The model turned her hotel balcony into a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit shoot, sharing the photos on Instagram

By Colleen Kratofil
June 06, 2019 12:32 PM

Kate Upton proved once again she’s the queen of swimsuit modeling.

The model, 26, posted a sizzling swimsuit photo on Instagram on Wednesday posing in a black plunging one-piece with adorable summer accessories, including a beach hat, mirrored sunnies and a floral-print kimono.

Upton, who welcomed her first child, daughter Genevieve, in November, captioned the shot: “Things are finally heating up…🔥.” And a lot of her celebrity friends agreed.

Kate Upton/Instagram

Fellow model and mom Lily Aldridge wrote, “Hot mama 🔥🔥🔥.”

Comedian Whitney Cummings quipped: “Now I’m starting to get suspicious you had a surrogate.”

And Upton got a flirty comment from hubby, MLB pitcher Justin Verlander, who wrote: “One hot momma! 😍😍.”

Two other fans who also praised her pic include her longtime trainer, Ben Bruno, who added a hands raised and fire emoji, and MJ Day, the editor of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue who left a string of kissy face emojis.

The model, who’s graced the pages and the cover of the coveted magazine many times, recently celebrated the latest SI Swim issue with the brand by hosting a Strong4Me fitness class during “SI Swimsuit on Location” in Miami.

At the event, Upton chatted with PEOPLE about her journey to self-acceptance and the pressures society, especially social media, present.

“When I first came out on the cover of Sports Illustrated, I had a of criticism on my body and it was a really tough time,” Upton tells PEOPLE. “One of the hardest moments was when a blogger really attacked me and my body calling me these mean names and it really hurt me and upset me. And I was like, ‘Why am I even doing this? Why am I evening putting myself out there to get this scrutiny?'”

Thankfully, her manager sent her a slew of fan mail that made her see the importance of staying true to herself.

“There was all of this fan mail of women expressing to me their different stories — how they suffered from body image issues or eating disorders. And I was like, ‘That’s why I’m doing it. It’s for them.’ And it’s for me to. It’s for me to love myself again and find that happy place again. It’s so hard the criticism we face, on Instagram and seeing everyone at their best all the time on social media. How do we become our best self? Why are we working out? It’s for us. It’s for us to live our best life. To be the best moms. The best business women. Whatever it is.”

She’s been working with Bruno at the gym for several years now and has been very vocal about her exercise goals, explaining she works out to “feel healthy” rather than focus on fitting in a certain dress size. Last December, she and Bruno developed the at-home workout program called Strong4Me so fans can follow along with their exercise routines.

“We were seeing all the fitness programs out there to date and it’s either made by men, really specifically for men and then women get scared of strength training. This program is made for women specially for their bodies so we can the best benefit and through the different phases we’re slowly building up and getting stronger.”

She added: “I love Ben’s philosophy of not trying to kill you because ultimately when you’re really sore the next day you skip, maybe even for a week. So to have a sustainable workout and lifestyle it’s better in the long run to have different phased workouts. It will yield results.

And she’s teaching healthy practices to her daughter as well. “I want her to be as happy as she can possibly be and to grow up in a healthy lifestyle,” Upton said. “Eating healthy and working out is putting you in the best mental place to be your best self and to have that confidence.”

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