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As an exercise physiologist, Jessica Enriquez is the ultimate role model. Not only does she talk the talk and walk the walk…she also bears the weight….substantial weight. Literally. The tiny woman who weighs in at 114 pounds dripping wet, is a competitive powerlifter, able to squat and deadlift 400 pounds and bench press a whopping 275 pounds. “Currently in my weight class, my numbers for my all three of my lifts are competitive, but I’m always striving for a personal best,” she said.
Jessica is the manager of wellness services at Friendship Village retirement community. Prior to coming on board four years ago, she earned her degree in kinesiology and was employed as a personal trainer and as an aid at a physical therapy clinic. “From these experiences, I worked with a variety of age groups including some seniors. This sparked a new found passion to help this aging population. Their reasons for being there were for functional reasons, not vanity. They were working towards a better quality of life, and that was inspirational to me and fulfilling for me to be a part of it.” Working with the residents at Friendship Village, Jessica said, “I am really impacting their lives in a positive way. Our objective is to help them stay healthy so that they can maintain their independence and live their best life possible. Their perspective is enlightening and has shined a new light on how I perceive life. They have such a positive attitude about life which drives me to perform the best I can at every single interest I pursue.”
Jessica said that she’s always been athletic. “My mom was a gymnast and an instructor. As for my dad, he was a soccer player and swimmer. I literally grew up in a gym. While my mom was teaching, I was playing in a leotard, running around the gym. I’ve done every sport,” she said, “In college I focused on soccer, track and field, pole vaulting and tennis.”
Jessica recalled that she embarked on weight lifting when she was 15. “I was on the regional Olympic team for soccer, and we started lifting while we were training. This life changing experience opened a new interest of the study of movement such as anatomy, physiology, strength, conditioning, etc. and I’ve been lifting ever since.”
In 2013, Jessica became intrigued with the idea of competitive powerlifting. “After having been a college athlete, I found I was looking for something different to try. I tried recreational soccer but I was too competitive. I started getting more into lifting, and found I liked the challenge of the sport,” she said. “I eventually decided to sign up for a powerlifting competition. To my surprise, I won my weight class which was very exciting and made me want to compete more. I’ve won my weight class in five meets straight, as well as winning best overall lifter pound for pound.”
Jessica said that the thing she likes best about powerlifting is that “it takes a lot of dedication. It keeps me humble and working hard on everything in and out of the gym. I know that if I want to lift a specific weight, I need to work hard during my training, and if I don’t succeed, I need to work even harder. I have to keep trying and never lose sight of my goal.”
Jessica’s commitment to fitness is reflected in every aspect of her life…especially at work. “I’m really dedicated to working out and especially with the residents. I totally live by example. I train at least six times a week either lifting or doing cardiovascular work,” she said. Not only do the residents love hearing about her successes…they’re also greatly motivated by her. This is especially evident as she encourages residents to try new, more extreme athletic pursuits than would generally be expected in the senior world. Over the past several years, Jessica and her team have introduced residents to rock climbing, archery, iFly sky diving, floor hockey and more.
Jessica is always furthering her education in the health care field. With her knowledge base always expanding, it enables Jessica to bring unique programming and events to the residents at Friendship Village.