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A Dream Fulfilled

Bonners Ferry home to world-renowned fitness and martial arts studio

By Jillian Chandler

Photo By Colten Wenger

Five years ago, Bonners Ferry was introduced to the art of Jiu-Jitsu thanks to Sam Brown. Though small in size, this was just the first big dream realized. Sam was excited to open the doors to his studio’s intimate space, where he would train those of all ages in the local community, and beyond, in this traditional art form.

But that was just the beginning. Sam’s goal was to ultimately find a much larger facility to not only house his martial arts studio but combine it with the aspects of a traditional gym, which he had prior experience working.

That dream would come to fruition in February of 2020, when Sam, along with his business partners, which include his wife, Diana Brown, Brad Anderson, Jarrod Christman and Aileen Arcinas opened Apex Fitness & Martial Arts at 6686 Main Street. Here you will find an all-ages state-of-the-art facility offering everything from group fitness, Zumba and gymnastics to Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing and Taekwondo—with more to come!

“Not only are we a unique business model for the North Idaho region but for most of the world!” smiles Sam proudly. He and his co-owners are thrilled to not only provide Bonners Ferry and the surrounding communities with a fitness and martial arts studio in one location but highly skilled, experienced and motivated instructors for each segment.

The team members that make up the Apex facility come from all over the U.S. yet have all relocated to this beautiful part of North Idaho over the last six years. “Even though we all came from different areas of the country, our reasons were the same: the desire to live a good life in a beautiful place and be a part of a community full of great people,” attests Sam.

On any given day, you will find Sam, who is a second-degree black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, sharing his knowledge and passion for the sport that he loves with those as young as 4 years old and those in their 60s and 70s.

“Knowing we have the opportunity to have an impact on the future generations and help these kids develop skills and discipline that will serve them for a lifetime is exciting,” he affirms.

His wife Diana leads exhilarating Zumba classes; Brad teaches Taekwondo and is the assistant kids Jiu-Jitsu coach; Jarrod is the fitness director and leads the group fitness classes; and Aileen teaches Taekwondo. Tiara Schmidt is also an assistant coach for kids Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing.

“Seeing a positive change in our members as they train here is by far the most rewarding aspect of the work we do,” affirms Sam.

It is incredible—and heartwarming—to see a facility that caters to all ages and all walks of life right here in our little town of Bonners Ferry. Each time Sam steps into this space he had envisioned for years and was only realized just eight short months ago, and sees the smiles and sweat on members’ faces, it brings a sense of peace and accomplishment. “This is my dream,” he says. And with Sam at the helm, the sky is the limit on what can be accomplished through Apex Fitness & Martial Arts.

It is important to Sam and his team at Apex to help those in need when possible through providing scholarships to receive training at their facility. They currently sponsor several members with free membership and have had donors, both past and present, that help them in this endeavor. “The scholarship is for people going through hard times who want to train, and we feel it would benefit their situation,” says Sam. “We have kids from broken homes … and women from abusive relationships. That’s the type of scenario we generally step in and make it happen for them.”

This program helps with training fees and competition fees, according to Sam, who adds: “We plan to put together a scholarship-type program and hope to continue to build on this program as time goes on.” If anyone is interested in helping, he encourages you to contact Apex directly by calling 208.946.2739.

If you’re looking for a place to help you on your fitness journey, learn a new sport and be a part of something truly special, take the time to stop by Apex, where Sam and his team are ready to welcome you with open arms and hearts.

Apex Fitness & Martial Arts

6686 Main Street

Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805


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