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Following passion, Cottage Grove woman opens ‘real’ gym

Cottage Grove resident Laura Devine grew up wanting to be a doctor.

Her undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota led her down the path of physiology and soon into the hospital for pre-med courses. Yet, all the while her real passion was in the gym. Her dedication to bettering others through fitness led her to open her Real Fit Workout Studio in Cottage Grove, Minn. “Real Fit Workout Studio is a word play off the word real,” Devine explained. “I’ve been in clubs and other settings where it feels like the people aren’t real, almost like they are fake. Most people out there aren’t comfortable in an environment where everybody is super fit. I wanted Real Fit Workout Studio to feel welcoming for everybody.”

As a child, Devine was always very active. She learned from her parents’ active lifestyles and incorporated that into her college extracurricular activities. While studying pre-med courses as a Minnesota Golden Gopher, Devine was trained as an aerobics instructor. And when she wasn’t studying the human body in class, she was working it in the gym.

“I loved teaching aerobics,” Devine said. “I was taking the pre-med prerequisites and found that I didn’t have the same passion for medicine as I did for fitness. That’s when I asked myself how I could make this fitness thing work for me.” In 2007, after leaving a corporate job in a downtown Minneapolis office, Devine convinced her husband and father-in-law to build an 800-square-foot addition to their home, which she transformed into a workout oasis. “I was fortunate to have built up my clientel base before I opened the studio,” she said. She offered classes to co-workers, would travel to clients’ homes and even used her own bedroom for sessions. “I was ready to take the next step.”

It took the entire summer but once the doors finally opened in the fall, Devine said her ambitions came full circle. “It’s an awesome thing to be able to basically walk through my garage for my commute,” she said with a laugh. “The coolest thing about my studio is that small group setting that you can’t get at a club. You also get camaraderie with your workout buddies and we all develop great friendships.” Five days a week, Devine leads several classes in strength training, cardio kickboxing, spin and yoga. Certified through the American Council of Exercise and the Yoga Alliance, she continues to be a go-to personal trainer for many in the Cottage Grove area.

“I’ve always had the support of my family and clients, but the Small Business of the Year award shows that I also have the support of the community as well,” Devine said. “It’s a huge honor. We keep proving to people that working out can be fun.”