Five years later, still going strong Heart and Soul's anniversary is Sept. 1 By: David Lias
Plain Talk Carol Strandell knew there were some risks involved when, of all the places to locate a fitness center in Vermillion, she chose the former Sears building that towers over Court Street west of the post office. A gaping hole in the brick wall scarred the south side of the building on Kidder Street. The windows along that wall were filled-in with glass blocks, installed some time after World War II. The scene inside of the building was even worse than the outside. Strewn with debris throughout, it had filthy dropped ceilings and layers of linoleum on the floor. Old equipment and store furniture filled most of both the first and second stories. â�?�?Despite this, I could imagine this space in its heyday, the 1920s, showcasing lumber, building supplies and farm implements in the big windows across the street from the post office,â�? Strandell said. At the end of 2002, Vermillionâ�?�?s only full service gym closed. Strandell decided to try to fill that void. Her banker suggested she purchase some good equipment, buy or lease a property and create a quality gym in a sound building. Despite the less than ideal condition of the Sears building, Strandell found herself attracted to it. â�?�?I have always loved older buildings and had long imagined the â�?�?potentialâ�?�? of the building at 15 Court Street,â�? she said. â�?�?It really needed someone to fix it up. It had â�?�?good bonesâ�?�? and I was confident it would make a beautiful gym. And, it would make downtown Vermillion so much better.â�? On Sept. 1, 2003 Heart and Soul opened its doors.�? �? â�?�?With the help of my husband, John Banasiak, and scores of others including my banker, the SBA, and various local contractors and businesses, we were able to transform the building,â�? Strandell said. Workers repaired the holes in the walls and roof. They installed new windows on each of the buildingâ�?�?s floors. �? â�?�?Once all the debris and old equipment was taken away, we removed the dropped ceilings and pulled up the linoleum. Exposed, the wood beams and floors were truly handsome,â�? she said. The Heart and Soul Building has new electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems. The basement has been newly refurbished just this year.�? â�?�?We were proud to ensure that our 15,000 square foot building (not including the basement) would be designated â�?�?historicâ�? by the South Dakota Historic Preservation Society,â�? Strandell said. â�?�?The Heart and Soul building is also on the National Historical Register.â�? Strandell discovered, as she developed her business plan, that just the first floor of the building would not be enough. To remedy that problem, the second story oak floors were refinished. The back third of the second floor was also walled off and a free weight gym was installed in that area. â�?�?Once we opened we saw the need to offer group fitness classes,â�? she said. â�?�?We completed the remaining portion of the second floor and created a ballet and exercise studio.â�?�? A Pickle Ball court was fit into the space as well.�? â�?�?We now have an additional cardio area upstairs with a television and DVD player for use while using the equipment or for those wishing to check out an exercise DVD from our large fitness library,â�? Strandell said. �? Heart and Soul has kept evolving over the years to meet the needs of its members. Today the first floor houses weighted and cardiovascular equipment on the south side. This is where our members check in.�? Towards the back of the first floor are shower rooms and a handicapped accessible bathroom.�? â�?�?In 2006 we added a tanning and massage salon to the first floor. In 2007, when the local Curves closed, we added our Pace Circuit Training studio, a program similar to Curves,â�? Strandell said. â�?�?We now have the pleasure of the wonderful early morning workout women, many of whom had been using the Curves program. There is an additional multi-use studio on the first floor added in 2007.â�? The past five years have been challenging and rewarding, she said. â�?�?(Opening Heart and Soul) has been, for me personally, very satisfying. Even more gratifying has been getting to know our members and see them change their lives,â�? Strandell said. â�?�?We strive to be the best part of our membersâ�?�? day, every day.â�?
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