Rahul has a master’s degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.