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You don’t get over 1 million followers on Instagram by half-assing what you share with the world. Just like you don’t get the flawless body of Valentina Lequeux by going half-speed when you train. You get it by doing hard work. That’s the philosophy of the fitness guru. “It’s not easy,” she says. “I’m in the gym five days a week. I want to show the world what it takes to make a change and have an impact on my Instagram.”
At least once a week, Lequeux releases a video of her slaying her workouts either in the gym or on the beaches of South Florida. Born and raised in Argentina, Lequeux and her family moved to Boca Raton in hopes of a better future when she was just 11. A sports nut growing up, the Floridian became a fitness fiend on a quest to spread her tough-loving messages to followers who are looking for motivation in their lives.
With the recent launch of her new website, fitbyvalen.com—where she sells her custom-made resistance bands and delivers her daily workouts—Lequeux took time away from her growing social media presence to talk about her insecurities, her passion for motivating others, and dealing with internet trolls.
M&F: You grew up in Argentina until your tween years. How different would you be if your family had stayed in South America?
VL: I’d be more reserved. Argentina has a different culture. In South Florida, things are very open, and it’s hot. You tend to get loose quicker and take your clothes off pretty quickly. It’s so typical to do that here because of the beach island vibe.
Do you consider yourself to be very confident considering you have some 1 million followers on Instagram?
Believe it or not, I’m a little shy.
We don’t believe it.
Well, I’ve had insecurity issues about my breasts for years. I thought about getting implants for 10 years, on and off. About a year and a half ago, I decided not to do it.
With that many followers, you’re bound to get trolled a little. Right?
I receive judgment all the time from trolls. When I started my Instagram, those insecurities were still there. If I didn’t have my current state of mind and confidence, those comments would have broken me down. They say things like, “Flat chest!” or “Where’s the boobs?” or “You look like a man!” I even had an overweight guy criticize me while I was creating video content for my page when I was working out on the beach. The comments are endless. Some people kill themselves because of comments like that. They hurt.
What’s the best way to combat trolls?
When you look deeper into who are making those comments, they have significant insecurities. It’s sad, but they’re probably going through something. What annoys me, though, is that these trolls are always hiding. Their accounts are always private, and they have no photos on their profiles. I’d like to see if they would say the same stuff to my face.
Probably not. What are you hoping to accomplish with the following you’ve amassed?
First and foremost, I want to help girls feel more confident. I’ve had some reach out and tell me stories about how they were abused or have superlow self-esteem. It breaks my heart. I want to make them feel good about themselves. I also want to empower and motivate people who are into fitness or new to tness to get started and keep going—I want to be that extra push they need.
When it comes to motivating other people, you have some tough messages to your followers when you post a new workout video. Why so much grit?
It’s tough love. I don’t like sugarcoating anything. If you want to get to this level, you have to do the work. Doing two or three workouts a week and eating bullshit all the time isn’t going to get you anywhere.
We couldn’t help but notice you have an overwhelming appreciation from your followers for your backside. Does that ever get annoying?
Oh, God! I’m so over it! I answer all of the comments, but now it’s like I have to post a booty pic even when I don’t feel like doing it. I normally skip over the male comments because I get so much love from my husband [Luis Enrique Palomeras Ziade, who is in pretty good shape himself ]. Guys need some new lines. I’m more interested in what the girls have to say.
How does it make you feel when you receive positive comments from your female followers saying that you did help them?
It’s the highlight of my day. Sometimes it makes me want to cry. When I meet my followers in person, it’s just amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I get a lot of respect from my male following, too, and that’s awesome, but they’re more reluctant to comment than the girls. They’re either intimidated or just shy.