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Daily Inspiration: Meet Michelle and Niko Griggs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle and Niko Griggs.

Hi Michelle and Niko, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
Niko and I (Michelle) grew up a block away from each other in American Fork, Utah. Our families had a great relationship and became friends before we did. Niko’s Dad sold cars, and my parents bought several for my big family. My brother was friends with Niko’s sister, and I was best friends with Niko’s younger brother too.

But one day, after years of kind of knowing each other, we connected at the local gym and started dating in 2015. Our families meshed fast, and I moved in shortly after. We got married in 2017 in the backyard of our first house together.

Both of us have a passion for health and community. We have always had the vision of bringing people together by providing a place of sanction for like-minded people. In 2020 while all the gyms were locked down, we endeavored to take the gym with us outside. We started collecting gym equipment and took it to places like the mountains, the desert, lakeside, and more.

We found a unique way of combining passions and had a lot of fun along the way.

We were intrigued by the Strongman sport and dove in right after Covid restrictions lifted in 2021. We joined our first strongman gym and were instantly inspired by the grit, strength, and generosity of the athletes. We were welcomed into the community with open arms.

Big timers like Kevin Faires, the world’s strongest man competitor, Julia Tomescheski, pro strongwoman, & powerlifter, Jordan Larson, 1000lb deadlifter, and many others, took us under their wing and even gave us equipment to perform our best. The strong community is something, unlike anything we’ve experienced in our years of lifting weights recreationally. We loved it so much about it that we wanted to create a place of our own to grow the strong community and build a gym family.

We started really focusing in September of 2021, and by December we were ready to find our home base.
Excited for the future, and everything falling into place. We even found out we’d be expecting our first baby!

We’ve heard before when you get ready to start a business, get ready for everything to go wrong. Tragically, we never saw coming what would happen over the course of those early months. The loss was not unknown to us already, but the most devastating was Niko’s dad suddenly and mysteriously passed away at a young 46 years old in January.

He was a huge supporter of all of our crazy dreams, and never missed a competition to watch Niko or me perform. He was always incredibly proud and never missed a chance to show it. We received our business license the same day he died. During all of this, we would soon find that our baby wouldn’t be joining us earthside either, but maybe that means they were somewhere up there with Dan.

A big part of why we do what we do and HOW we do it is a credit to Dan. For us, Valhalla was and is a place to pour our hearts and souls into and help us heal. It was something positive and productive, and something we know Dan would think was “badass”.

We know in our hearts that he is so proud of us. His car lot banner lives on our wall as a reminder of the importance of never taking a day for granted! After a few more semi-trauma life changes and adjustments, (lol) we slowly opened our doors to the public in March, and celebrated our grand opening at the beginning of June! We have built our dream of growing the community and creating a family of strong athletes.

Valhalla is a place for anyone to come and feel like it is their own; to better themselves, to find sanity, to feel included and part of something. When you walk into Valhalla, you are an athlete, whether you are just starting your journey or have been doing it for years; whether you have disabilities or hardships, no matter what. If you have a body, you are an athlete, and you are welcome here.

Valhalla is 24/7 access with member key cards, it has a safe place to bring your children, and an escape from the real world for a few hours. For us and others, Valhalla has been a beacon of light in hard times for many already.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I work in retail. I actually lost/left my job of 7 years in the midst of everything going on at the beginning of the year after a traumatic event in store.

I took almost a month between jobs. (Very stressful, considering we just signed our lease for the gym) I went to a new company, and it just wasn’t the right fit. Now I work somewhere else, and I’ve been loving it. Sometimes those crappy situations lead to sunnier days.

Niko is an electrician and his company split up shortly after I left my job too. He went to another company for a while and is now back with one of the original owners and our good friend, Mike. (Fun fact, Mike married us at our wedding, and loaned us interest-free to start Valhalla).

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Some people never take the jump. Neither of us wants to be 70 years old and wish we would’ve done something different, so we jumped. Why not take the big risks while we’re young? Worst case, we have the rest of our lives to make it right.

Starting a business is scary! It’s all a balancing act, but with no safety net. Either you maintain your perfect balance, or you slip and learn to fly on the way down.

We have invested so much money, but after all, is said and done, for us, Valhalla is a passion project. If one day it makes money and we’re able to be paid back fully on our investment or even quit our full-time jobs and just build the gym up, that will be a glorious day!

Until then, we will keep serving the community and building. Self-sufficiency and regular gym expenses paid for by memberships is the goal for now.

Pricing:

  • $60 a month No Contract No cancellation fee
  • $50 for military, police, and first responders
  • $20 add on a household partner

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Cydney Hatch and David Fitch

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