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Hidden Gems: Meet Brooke Aderhold of Destiny Martial Arts Academy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brooke Aderhold.

Hi Brooke, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I started training in martial arts at the age of 9 in 2001. My dad, Master David Roberts, was running the school and it just made sense to do it with him and my sister. Little did I know how much of an impact martial arts would have on my life.

I didn’t have the easiest of childhoods with separated/divorced parents to deal with alcohol abuse in my family. Martial arts ended up being that 2nd family for me that I never knew I needed. It helped me in so many ways by building my confidence, teaching me how to defend myself, handle my high functioning anxiety, and overall how to be a better person in society.

I began teaching martial arts in 2004. I received my 1st-degree black belt in 2006, 2nd degree in 2008, and 3rd degree in 2012. I had the honor and privilege to test for the rank of 4th degree Master in 2019, which is a 2-year process. Due to COVID delays, I received the rank of Master in August 2021.

As I grew older, trying to decide where I wanted to go in life, I originally wanted to be an Optometrist. My grandfather was an optometrist who I was close with and looked up to. He passed away in 2004 and I wanted to be like him.

Once I started college, I quickly realized that college life was not going to be for me, especially for another 8 years. I definitely burned myself out in high school with many Honors and AP classes. I also had up to 3 jobs at one point in my senior year. I dropped out of college after my freshman year.

I jumped around a few jobs from working at a hotel, and waiting tables, and ended up as an Optician for almost 8 years. Around the time I took the position as an Optician in 2012, my dad moved to North Carolina to take care of my late grandpa (Papa).

This was when I took on more responsibility and began running the day-to-day operations of the martial arts school as a business partner with my dad. This is when I realized this is where I was meant to be. Martial Arts has always been my passion and I knew the benefits would help so many in our community. I finally realized this was my new career path.

In 2016, I created a very close relationship with Lucas Aderhold. At the time, he was an instructor under Master Chris Pacini in Gilbert who was actually a student of my dad’s. Being in the World Tang Soo Do Association, there were several events where our region and association come together.

Lucas and I had known each other for years, but our paths finally crossed at the right time. We began dating in September 2016 and he immediately started to visit our school more often.

In 2018, my dad decided to give the business to me 100%. I made the decision to close “Arrowhead Tang Soo Do” and create “Destiny Martial Arts Academy” but we were still in the local YMCA at the time and I was still working as an optician. At this same time, Lucas transferred to become a part of Destiny. I can honestly say without Lucas’ support and extra push, the business would not be where it is today.

Throughout 2018, it was clear that we needed to get out of the YMCA. We had grown the program as much as we could for being at that location. During that year, we came up with a business plan, received funding, and were able to sign a lease in early 2019. We moved to our very own Brick and Mortar location in March of 2019. Lucas and I were engaged by June of 2019.

As we all know, COVID-19 hit small businesses HARD in 2020, and we were no exception. In the first 2 weeks of the shutdown, we lost 25% of our student base and quickly adapted and started to teach virtual classes through zoom and recorded curriculum videos. Our wedding was supposed to be in April of 2020.

After canceling and rescheduling our wedding, we finally were able to get married on October 16th, 2020. Our wedding of over 100 guests was now 25. Although this was not the wedding I dreamed of as a child, it was a perfect and beautiful day that we were able to spend with those closest to us.

In order to keep the business alive, we decided I needed to be giving all of my attention to growing and improving the business. I was able to quit my full-time position as an Optician in June of 2020 and became a full-time business owner.

This decision alone has taken us to the next level, and I am so excited to see what else is in store for us and the business. The next major step for us is to have the ability for Lucas to be able to quit his day job and also be in the business 100%.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
One thing I have learned in life is nothing is easy. And those things that are most important to us are not going to be easy.

One example is: That moving from the YMCA to our own location, was a huge leap of faith and added a lot more pressure and stress. It was my financial wealth on the line if things go south. Very shortly after opening, we realized we were not up to code with the city, which I knew nothing about as a new business owner.

$15,000 and several headaches and setbacks later, we were finally up to code after about 1 year and a half. This was money not budgeted for and funds began to run low. We ended up needing more funding at the start of COVID to stay afloat. Which we have and are now continuing to grow and improve!

I’m sure there are many other struggles we have overcome. Any small business owner would agree there will always be bumps in the road. As long as you have the mindset to persevere and pivot, you will remain successful. This is the biggest lesson I have learned over the last few years.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Destiny Martial Arts Academy?
Destiny Martial Arts Academy, located in Peoria, AZ, teaches the martial arts of Tang Soo Do and is a member of the World Tang Soo Do Association. We teach all ages starting at age 4 all the way up to adults. We specialize in character development and life skills, teaching our students confidence, discipline, focus, and respect.

We strive to be a family-friendly atmosphere where families can join our program and train together. We get feedback constantly that we have our very own community within Destiny and the students love it. Destiny Martial Arts Academy is a safe place for those of all walks of life to be able to come together and learn the art of Tang Soo Do all while improving themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually.

We have a Tiny Tigers & Little Dragons program for those ages 4-7. Our Youth program is for ages 8-12 and is separated into beginner and advanced ranks. Our Teen/Adult program is for mature teens and adults ages 13 and up. We also offer fun activities like Parents Night Outs, Birthday Parties, and Summer Camps!

Anyone at any age or fitness level will find they fit right into our program, no matter where you are. So come try us out and come as you are!

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
My dad and instructor, Master David Roberts, are the reason I am where I am today.

His drive and commitment to the school and our family for all of those years set an example for the type of instructor and business owner I want to be. He has always been one of my top supporters, even in times of struggle. Any time I have the chance to talk to him, he reminds me of how far I come and how proud he is, which is important for me to hear with my own anxiety and mental health issues.

My husband, Lucas Aderhold, is the reason we made the jump from being in the YMCA to our own location. He asked me why we aren’t working toward it, when I didn’t have an answer, we both knew it was time to start the process.

Lucas is the hidden backbone of the studio and is constantly helping with projects and figuring out where to improve or the next steps to take in the business. He is at the studio running classes and helping out every day we are open, all while still holding a full-time job. Meanwhile, I get the “dream job” of full-time martial arts school owner.

Our instructors and assistants are who really keep classes moving and growing. If Lucas and I had to run every class, every day, on our own, we would easily have burned out and our bodies given out. There are too many to name, but all of them have had a hand in keeping Destiny Martial Arts Academy alive and where it is today.

I have had many mentors along the way, and regularly am receiving information and help from several of them. Again, too many to name, but they have been a huge help in figuring out all of the ins and outs of running a martial arts school.


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Image Credits
Old Soul Imagery (Rachelle Owens)

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