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Fitness Fairy Tales from Real-Life Couples

We Found Love in Outdoor Club

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Mike Lang knew that starting an Outdoor Club at his university would have its perks, but he never expected a beautiful blond to be one of them. He was drawn to Bonnie Lang the minute she showed up at the club's first meeting. So when Bonnie tried to explain a scheduling conflict due to her rugby practice, Mike jumped at the chance to flirt. His line? "They let you play rugby with all that metal in your ears?!"

Almost nine years later, Bonnie and Mike are not only still going strong as a couple, they also run their nonprofit adventure therapy program for adult cancer survivors together, Survive and Thrive Expeditions. "We basically live outside together, going back country skiing and winter camping in the cold months and rock climbing, rafting, and backpacking in the summer months," Bonnie says of how they keep their love alive.

We Found Love at the Gym

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As trainers at the same gym, both self-proclaimed "fitness nerds," and both recently single, Kate Galliett and Drew Whitehead had a lot in common from the start. "I thought he was super hot from the first day he started on my team," Kate says. "There was just something about him. We were such good friends already and the little voice in my head told me there could be something great with him.”

Who made the first move? "It was all me!" Kate exclaims. "I didn't want to risk missing my chance with him so at a local restaurant opening we both were invited to, I got up the liquid courage to tell him how I felt. I basically laid out the reasons why we should be together and then ended with 'Come on, you know you want to too!' And it turns out he did."

After five-and-a-half years together, Drew decided it was time to take the next big step and proposed... that they start a business together! They now own ProKine Performance , an expert in strength and conditioning coaching for endurance athletes and motocross riders in St. Charles, Illinois. When they're not on the job, the gymnast and parkour athlete stay fit and entertained by challenging each other to do crazy stunts at the local trampoline gym or doing parkour.

We Found Love in the Weight Room

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In what could be an adorable advertisement for their local 24-Hour Fitness, gym regulars Jake and Emily Bates met when they both moved in on the same triceps press-down machine. There was an awkward pause and then the two exchanged hellos and shortly after, Jake asked Emily for her phone number. "And then," she laughs, "he laid this down on me: 'I want to find out if your inner beauty is as good as your outer beauty.' " Hey, it worked!

Five years later, the now married couple still hits up their favorite gym together to lift weights. "He's still as cheesy as ever… and he's still my favorite gym buddy!" Emily says.

We Found Love at the Finish Line

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After crossing the finish line at the grueling Tram Road Challenge in Palm Springs, Debbie Christensen and Allan Woodruff stuck around to cheer on their fellow competitors. But soon enough, Allen's primary focus was chatting up the pretty blond that caught his eye.

Later, at a pancake breakfast for the winners, Allan approached Debbie and a friend and suavely asked, "Are you sisters? Because you have the same beautiful eyes!" It wasn't true, Debbie says. "But who cares? It worked!"

Three years later, they were together at the finish line of the Tram Road Challenge again, but this time it was for their wedding! The super-fit duo ran the entire race in wedding attire and then said their vows before a waiting minister who pronounced them husband and wife. Now the couple has 35 marathons and 14 years of wedded bliss under their belts, er, race bibs.

We Found Love at the Grand Canyon

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On a free trip to the Grand Canyon to try out all the latest Columbia sports gear, Heather Balogh didn't think things could get any better. And then she met Will Rochfort, the handsome, funny, and friendly photographer in her group. The two stayed in touch via email for several months after returning home, but then one day Heather opened her (snail) mailbox to find an old-fashioned love letter. "He said that he'd been in love with me his whole life, he just hadn't met me yet," Heather gushes.

Touched by the pen-on-paper gesture, Heather took Will as her date to a friend's wedding . Five months later, they're still dancing... and hiking and skiing and snowshoeing. "We're in the process of planning some epic mountaineering and backpacking adventures in the coming months," Heather says.

We Found Love in High School Gym

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High school sweethearts Matt and Marisa Brouse first locked eyes across a crowded weight room, but they didn’t officially meet until Matt offered to help Marisa learn a weightlifting move called a power clean. Weight training sessions expanded to competing on the track team together and eight years later, the couple decided to cement their sweaty sweetheart status with a ring.

“I never used a snappy pick-up line,” Matt says, “but my marriage proposal, in true meathead fashion, was verbatim Rocky's proposal to Adrian: ‘I was wonderin' what are you doin' for the next 40 or 50 years?’.”

The couple still hits the weight room together after four years of marriage, but their fitness routine has recently changed to include their two rescued huskies Bandit and Misty. “Now we do some running, a lot of hiking and snowshoeing, and we're working on skijoring,” Matt says.

We Found Love in a Canoe

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Debra Schwanke joined the Minnesota Outdoors Rovers Club to get her hiking fix, not to meet a man. So she didn't even noticed on one backpacking trip when the same guy end up riding shotgun every time she drove the group van. Their paths crossed several times during the week-long trek, but it wasn't until the drive home that Lauren Gagner finally made a move and asked her to go canoeing.

Debra may not recall the first words Lauren spoke to her—she was just trying to drive, after all—but she remembers the first thing he said on their first date canoe ride: “Do you want to take the stern?” She was impressed because “most men don't want to give up the control of steering!” It was so memorable, in fact, they recreated the moment on their wedding day!

