For any business, celebrating a 20th Anniversary is a big deal. When they’re two businesses that reside side-by-side, that’s worth celebrating! Here in Downtown Chaska, both Fitness First and Lynn Laumann Photography on Second Street are celebrating twenty years of success, and we’re proud to have them in our community and share their stories!
“I began delivering papers to fifty customers when I was seven years old and opened my first checking account at the same age. My dad had to cosign my checks because at that age I was only able to print my name on the checks. During this time my brother and I had approximately eight lawn mowing customers with assistance from my dad. He purchased two lawn mowers and covered the gas, maintenance, etc. As long as my parent’s lawn was always mowed, the money we earned was profit. Many of the lawn customers hired us for snow removal as well. Eventually, we purchased a snowblower and completely paid for it in one winter. I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur, however looking back maybe the entrepreneurial path began for me a long time ago.”
Decades later, Steve Ritz is celebrating the 20th Anniversary commemorating the founding of Fitness First with locations in Chaska and Excelsior. Steve earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gustavus Adolphus College, and a Master of Arts degree majoring in Exercise Physiology from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He is also certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Some highlights in his career as a fitness professional include Assistant Strength and Conditioning coach for the MN Vikings and training both major and minor league players for the Cleveland Indians Organization. Steve has also had involvement in various college and high school settings including Villanova University, North Dakota State University, Gustavus Adolphus College, and Anoka High School.
Eventually, Steve’s career path led him back to Minnesota, specifically Chaska where he reconnected with a man who was in search of professional strength training for his son. The boy was a soccer player at Blake High School. The formal connection took place at the Chaska Community Center at 1:30 on Friday during MEA break in 1997. “I possessed the knowledge as a result of my academic accomplishments and experience because of the professional path I traveled. Even though I had the knowledge and experience, I lacked two important ingredients. I did not have equipment or a space to work with people interested in strength training appointments. However, it was an opportunity for me to establish my presence in the community. Regardless of missing these two ingredients, the father was very interested in having his son train with me. The situation was not ideal, but I chose to heed the advice of a mentor from my younger years. When life presents opportunity always say yes because with intelligence and hard work success often will follow.”
Steve did say yes and began training the Blake soccer player and a teammate with other athletes and adults to follow. He soon began searching for space in Downtown Chaska which lead him to Second Street, the initial home in 1998 for two years followed by a move in 2000 to the current location at 115 East Second Street.
Reflecting back twenty years later, Steve shares, “I didn’t choose Chaska. Chaska chose me!”
Today, with his education and combined experience in professional and collegiate athletics, Steve is leading Fitness First into the next twenty years. An appointment only strength training clinic, Fitness First combines the power of professionally educated and experienced instructors with industry leading commercial grade equipment and a scientific, evidence-based customized exercise prescription. As they share, “We commit to building genuine relationships with each client and help them to get stronger for their journey.” This means whether you’re a time-strapped professional, a competitive athlete, an active grandparent, or an adventurous mom, they will help.
What excites Steve about the next twenty years? “I love the relationships we develop. I am a people person and I have a passion for how the body works. Fitness First allows me the opportunity to share my passion with people daily, in addition to forming strong relationships. Our clients become friends who happen to do business with us. I am very blessed to have the combination!”
LYNN LAUMANN PHOTOGRAPHY
“When I was fifteen years old, I brought my camera with me to a babysitting job. It was a manual film camera… before the days of digital. While I was with the kids, I took their pictures, and then I brought the film to my dad. Two weeks later, once I got the pictures back, I went back to babysit again and brought the mom the photos. She cried, and the look in her eye captured me. I was immediately hooked by the idea that my photos could bring that much joy to someone.”
That was the launchpad for Lynn Laumann’s career as a professional photographer.
“Later in life, I had three children and was a stay-at-home mom. Budgets were tight, and so when my friends had new babies, I would offer to take their baby pictures as my gift. With three kids under the age of three, I started my business.”
She began her work in Waconia and moved to Chaska in 2016. She had been looking for a new studio space, and was drawn to Chaska as the perfect location for her outdoor sessions. “It just felt right, and it had everything I wanted to find. The Chaska brick, the lakes, the river, the trees, the parks, the flowers… everything I wanted was right here!”
Twenty years later, Lynn Laumann Photography on Second Street in Chaska is celebrating their 20th Anniversary, and if you haven’t met Lynn, you’ve likely heard about her. Her energy is contagious, and she brings an outgoing spirit to everything she does. You’ll see her with her camera out and about during almost every Chaska event, no matter the season, and she is continually capturing the essence of our community in her work.
From senior photo sessions and family portraits to taking business headshots and product photography, Lynn’s goal is simple. “I love taking people out of their comfort zone, getting them smiling and laughing, and make them feel comfortable. When it comes to family photos, these moments only come once – they grow up so fast! I’m here to help capture those moments for years to come!”
Twenty years into owning her studio, what gets Lynn out of bed in the morning? “I love when a mom comes in to pick up her proofs and sheds a tear as she tells me she loves how I captured her children. I also have a passion for business, and for helping other businesses capture who they are and what makes them unique in pictures. When I’m doing that, I’m doing what I love!”
Lynn Laumann Photography and Fitness First are two great examples of businesses that are helping make Downtown Chaska thrive! If you haven’t visited them yet, stop in and check them out. They’ll be excited to meet you!