Fitness for two: Couples reap health benefits from shared physical exercise

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Sometimes, a tinge of competition seeps into the physical fitness activities that Lee Rerick and her husband, Randy Severson, love to do together.

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Warming up for the start of the Fargo marathon May 10. Photo by Haley Rerick.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Sometimes, a tinge of competition seeps into the physical fitness activities that Lee Rerick and her husband, Randy Severson, love to do together.

“We might do a little bit of friendly ribbing,” she said.

But mostly, mutual support of each other’s fitness goals keeps them going, and any competitiveness only spurs a desire to boost personal performance, she said.

The Grand Forks couple regularly work out at Choice Health & Fitness, where they take a variety of classes including spinning and weight-training.

Mutual support is “pretty important” to sticking with their exercise routine, she said.


“If one person doesn’t feel like going (to the gym), the other does. We encourage each other.”

At 5:30 a.m., she and Severson start their day at the fitness center, spending two hours in workout sessions before heading to their jobs at Altru Health System in Grand Forks.

“It’s a great way to start the day - doing something that feels good and is good for you,” Rerick said. “It affects how we socialize and who we socialize with.”

The pair enjoys exercising and spending time together, away from the demands of kids and work, she said.

“It keeps us in good enough shape (so) we can do things on vacation, like hiking. We travel well together because we both like to do the same things.”



She credits her husband with helping her to maintain a consistent workout schedule.   


“Once I take time off, I tend to take a lot of time off,” she said. “With Randy (whom she married last year), the lapses have been fewer and shorter.”

Rerick, 52, and Severson, 59, have also become active runners.

“We run to keep our weight in check,” she said. “We both like to eat.”          

Four years ago, they entered their first relay race as part of the Fargo Marathon, she said. That experience “spurred us on to do more things together.”

They’ve competed in relay, 5K and 10K races.

Last fall, they entered the local Uff Da Mud Run, which challenges participants’ skills in a series of wall- and rope-climbing, swimming, arm-crawling and other physically demanding tests along a four-mile obstacle course.

This month, they plan to enter their second Fargo Marathon and, this fall, another Uff Da Mud Run in Grand Forks.

It’s setting and reaching their goals that “makes it fun,” she said.



Fit for wedding  

Having a goal in mind also prompted Kalie Jordahl to start working out with a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness in Grand Forks.

She wanted to get in better shape for her September wedding to fiancé, Lee Glatt, she said. Her interest in committing to an exercise regimen spurred his.

“Once I was trying to start, he got on board.”

The Grand Forks couple had tried other gyms and home workout programs, “but we never really stuck with it,” said Glatt, 26.

With home workout programs, “it’s very easy to not do it,” he said. “You can come home and think, ‘golly, I’m tired today’ and just stop halfway through it.”

In February, he and Jordahl, 25, began working with Dustin McWilliams at Anytime Fitness several times a week. They also work out at the gym, on their own, another two or three times a week, practicing exercises they’ve learned.


They do a form of training that gives them an all-around body workout, Glatt said.

It includes the use of row machines, bikes, lifting, running and “Olympic-style moves that have been around forever,” Jordahl said.


‘Positive encouragement’

“We set goals,” she said. “We give each other positive encouragement.”

“We push each other,” Glatt added. “If we don’t work out on the weekend, we can feel it on Monday. You feel sluggish.”        

Since February, together, they have lost a total of 50 pounds, they said.

Being in the exercise program together - and supporting each other - is “absolutely crucial,” said Glatt.


“If one person is sitting on the couch and the other is going to the gym, it’s incredibly difficult.”

Jordahl said, “Now, when I reach for a chocolate, I think about how many sit-ups I’ll have to do” to work off the calories.

To some extent, they compete with each other, Glatt said. “But it’s healthy competition, for the most part.”

“It’s knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Jordahl said.

“And knowing when to back off,” Glatt added.

McWilliams said, “If one is ahead on the workout, the other works harder.

“It’s a partnership; they help motivate each other a lot.”

Certain physical movements come easy because of her flexibility, Jordahl said.


But “Lee can run circles around me - especially in long-distance running,” she said, turning to him, “You’d beat me by a mile.”

Glatt admits to being “a little more intense” about competing, but so far it’s been positive, he said. “At the end of the day, we want what’s best for each other.”  

That’s what they want for their daughter, Josslyn, 3, too, Jordahl said.

“We set individual goals and, equally, we want to get stronger together. We want to pass that on to our daughter - a healthier way of life.”   


Health benefits

The more they work out, the less important weight loss becomes, she said.

“At first, it was about weight, I was focused on the number on the scale. Now, it’s all about strength and overall fitness.”

Instead of a “chore,” going for a workout has been become something they look forward to, Glatt said.

Working out regularly raises their individual self-confidence, increases their sense of accomplishing goals and “gives us energy throughout the day,” she said. “It helps all around in life.”  

It affects their relationship and how they interact when they come home from stressful jobs that are “mentally and physically demanding,” she said.

“Instead of stressing on each other, we throw it into the weights,” Glatt said.

“We told Dustin (exercise) was our couples’ therapy,” Jordahl said with a smile.     

“It’s make us stronger as a whole,” she said. “It helps that we have this in common. We are passionate about it.”  

“It’s fun to see each other succeed.”

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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