Martial arts studio comes to Broad Brook
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
East Windsor - posted Thu., Jan. 10, 2013
The Simon building on Main Street in Broad Brook has seen its fair share of businesses come and go, from a barbershop to law offices, but nothing ever quite stuck, and in recent times the building has sat vacant and deteriorating. One East Windsor native and resident purchased the building four years ago and put his blood, sweat and tears into the building to restore it and turn it into a family business, The Pride Martial Arts Studio.
“As a 5-year-old I remember walking by here going to the milk market because I lived around the corner,” said owner Khamp Phimvongsa. “It’s a little bit more than just a building. As a kid I always wanted this building. I love this town; I want to see it grow. I would love to see it how it used to be when I was growing up, when I could bike and walk without a care in the world. I want to make it how it used to be and a little better.”
Phimvongsa’s parents and eight siblings were refugees from Laos and were sponsored to move to America by the St. Catherine of Siena Church in Broad Brook. His family arrived on Nov. 19, 1979, and within 11 days his father earned a job as an operation technician at St. Francis Hospital. Phimvongsa said after long days at work, his father would come home and eat dinner with the family before teaching them Tae-Kwon-Do in the evening. It is the hard work, discipline, and respect he learned from his father and his martial arts training that drove him to start the family martial arts studio. He says these traits learned from his father have rubbed off on his siblings who have gone on to be successful in their own lives earning Ph.D.s, owning businesses and working on Wall Street.
“The heart of this is to commemorate my late dad,” Phimvongsa said. “He set high margins for all of us, and we all got to where we are today not because we were lucky, not because we were given handouts, it’s because it started with my dad as a mentor. Every day that goes by there is not a day that I do not think about him. There are times that get really tough and I think about it, the whole reason why I started this.”
Phimvongsa purchased the building in 2008 during the onset of the market crash and the economic recession. He worked as a builder and designer for 50 hours a week and thought when he bought the building he would be able to put up some sheet rock, lay down some flooring, and add a fresh coat of paint to renovate, but he soon realized that he would have to tear just about all of it down. The building was almost structurally condemned, with walls bowing and all of the electrical and plumbing needing to be re-done. Over the course of four years, he spent 30 hours a week after work on the building, working more than 10,000 hours to renovate the building as new.
On the beautifully renovated main floor lies the dojo and fitness room, as well as an office and spare room in which children can do homework or wait until their marital arts session begins. He is currently renovating the top floor, which will act as the main dojo and hold a fencing program. Over the course of the year, the building will implement a variety of programs including Zumba, Pilates, yoga, fitness training, Crossfit, music, dance and fine arts.
For more information about the Pride Martial Arts Studio visit the building at 98 Main St. in Broad Brook or call 860-849-0766.