Meet The Owners
Hey there! Our names are Donnie and Stacey and these are our dogs Alli and Ada. We are the owners of Wolf Valley Performance! We opened Wolf Valley in December of 2018 (yep, right before Christmas in the dead of winter – great plan guys!!), but this place was a dream of ours for a lot of years before that happened.
Here is our story...
Stacey here! I grew up in Carson City and moved to Oklahoma in 2011. I started doing CrossFit in 2012 and began coaching just six short months after that! I started out coaching the Foundations Classes for beginners (which is still one of my favorite things to do!) and eventually I started coaching regular CrossFit classes, then added on specialty classes (like Olympic Lifting and Gymnastics) and personal training clients as well. I fell in love with CrossFit immediately because I saw how much fun people could have while improving their health and their quality of life! I spent the next three years growing my coaching schedule and taking on as many personal training clients as I could until I eventually was able to quit my “day job” and work at the gym full time in 2015! During that time, I started to dream about opening my own gym back home in Reno someday…
Donnie grew up in Allegan, Michigan and moved to Oklahoma when he was stationed at Tinker AFB for the Navy. (Fun Fact: While he was in the Navy, Donnie worked on airplanes which is super cool!) Donnie began CrossFit in 2014 and started coaching the following year. He enjoyed CrossFit as both a competitive outlet where he could train for the sport of CrossFit and as a fun way to help others through coaching! In 2015 he got out of the Navy and started coaching more classes and clients while also going back to school!
In 2015, the two of us teamed up for a local CrossFit competition. We started training together regularly and quickly realized that we make a really great team - we started dating and we've been together ever since! Shortly after that we got puppies at the same time and started making plans to open a gym TOGETHER…. “someday”.
Over the next three years we dreamed and planned and talked about “our gym” a LOT. We took as many new certifications as we could, coached as many classes as possible and learned as much as we could from the incredible owners of the gym we coached at (if you live in Oklahoma, check out Crossfit Complete – they’re amazing people!). We dreamed of creating a community with the same welcoming and challenging culture held by CrossFit Complete. In the meantime, we saved every dollar we could and started looking at commercial buildings in Reno online in all of our spare time – as well as drawing possible logos, kicking around names and talking about how much fun it would be to run our own place.
In August of 2018, “someday” finally came around! We quit our jobs, sold off most of our stuff and packed the rest into our two little cars (along with Ali and Ada!) and drove ourselves to our new lives in Nevada! We moved in with my (Stacey!) family while we continued our hunt for a building to open our gym. Fun fact – we applied to over 8 buildings and got denied! It was a very challenging time and we started to wonder if anyone would be willing to take a chance on us. We are entirely self-funded – we saved as much as we could and didn’t borrow money from investors, friends or family. On paper we didn’t look like much to potential landlords. We couldn’t provide one year of rent like some owners wanted and we didn’t have anyone who would co-sign a lease for us. During this time, the sale of the house that Donnie owned in Oklahoma fell through on closing day – so we found ourselves on the hook for that mortgage again as we lived on Donnie’s small school stipend from the military and our savings that we planned to put into our new business dream. After a few months of living here with no luck finding a building and a mortgage to pay on a house we weren’t living in, we started to get pretty nervous. Was this a giant mistake?!
As we kept looking at commercial buildings (unsuccessfully), I started working at Starbucks. This income helped us keep our savings intact while we paid the mortgage for the house in Oklahoma. I also always thought working at Starbucks looked fun – I worked at Jamba Juice in high school and college but never did the coffee thing!! It was a lot of early mornings and a challenge to juggle once we finally opened the gym, but I truly enjoyed my time at the ‘bux!
Finally, in October 2018, Donnie stumbled upon a building in South Reno that we could afford. The current tenant sold hot tubs (Hey Dan!!) and wanted to move to another location with better visibility. To get out of his lease, he needed tenants willing to move in FAST…. Enter us! The owners of the building didn’t ask for a year’s rent and they didn’t ask us to provide a co-signer. They accepted our application with no questions asked. I honestly didn’t even believe it at first. We had so many other applications fall through that I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Surely this was too good to be true. But… it wasn’t.
That building was 770 Smithridge Drive #700 and that is where I’m sitting as I write this post! This is the home of Wolf Valley Performance! We got the keys on November 17, 2018 and started working tirelessly to get ready to open. That Thanksgiving weekend was all about Wolf Valley. My entire family helped us sweep floors and clean walls. My older brother helped us the most and arguably did more work than either of us – Donnie and I are really good at gym things, but we’re not so good at construction things. Thank you Dave!! We cleaned toilets and painted walls and scraped floors and laid floors and built desks and applied for permits and licenses and hounded the City of Reno to accept our Use Permit excessively (they were so helpful and answered our 200 questions with so much kindness). The night before our building inspection we were here until 4:00am. We slept at my brother’s house because we were still living in Carson City and we returned the next morning at 7:30am. We were so nervous that there would be something wrong, but we passed our inspection without any problems at all. We laid out 125 horse stall mats. We cut the edge pieces with a box cutter… well, Donnie did that. I was really bad at that. I worked on fixing the toilets…. We eventually called a plumber…
After 4 weeks of work, we were finally ready to open for classes! We opened on December 17, 2018. We had 6 members our first month. Many mornings we would arrive for the 6am class only for no one to show up – so we’d take a nap! Since then, our community has grown so much and for that we are so thankful. We’ve met so many incredible people and learned so much on this small business adventure. It is an honor and our dream to run this gym and to provide a place of encouragement and empowerment for the people of Reno!
We’d love for you to come meet our incredible coaches and members and see if Wolf Valley is a good fit for your health and fitness needs!! Hit the button below to book a time to come hang out and meet us - and try a workout if you want to!
We can’t wait to meet you!
- Stacey, Donnie, Alli & Ada