Hi Jess! Please tell us about yourself.

On a whim, my parents drove up the Alcan in a van to Alaska in 1983 while pregnant with me. I’m an Alaska kid from a big family, but I left the state for a decade and found my way back home a few years ago. 

I went to grad school to work with college kids. Some of the most valuable moments in my career have been mentoring young, female leaders. I decided to try on something new and I now work as the assistant to the President & CEO of Rasmuson Foundation and the liaison to the Board of Directors. I like to joke that some days I’m an air traffic controller, a magician, and a bodyguard.  

I mentioned my big family. There are eight siblings and I’m lucky to be the oldest in the bunch. I value the friendships I have with each of them and can’t wait until we are all old enough to travel the world together. 

Traveling is one of my hobbies – this year I plan to go to Iceland, Ireland, and Japan. I love to adventure and learn new things. Luckily I married a librarian! I also love to cook, go on long rides on my road bike, and lift weights. 

I’m left-handed and I love to scan a room to find my people! One of the easiest ways to get an authentic smile out of me is introducing me to a southpaw. 

How long have you been working with FF, and what initially inspired you to start training with us?

I’ve been working out with FF since October of this year, a little over four months. One summer before I moved home I was up for a visit to Alaska and was looking for boot camp classes. I stumbled upon FF and started following Steph on social media. Fast forward to this year, Steph sent a message and encouraged me to come to a class. Truth be told, I had been trying to work up the courage to message her about joining FF, so I’m glad she made the first move! 

I was a person who never worked out growing up. I was an angsty, artsy kid who did not find value in fitness. In 2016 while living in Chicago, I was introduced to strength training at DMSfit and it has been a complete game-changer. Lifting weights has provided me with a clear head, calm mind, natural energy, and new perspectives.   

Now you can’t keep me away from a barbell if you tried!

What are some of your favorite muscle groups to train, and why?

The triceps are a favorite because it is a humbling experience to target that muscle. I also really enjoy focusing on my shoulders and back. I find it challenging to work these areas of the body, but the challenge is part of the fun. 

How about a few of your favorite exercises? What do you enjoy most about them?

In a gym, you will almost always find me in a squat rack. My favorite exercises are the traditional heavy lifts – back squats, deadlifts, and bench press. Nothing feels more empowering to me than lifting heavy things. I have a lot of goals to add weight to each of these lifts and I’m lucky that FF provides me with thoughtful guidance to improve. 

When I work out at FF, I love dead bugs for the core! I thought they were impossible and ridiculous when I first tried them. That’s when I knew I needed to do it again. 

Outside of the gym, I have a need for speed and my road bike is my favorite summer activity. I love riding the coastal trail from Kincaid to downtown and the trail in Palmer that takes you to the Butte. 

Who or what inspires you?

In life, the arts inspire me. Travel inspires me. I pay attention to a lot of artists and tattoo artists on social media, there are some amazing artists in Alaska and beyond. I love to follow Colossal, Hebru Brantley, Esther Garcia, Animal Handmade, and Halcyon Forge. Female powerlifters also inspire me. I love to follow Sisters of Powerlifting, Girls Gone Strong, and Women’s Strength Coalition. 

Optimal Health. What does this mean to you?

Optimal health varies from person to person. For me, this means living with a calm body, a clear mind, and an open heart. I am focused on unlearning stressful behaviors that drive my perfectionism and ego. I focus on eating to nourish my body so that I can lift heavy things. I put myself in uncomfortable positions to learn and grow. I focus on engaging viewpoints, lifestyles, and cultures different than my own to shift my perspective. 

Above all else, I crave mobility, hydration, and those elusive 8-10 hours of sleep each night. 

What is your ideal way to relax and unwind?

A cabin in the middle of nowhere with a good card game or a puzzle. Come find me if you know how to play cribbage, euchre, or hand and foot. Bonus points if the cabin has a sauna.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get fit but may not know where to begin? 

Can I say, just start somewhere? Really, don’t overthink it. And say, yes. To everything. Trying things opens the door to new possibilities and you really may find something you love doing that you never thought you would enjoy before. For me, the list is long – Dead Bugs! bike riding! capers! bodyweight movements! nonfiction books! 

One of the best investments I’ve made in myself was to sign up for a personal training session in Chicago. Also, attending a few powerlifting classes. Learning from experts and continuing to value that investment has been transformational in all aspects of my life. 

What is your nutrition strategy like? 

I focus on including hydration, vegetables, and protein with every meal. I prioritize breakfast and lately have been making savory oats with roasted veggies and egg whites. I love to cook, often it feels like creating art. I love making big, beautiful salads. 

FF taught me how to track my macros and it has helped immensely with muscle recovery and overall energy. I’m decidedly less cranky and more prepared for what life throws my way when I plan my meals in advance. 

I don’t say “no” to things. If I want to eat a chocolate chip cookie, I will. I take a minute to ask myself if that’s what I really want or if I’m just mindlessly snacking. I also check in with myself to see if I’m thirsty. I am practicing mindfulness in this area of my life. 

The strategy is fun and doesn’t often feel hard if I make time for it. 

What are you most excited about in 2020?

Growing more than I ever allowed myself to consider. Embracing new challenges and leaning into the discomfort. I’m excited about muscles! 

Almost daily I think of summer bike rides and fun in Alaska. I can’t wait to see the April Bowl in Hatcher’s Pass when the snow melts, hike out to Tonsina Point in Seward and grab a beer at Thorne’s Showcase Lounge, kayaking on Eklutna Lake, and live music at the Seaview Bar in Hope. There is so much to cram into those three months, can’t wait!