Markus and Brooke Trouerbach are the owners of the newly-opened Little Ninja Gym in West Pensacola, located at the intersection of Highway 98 and Blue Angel Parkway, inside the Winn Dixie shopping center in the space that formerly held the old Hallmark store.
Markus and Brooke are the proud parents of a little girl named Ensley, as well as two middle-aged boys. Markus 26 years as a U.S. Marine before retiring, and Brooke is a kindergarten teacher at Longleaf Elementary who has worked in early childhood education for about ten years now.
Markus also has experience teaching martial arts for over 20 yers, and after his departure from the Marines, he decided to open his own martial arts studio in Arkansas. While he had a very loyal student base, many years of being an instructor began to put a lot of wear and tear on his body. In 2016, he went back to school and received his Masters degree in mental health. His wife, Brooke, then convinced him to become a school teacher, which he really enjoyed. Both Markus & Brooke loved working with youth and being able to shape the futures of young people, however, Markus wanted to find a way to combine his many passions into a business venture.
“One of the things I loved about the Marine Corps, both while enlisted and as an officer, was being able to run the obstacle courses,” Markus Trouerbach explained. “You’re going to fail an obstacle at some point. One thing about the Marine Corps is that we instill resilience, and learn how to deal with failure.”
That’s also what Trouerbach loved about teaching marital arts. “You’re gonna get knocked down…that’s what life does to you. We want to be able to teach kids how to deal with that failure.”
Brooke Trouerbach’s love of teaching led her to want to open a safe place for children that prioritized creative learning environments for youth. “We wanted to create a safe place where kids could not only learn, but conquer their fears.”
Brooke says that when the couple would take their small daughter to play at other establishments, Ensley would sometimes be trampled by larger children, and the environments were not always safe for younger children. To have a facility that was monitored by staff, cushioned, protected, and that also allowed for the children to play and be physical, is an important and necessary aspect of play for both parents and kids.
Markus Trouerbach says they plan to listen to feedback from parents and kids on what obstacles to keep and to expand upon. If certain challenges are easy, difficult, or need adjusting, the gym will continuously adapt. Little Ninja Gym will not remain stagnant; the owners plan to make changes as needed in order to reflect the growth of the community and their patrons.
Unlike other similar facilities, Little Ninja Gym offers UNLIMITED play with a flat rate, as opposed to an hourly rate, which may sometimes be difficult for customers to afford. They also offer birthday party rentals, and plan to host various competitions and support local nonprofits through community advocacy.
Markus summed up the Little Ninja Gym business motto in a nutshell, stating, “The kids may not make the obstacles today..they make not make it tomorrow…but we are teaching them about perseverance, about determination…to never give up. We want to instill that in all the kids that come here…We want to inspire kids.”
You can find out more information by visiting LITTLE NINJA GYM on Facebook.