Peter Stancato had never been rock climbing. But in 2011, while attending a wedding with his future wife, the groom invited him on a climbing expedition. He hesitantly tagged along.
By the end of the day, Stancato was hooked on rock climbing. So much so, he began making plans to open a climbing gym in Lakewood. “I wrote a business plan a week later,” he says. “I saved up $30,000 in seven years.”
Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym Lakewood facilityIn March 2018, Stancato opened Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym in the basement of the Lakewood Baptist Church, 14321 Detroit Ave., at the corner of Lincoln Avenue. “It was really motivated by passion,” he says. He worked as a social worker and in sales to save the money. “I had some really tough jobs while I was waiting to do this.”
But Stancato’s patience and work paid off. Nearly two years after opening Nosotros, Stancato is preparing to open a second Nosotros location downtown, on the first floor of University Lofts, 2020 Euclid Ave. The targeted grand opening date is Sunday, Feb. 16.
Stancato was nervous at first about opening in Lakewood. “I was really afraid because we put our life savings into this gym,” he says. “And a basement of a church—I didn’t know what people would think about that. But after a couple of minutes, you forget you’re in a church.”
And he is excited about the 4,000-square-foot downtown gym, which is designed by Jacob Miley of Perrysburg-based Midwest Church Design + Construction.
“It’s really close to the heart of the city, across from Cleveland State University, next door to Amazon, on the ground level of two apartment complexes, and the rent is pretty affordable,” he says. “You have new clientele coming in every year [from CSU], and I can see a potential CSU partnership."
One of Stancato’s missions since opening is to respect his clients and make them feel good about themselves. “We’re huge in just treating people well and valuing people,” he says. “We work with people. If they need help, we help.”
Customers' biggest worry is how they look when they climb, he says. He reassures them and talks them through their courses. Stancato tells clients that he had only climbed three times before opening the gym. He assures first timers they can accomplish their climbs.
“Knowing that so many people out there are scared to climb because they don’t know how they’ll look, I show them how it’s done,” he says. It only takes about 30 seconds to climb a route, but most people have to attempt it several times before succeeding. “It makes it more addicting because it’s instant gratification.”
And the Lakewood location has a climbing “cave,” tucked in the back of the gym, where people can even climb on the ceiling. “Our biggest hurdle is people who are afraid [to climb],” he says. “The cave is tucked back there so they don’t have to worry about how they’ll look.”
Rendering of the new 4,000-square-foot Nosotros downtown facility The 3,500-square-foot Lakewood gym offers about 150 different climbing routes on five walls, ranging from a zero-degree slab to a 45-degree overhang. All are designed to accommodate climbers from beginning to advanced levels (the beginning courses are marked with white tape, the advanced courses with blue tape). The downtown location will also have five walls with zero- to 45-degree overhangs.
Additionally, the gyms have weight rooms and training walls. Stancato also may offer yoga classes at the new location.
Memberships cost $50 per month, $45 per month for students. Stancato also offers two-week trials, yearly, and lifetime memberships. He says the Lakewood location has about 150 members. He is offering discounted memberships to those who join before Jan. 15.
In keeping with his philosophy of treating people well, Stancato makes a goal each year to give back to his members in a significant way. In 2018, he gave more than 100 date nights to couples in the community, and in 2019, he gave away a car. He hasn’t decided on 2020’s giveaway, but he’s open to suggestions.