During their 18 years together, they’ve discovered that being active, doing everything from tandem biking to snowshoeing, not only keeps them healthy, but it connects them as a couple (as Debra discovered while preparing for a three-week horseback riding trip in Mongolia). “There is just something about sharing workouts, pushing ourselves, sharing the rewards, and then talking about it that is such a bonding experience for us! I can't tell you how proud I was of 'my man' when I saw him outlast everyone in boot camp in a plank, and he held it even longer with the trainer sitting on him!”

We Found Love at a Bodybuilding Competition

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A long-time lover of weight lifting, Shannon Sappington jumped at the chance to check out a bodybuilding contest being sponsored by her local Gold's Gym. As she studied the seating chart, trying to decide which tickets to buy, the clerk asked the next person in line for their seating preference. "Wherever she's sitting!" answered Pete Hagan, another member of the gym. Shannon thought it was a little weird but was flattered enough to accept sitting by him, as long as mutual friends came too. She had no idea her life was about to change forever.

“We spent the rest of the evening talking and found ourselves having breakfast at Denny's,” Shannon says. “But the best part is that the date never ended. We went out again the next night and the next. It was finally two weeks into our relationship that I considered holding his hand and 14 years later, I'm still holding his hand!”

We Found Love at a Grip Strength Competition

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Seasoned workout vet and fitness editor Jen Sinkler thought she’d seen it all. That is, until she got invited to a “grip sport competition” at The Movement Minneapolis. “That's right, there are competitions to determine who has the strongest hands,” Jen says. “It was fun to oooh and ahhh at phonebooks being torn in half and nails being bent, but overall, it was this community of slightly offbeat strength athletes that I enjoyed connecting with.” Gym owner David Dellanave was one of them! The two hit it off right away.

About 10 minutes after Jen left his gym, David sent her a Facebook friend request. They then traded phone numbers and, as Jen explains it, “that unleashed the floodgates of communication. We became best friends within a week. Six months later, we became more than best friends."

A year-and-a-half later, the couple is still going strong—literally. “I taught him the Olympic lifts; he taught me a whole bunch of old-time strongman lifts. I relish our time training together. We don't spend all our time under iron, though—we do sprint workouts, go on walks, and do a whole slew of other activities on a more occasional basis… morel mushroom hunting, go-karting, and downhill skiing, to name a few. We also set up a pretty rad badminton set in our backyard this summer and hosted tournaments for our friends nearly every weekend. Doesn't matter what it is—we're both up for it!”

We Found Love at a Snowboarding Park

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No one would describe Monica Nelson as shy. Case in point: When she spotted a cute guy throwing tricks at the local snowboarding park, she decided to get his attention—by beating him. “We would see each other at the same time every day and would secretly be watching one another, showing off our fancy tricks and slams. We were always trying to impress one another!” she laughs.

Mark Nelson finally made a move, asking Monica, "So I would love to take you out, but the only problem is I do not have a car. Can you pick me up instead?” She was impressed by his honesty and loved how "real" he was. “He of course paid for the entire date, was such a gentlemen, and it was love at first sight for us both,” she adds.

Now married for eight-and-a-half years, the pair of personal trainers still love snowboarding together, but they’ve added surfing, walking their bulldogs Eddie and Emma, and going on beach cruiser bike rides to their repertoire. Although Monica admits that coffee dates and movies nights are their favorite activities together.

We Found Love on a StairMaster

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StairMasters were in short supply the day Camille Dulany met Dan Helling, who stood out because he wasn't just on any StairMaster, he was on her StairMaster. The former “big meathead weight lifter” was trying to lose weight in an effort to get a “smaller runner-type” physique, which was why he looked more like he was ready to rob a convenience store in full sweats with the hood up.

Instead of simply conceding the cardio machine, Dan ask Camille to burn calories by walking around the track with him. A few laps later, he asked her out. And the rest is history—23 years of history to be exact.

Together for more than two decades, Camille has learned a lot about how to roll with the punches. The couple loved being active together until Dan fell out of a deer stand last fall and broke his back, all of his ribs, and his foot . “Our active lifestyle has had to change a bit since then,” Camille says, “but we both still love the outdoors and we still go to the YMCA." Dan also lifts weights with their kids and hopes to get back to cardio as soon as his injuries heal.

We Found Love at CrossFit

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Clare Brady is willing to travel to Dublin, Ireland for a Notre Dame/US Naval Academy football game, but to find love? That wasn't in her travel plans. But when she passed a man wearing a ND sweatshirt, it wasn’t just the school affiliation that got her attention. “He asked me to go on a walk with him, but I had to be at a CrossFit class soon and told him I didn't have time. He convinced me I did and said he'd walk me there. He did and before I went into class, I gave him my phone number.”

After touring Dublin together through long runs, Clare accompanied Peter to the Navy Ball. The fun continued back in America when they discovered they both lived in Texas and shared a love of running tours, CrossFit, and working out.“It's been five months since we met in Dublin, and I still can't believe that my fairy tale meeting in a foreign country is working!” Clare says.