Strandell puts her heart and soul into new downtown fitness center

Strandell puts her heart and soul into new downtown fitness center Carol Strandell has transformed the old Thompson Lumber Company building, located on the corner of Court and Kidder streets into Heart & Soul, a fitness center. She has taken full advantage of the historic building's high ceilings, wide open spaces and large windows. Weighted equipment takes up most of the first floor, which also houses spacious shower and bathrooms, lockers, a juice and snack bar and offices. A huge variety of free weights and benches are found on the second floor, and Yoga, kickboxing, aerobics, Pilates and step classes are also held on the second floor. Take an old, historic building slowly moving toward its demise, add a bit of courage, a large measure of vision and heaps of energy from one of the town's citizens and, "voila!" you have a dream made into reality and the restoration of a 1920 building in the process.

Carol Strandell knew what she wanted to do with the old Thompson Lumber Company building on the corner of Court and Kidder streets the first time she set foot in the building. With large windows, high ceilings and huge open spaces, it would be perfect for a fitness center.

The windows were in perfect placement to catch the sun's rays that were sure to boost moods. The 13-foot ceiling and open spaces would further assist in keeping people energetic and moving toward their goals.

With her ideas in place, Strandell moved quickly. She came up with a business plan and financing, drew up plans with her contractor and went to work. In just a few months, the mother of two was opening the doors of Heart & Soul Fitness.

She also found time to apply for registry of the building with the state and national Historic Preservation organizations. Mindful of what the building once was, Strandell had huge expanses of tile and linoleum removed to show the oak and fir floors. Then the floors were sanded and varnished. She found and installed the same style windows used in the original construction and removed the Masonite that had covered the ceilings for years. She even found brick to match and patched a 4 foot-by-4 foot hole left on the exterior of the building when it was hit by an automobile in years past.

"I loved this old building the moment I set foot in it," Strandell says, looking up from her desk in her office on the first floor of the center. "I knew it would be perfect for my kind of fitness center."

Strandell's "kind of fitness center" is one that addresses the whole body, including the spiritual. It also must be welcoming to everyone, young and old, in shape and out-of-shape, physical and non-physical.

"This isn't just for those who are into body building," Strandell says. "It isn't just for the young. Nor is it just for women. This place is for everyone who wants to get into shape and obtain energy and fun in the process."

Customers have several options to choose from. A full line of weighted equipment takes up most of the first floor, which also houses spacious shower and bathrooms, lockers, a juice and snack bar and offices. A huge variety of free weights and benches are found on the second floor. Yoga, kickboxing, aerobics, Pilates and step classes also take place on the second floor.

Strandell has hired trainers who work closely with customers to create a personal fitness plan for them, instruct classes and assist wherever needed.

Fitness center member Virginia Monroe not only is impressed with the exercise machines, which she says are top notch, she is impressed with Strandell's efforts.

"She has done a first class job," says Monroe, a retired USD professor. "I hope it's going to be a raving success. Everyone should come and take a look."

The center, across from the U.S. Post Office on Court Street, is open week days from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. except for Friday when it closes at 6 p.m. Saturdays it opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 2 p.m. Sunday hours are from noon to 6 p.m.

Strandell has her hands full today, but she's already dreaming about the future. Maybe dance classes? Or, how about a small cafe nestled in a corner?

It might take a bit of time, but a mixture of energy, enthusiasm, and vision one finds in Strandell has to keep moving and creating.

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