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Melissa and Ryan Hansen will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary in August. What are their secrets for staying happily married? One is that they make time to work out together.

Three to four days a week, the couple, both 35, meet at noon at Rushmore Crossfit, doing short bursts of intense cardio and weight lifting for up to 30 minutes.

“We love it there,” said Melissa. “It’s a community. We can even bring our three kids, Gwendolyn, Franklin and Henry.”

“We try to lead an active lifestyle,” Ryan said. In colder weather, the family can be found snow skiing on Terry Peak almost every weekend. 

In warmer weather, the family goes rock climbing together. “We do CrossFit so that we can climb,” said Ryan.

Ryan’s brother, Eric Hansen, has a climbing wall in his garage where they practice. The family also enjoys golfing at Arrowhead Country Club and biking on the bike paths.

“We work out to combat stress. Exercising releases endorphins, which helps us feel more satisfied,” Melissa said. “We also like to stay active to set a positive example for our kids.”

Rapid City licensed marriage and family therapist Kathy Sazama said working out together can benefit a relationship. “Together, they are working toward a goal. Encouraging and helping one another can strengthen the relationship. Investing in and nurturing a relationship has great benefits,” she said.

Ryan and Melissa have been together since 2001. The couple met when they were students at South Dakota State University, where they each played competitive sports.

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Melissa, originally from Pierre, played basketball. Ryan, of Rapid City, played baseball — after growing up setting several records with Post 22. They started working out together after college, when their participation in organized sports ended.

The Hansens were married in August 2006 in Pierre at Melissa’s parents’ home on the Missouri River. The couple first moved to Rapid City in 2005, but left for Vermillion so that Ryan could complete his Doctor of Physical Therapy at University of South Dakota. The family moved back to Rapid City in 2008 and started Hansen Physical Therapy.

Melissa, who has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an emphasis in early childhood, taught in Vermillion and at Pinedale Elementary in Rapid City, but she now stays home with their children. She also currently teaches a non-denominational Bible study to 20 3-year-olds.

The couple said they try to eat healthfully, but they don’t follow a specific diet and allow themselves to indulge.

“We work out so that we can do the activities we want and eat the foods we want,” Melissa said.

At Rushmore CrossFit, there are often competitions between the women and the men, forcing Melissa and Ryan to square off against each other. The next contest is coming up March 9.

“I put my bets on Melissa,” Ryan said.

“No, he’ll definitely beat me! We can get competitive,” said Melissa, “and Ryan is a great athlete.”

“But she’s the best athlete,” Ryan with a grin.

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