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Taking shape

September 12, 2011
By Deb Gau ( , Marshall Independent

BALATON - The music stands and chairs are long gone from what had been the band room at the former Balaton Public School. If everything goes well, Dana Benson said, they'll be replaced by exercise equipment before too long.

For the past seven months, the school's old music rooms, now part of the Ralco Technology Campus in Balaton, have been undergoing a slow transformation. Local residents and business partners Dana Benson and Staci Lustfield hope to turn the space into Body Tech Fitness, a new local fitness center.

Body Tech hopes to be ready for an open house in mid-October, Benson said.

Article Photos

Photo by Deb Gau
An American flag decorated scaffolding being used to renovate the former Balaton School band room during a construction break Friday. Co-owners Dana Benson and Staci Lustfield (not pictured) of Balaton are turning the room into a fitness center.

Benson said the idea for the business came as a way to provide more amenities for Balaton residents. After moving to Balaton from the Twin Cities area, Benson said, he was looking for a place to continue his fitness regimen. He also thought other residents would also be interested in being able to work out without having to travel to Marshall or Tracy. If Ralco's new campus attracts more residents to town, local interest may also grow, he said.

The proposal for a fitness center was brought to Ralco at just the right time - the company hadn't yet moved into the old music rooms, Benson said. Throughout the process of getting permission to lease the rooms and renovating them for fitness equipment, he said, "(Ralco) has been really helpful. The whole time, they've been just a bunch of great guys."

A lot of the work so far has involved updating the rooms' heating and ventilation systems, pulling up old floor tiles, even some roof repairs, Benson said. When it's refurbished, the old band room will hold equipment like weights and treadmills, while adjacent rooms will serve as offices and space for additional equipment.

"It will have some of the things we haven't really seen around here," Benson said, like a heavy punching bag and a speed bag. Customers will also be able to give their input as to what kind of equipment they would like to have at the center.

The fitness center will be accessible through a key card security system and will have security cameras, Benson said. The center will also make use of the school's locker rooms, after some checks and possible repairs are made. "If anything needs to be replaced, we'll replace it," Benson said.

Benson said the plan is for the school gymnasium to be open two to three days a week as well, working around athletics schedules for the Tracy Area School District.

People with questions about Body Tech memberships can call 507-734-6023, or e-mail at



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