Traveling the world while growing their startup, Ryan and Alex Duo Life, Ryan Gleason ’10 and his wife Alex are living their greatest adventure.
In 2010, Ryan Gleason had just graduated from Winona State. He’d landed his first job with RTP in Winona, and his brand-new career in composite materials engineering was taking off. On top of that, he had just met his future wife, Alex, who had also just started working for RTP.
Ryan and Alex bonded over a deep-rooted love for an active outdoor lifestyle. They made the most of what Winona had to offer, enjoying fishing trips, motorcycle rides through bluff country, running races around the lakes, and hikes up to Garvin Heights or Sugar Loaf.
At the same time, they continued down their career paths together, each growing ever-more successful. They loved the people they worked with and were continually given opportunities for growth. But as the hustle and bustle of their daily lives took over, they were left with less time for the active outdoor life they craved.
In 2013, Alex was still with RTP but Ryan had moved on to work for H.B. Fuller. They each received opportunities to work abroad in Shanghai, China and jumped at the chance. Shortly after arriving, Ryan ruptured his Achilles tendon while playing lacrosse – leaving him unable to work out for six months. He recalled that the event “made me appreciate my body more than ever and I was determined to make my health a priority from that point on.”
He and Alex decided to start doing their own research and experiment to become the healthiest versions of themselves. They relied on each other for accountability, and Ryan took it a step further to begin an online group for others with similar health goals – ultimately becoming a health coach as a side-gig. “Interestingly enough,” he said, “a single question kept coming up: ‘How do I get my spouse to become healthy with me?’” That was what initially sparked their idea for Ryan and Alex Duo Life.
The vision for their new venture was to help couples engineer a life they love with the love of their life, believing that a healthy lifestyle and marriage is attainable and sustainable when the duo commits together. Ryan and Alex Duo Life guides couples to start a fitness and/or nutrition program together and holds them accountable via online groups and other tools.
Their new venture has also allowed them to engineer a life they love. Up until early 2018, Ryan and Alex Duo Life had just been a side-gig. But in March 2018, they decided to commit full-time to their new venture, packing up to travel and learn about health from other cultures. Since then, they’ve been traveling around South America and moving their “home base” every three months, already experiencing Ecuador, Argentina, Peru and Colombia, among others.
Ryan said that one of the biggest benefits they have now is full control of their greatest asset – their time. “We still work about 40 hours a week, but when nature calls and the weather forecast is bright, we have the freedom to go out and explore.” He continued to say that a few of their favorite memories from the past year have included spelunking in Tayos Cave in the Ecuadorian Amazon, summiting Lanin Volcano on the snowy Chilean and Argentine border and backpacking up to 17,000 feet in the Peruvian Andes.
But Ryan and Alex work as hard as they play. Starting a new business as an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but luckily Ryan said that his Winona State education prepared him well for entrepreneurship. He uses skills he learned at WSU on a daily basis – whether it’s his problem-solving skills with the technical aspects of running an online business; his engineering skills to optimize their business’ health, mindset, productivity and tools to support their customers; or his public speaking skills.
The impact they’re making on others is evident, Ryan said. “We’ve had people who have lost 100+ pounds, stopped taking anxiety, depression, cholesterol, and blood pressure medications, and inspired other family members to work out for the first time in years. For us, our biggest impact is when we succeed at inspiring a couple to work out and live a healthy lifestyle together. It’s incredibly rewarding to play a positive and impactful role in people’s lives.”