29 Dec Temple Story
Brooks Buerk isn’t your typical downtown Delray Beach businessman.
Whether it’s the long hair, the board shorts, the fight t-shirt or the flip flops he’s wearing – Brooks probably wouldn’t fit in at his local Kiwanas meeting – but it wouldn’t take long for his boyish charm to work it’s wonders on the jacket and tie crowd. More at home out on the waves or skate ramps than the boardroom – Brooks has found a way to succeed – regardless of people’s pre-determined ideas.
Brooks is realizing his dream – co-owning and operating one of Delray Beach’s newest gym hotspot, Temple Martial Arts & Fitness – but it was a dream that hasn’t come easy.
Though, born and bred in Delray Beach, Brooks first got into martial arts while completing his marketing degree in Jacksonville, at University of North Floriday. He started training Muay Thai kickboxing at a local facility called “The Yard” – where the fighters were tough and the instructors, tougher.
Brooks loved that toughness and fell in love with Muay Thai immediately. As a former blossoming skateboarder, he was used to picking himself up and dusting himself off. Which is good, because that was something he had to do often in the beginning of his training…
But as his love and respect for the sport of Muay Thai grew, so did his skills. He devoured information and in the early days of the internet – that wasn’t an easy feat. He learned techniques however he could and used them to develop into a seasoned and knowledgeable fighter.
After graduation, Brooks moved back home to Delray Beach and furthered his training wherever he could. The problem? 13 years ago, South Florida wasn’t the martial arts hotbed that it has become now. There weren’t many places close enough for him to train at and work his full time job as a high-end maintenance technician.
So, being the innovative go-getter that he is – he expanded his horizons – and entering into the world of boxing. Boxing came easy to Brooks as his background in Muay Thai helped him to pick up the sport quickly and easily. It wasn’t long until Brooks became a certified instructor for the US Boxing Association.
And he didn’t stop there…
Brooks also began training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under a pair of local grapplers, The Hodgens Brothers to add another element to his already dangerous arsenal. The lessons with the Hodgens brothers continued till they ended up closing their school to pursue other interests – but that didn’t mean Brooks stopped training. He continued his education in BJJ with a friend of the Hodgens Brothers, Bryan Whitehead, and the two became friends – exchanging services with each other so as to not have to pay out of pocket.
It was that partnership that opened Brooks’ eyes to teaching.
Brooks began using his US Boxing certification to start teaching both boxing and Muay Thai kickboxing to his group of close-knit friends from his old neighborhood. Not to make money (at least not yet) just to sharpen his own skills and to teach his buddies a thing or two about fighting.
But Brooks had a knack for teaching. His friends thoroughly enjoyed his lessons – so much in fact – that they started paying him a modest fee for lessons and began telling all their friends. Not having a gym to teach at, Brooks started “holding mitts” in the serene surroundings of Veterans Park. People would often stop and watch – some of them just watching the how – while there were others that would stop and inquire how they could start taking lessons themselves.
Brooks new he was on to something. So he set up a small gym at the house he was renting – nothing big – just a speed bag and heavy bag. Brooks always says that “the secret to hitting isn’t learned by hitting things hard, it’s learned by hitting things right.” So most of Brooks lessons were and continue to be just the client, him and a pair of mitts. It’s his attention to detail and correct technique that has set him apart from his competitors.
So a business was born – and it followed him to his next home.
Brooks rented a house with 3 bedrooms with his now fiancé, Anna. Not because they were saving room for any future babies – but because Brooks wanted to turn one of the rooms into his own personal dojo. Refusing to call his growing group of students a “school” – Brooks created the Temple Muay Thai Club. And friends who joined ended up paying dues to offset the cost of electricity, water and refreshments. Though his student base was growing – Brooks really wasn’t making money off his endeavor, as it is for most labors of love.
But he saw the potential…
This potential is what drove him to rent a space in downtown Delray, just North of Linton – the second incarnation of the Temple Muay Thai Club was now open for business in a room that was no bigger than 500 square feet. Brooks used his sweat, money, friends and family to build out his new facility – and his attention to detail made it less of a martial arts gym than an art show room.
In a little over a year, Brooks was already thinking about expansion. The only problem? Again, Brooks wasn’t really making enough money. Most of his fees went to paying for the rent and water in Temple. He knew that in order to become a moneymaking endeavor – he had to grow. He was just waiting for the right opportunity.
Enter Lee Probst.
Lee Probst came to Temple Martial Arts Club as a student in search of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Brooks had recently recruited friend, and world champion BJJ practitioner, Shawn Ambrosino, to teach classes at Temple two nights a week. For a year, Lee showed up religiously to BJJ classes – excelling nicely. But, unbeknownst to Brooks, Lee, an established and successful sales representative in the sports supplement industry – had a dream of his own.
Lee’s dream was to become a full time personal trainer – so much so that he got his certification while working on growing some of the biggest names in sports supplements. However, with a wife and two beautiful daughters at home, it was the safer play to continue to stay on the path he was already successful in. “Some day” became his mantra.
A year into Lee walking through the doors of The Temple, he had struck up friendships with his fellow students – as often happens in the martial arts world – and that included a friendship with Brooks. The two got to talking one day. Brooks was ready to expand. The 500 square foot space he was renting was just to small to really foster any real growth in his business. Brooks infectious enthusiasm reignited Lee’s dream of personal training and the two began making plans.
It wasn’t too long before Lee gave notice to his company and dove head first into creating MVMNT FX brand, a unique and highly effective system of training that focuses on natural movement exercises. The two then combined forces and found the perfect spot in downtown Delray. Then, just two months and a lot of hard work later, Lee and Brooks opened The Temple Martial Arts and Fitness club – or as they often call it, Temple 2.0.
Located just north of Atlantic Avenue on Federal – Temple is quickly creating a buzz in the area. Frequented by UFC fighters and NFL players – people are realizing fast just what two guys with a dream can accomplish. Temple is a one-off blend of the best of both worlds – taking the best parts of martial arts and the best parts of boutique fitness – and blending them into one of the most distinctive gyms Delray Beach or even South Florida has ever seen.
All due the grit and headstrong attitude of a local Delray kid – who’s roots run deep – and his friendships deeper. If you want to meet Brooks or Lee – you’ll find them at Temple most of the time or you can find them at the beach when the waves are cranking. Either way, Temple is evidence of one thing…
That dreams really do come true.