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STURGIS | Mieke Bruch knew what her next business venture would be when she became weary of driving her daughter from Sturgis to Spearfish for gymnastics practice.

After more than a year of planning and construction, Bruch opened the Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy in July, in a new 11,000 square-foot building at 3240 Vanocker Canyon Road.

Bruch’s journey indeed began in Spearfish, where she and a former business partner built Quarq Technology from a two-person firm to a business employing more than 30 within five years.

They sold Quarq to a Chicago company in 2011. Bruch stayed on until 2014 to help with the transition, then left the company on good terms and moved back to her hometown of Sturgis, where she had graduated from Brown High School in 1993.

Her daughter, in the meantime, continued to participate in gymnastics in Spearfish. The frequent drive time became tiresome, Bruch said.

“Since we sold that company back in 2011, I thought, gosh I’d like another business opportunity,” Bruch said. “I’m tired of driving and I’d like another opportunity to help the community and offer something.”

Bruch continued to study the gymnastics business, this time with an eye toward opening her own business.

“I spent a lot of time up in Spearfish, just observing, being a parent and looking at it from the customer service side of this," she said.

She bought property from Dave and Tiffany Smith, owners of neighboring Dogwood Lodge Pet Resort in south Sturgis. Completion of construction took longer than she expected, however.

“I spent about a year building it, because the winter, as we all know, was terrible,” she said.

Bruch finally opened the doors in July and celebrated a grand opening in August.

As owner and manager, she handles the finances and marketing, with a staff of full-time and part-time coaches.

One of her full-time coaches is Colt Scott, a 25-year-old from Virginia, who has participated in the NBC Television series "American Ninja Warrior."

Scott coaches all age groups in the Ninja program, which combines strength and agility with skills to master an obstacle course,

According to a website biography, Scott competed as a rookie on the Netflix series "Ultimate Beastmaster" and has served as a course tester for the past three years on "American Ninja Warrior."

“I love the area. The people are awesome and I get to do what I love and I have a nice place to train,” Scott said.

Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy offers late afternoon and evening training sessions, ranging from parent-tot programs for preschoolers to training competitive high-school level club girls teams.

The Academy fielded a 10-member competitive team at a state meet last year. There are about 27 members on the team for this year.

"We were actually practicing in the pole barn at my house last year, while I was building this,” Bruch aid.

Bruch eventually plans to add birthday parties and daytime sessions for home-school students. For now, the sessions run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

“I’m just excited to have something for Sturgis. I’ve only been open for two months but it’s been really well received,” Bruch said.

See the Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy Facebook page, or call 605-641-2665 for more information.

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