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Our latest cover athlete is every bit as tough as she looks—inside and out.

By Sandy Braz, Deputy Editor | Photos by Paul Buceta

Jessica Rinaldi is the kind of woman you spot across a crowded gym and think to yourself: that’s one tough chick. And she is. Not only can she lift, squat and press like a pro, but she’s also found the inner strength to overcome personal tragedy and go after her goals. After losing her gym partner and biggest fan—her father—in her early teens, she continued to pursue fitness with more determination than ever. Today, the 31-year-old is the reigning Figure Universe Champion, a personal trainer, and continues to set her sights higher and higher.

HER ROOTS
Raised on farmland in New Mexico, the self-described tomboy spent her childhood playing outdoor sports with the neighborhood boys. In high school, her competitive spirit continued to push her to participate heavily in sports, until an injury sidelined her from competing. Yearning for an outlet for her athletic energy, she teamed up with her father and started hitting the gym at just 15 years old. For Jessica, finding fitness was a total game changer. Even after her father was suddenly killed in a tragic hunting accident, she continued to be motivated by the memory of him and their time together in the gym.

FIT FOR LIFE
Today she’s a personal trainer and sports nutrition counselor and says fitness lives in every crevice of her life. She trains with her husband throughout the week and names him as one of her greatest inspirations, along with her nine-year old daughter. Jessica’s motto: “Love who you are but don’t be afraid to grow everyday. You never know your true potential.”

Q&AJessicaBanner

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What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My husband and daughter are the motivation for everything I do. When I don’t feel like doing anything, I think about the reasons that I have to push to new heights and that alone makes me jump into action.

If you could train with anyone, who would it be?
This is a sappy thing to say but if it were possible, I would workout with my dad, who I lost when I was in high school.

Sweet, salty or sour?
An awesome combination of sweet and salty! Now that’s heaven.

Who inspires you the most in your life right now?
My husband is one of the greatest sources of inspiration I have ever met. He is a true leader and motivator and I admire him so much. He is an amazing partner and coach, and makes me excited about our future together. That to me is powerful inspiration.

Is there something about you most people would be surprised to know?
I’ve been pretty shy up until the past five years or so. Fitness has given me the confidence to come out of my shell and be the person I am today.

Do you remember the first time you ever trained at a gym?
Yes I do. I followed my dad around to every machine and copied every exercise he did. I was so sore the next day but I never stopped.

Favorite place to relax?
My favorite place to relax and unwind is in my kitchen or on our front porch. We just cook, talk, listen to music and enjoy our family.

 

Q&AJessicaBannerFaves

FLICK: Anchorman (Or any of Will Ferrell’s movies)

EXERCISE: Single-Leg Power Squats

TREAT: Cheesecake

JEANS: Miss Me, MEK. She says, “They are the best for curves.”

SNEAKERS: Nike Lunar Glides. “I have like, 6 pairs.”

PROTEIN POWDER: Forza Pro Peanut Butter Banana

SPORTS TEAM: The entire Rinaldi clan are Denver Broncos fans

WORKOUT SONG: Anything by Notorious B.I.G

BEAUTY PRODUCT: Philosophy lipgloss