Catalyst uses personal training to kick addictions
Elizondo puts personal history to work for himself, others at gym
By Peter Lim | July 23, 2013 - Houston Chronical
In Mandarin the same word is used to denote crisis and opportunity, and although Frank Elizondo resides a hemisphere away from where the language is spoken, he found himself in a predicament in which the two seemingly opposing definitions converged, triggering the inception of the Catalyst Personal Training Studio, 5020 Montrose, four years ago.
"I was a mortgage banker for about 13 years," Elizondo said. "And then in 2009 when the economy kind of collapsed, it gave me the opportunity to look around and to see what I was really passionate about. I've wanted to open a gym since I was a kid."
Catalyst represented more than a career change for Elizondo. A recovering alcoholic, Elizondo had engaged in a rigorous exercise regimen to wean himself off the bottle eight years ago. Under the guidance of boxing trainer Frank Campa, he shed over 70 pounds and whipped himself into the best shape of his life. He has since become a fitness guru and has reenlisted the boxing expertise of Campa at the gym.
"That kind of sparked the evolution of this place and the incorporating of boxing into our routines," Elizondo said.
Eager to share his success in kicking addiction, Elizondo, 41, reached out to others confronting the same demons almost as soon as he became a gym owner. In partnership with Cornerstone Recovery, a non-profit organization, Catalyst conducts weekly strength and conditioning classes for adolescents recovering from substance abuse.
"For Friday Fitness we have anywhere between 40 and 70 kids and parents who come and participate," Elizondo said.
Located in the basement of Tradition Bank Plaza, formerly the Plaza Hotel, on Montrose Blvd., Catalyst is conspicuously devoid of any paint or décor on its rough-edged concrete walls and ceilings.
"They wanted to build it up for me, put in sheet rock and hard wood floors and I told them, 'please don't,'" Elizondo said.
"I wanted to keep that old-school New York boxing gym type of feel."
"We train a lot of high-end executives, politicians and a lot of doctors and surgeons from the medical center," Elizondo added.
Elizondo said most of his trainees who have opted into the boxing curriculum are women, who comprise about 70 percent of his clientele. Men who want schooling in the sweet science tend to gravitate to professional boxing gyms.
Jessica Young, an elementary school computer teacher, had always been intrigued by the pugilistic arts but never laced on a pair of gloves until she joined Catalyst a year ago. She was involved in a variety of athletic activities including tennis, salsa dancing and spin classes but never saw the kind of results that her new-found boxing regimen has delivered. Training three times a week, Young melted away 40 pounds within six months.
"I'm a physical person in general," Young, 27, said. "When I'm angry, when I'm sad, when I'm stressed, when I'm happy, I just want to physically express it so boxing is a great way to get it out there."
"And with the boxing," she added, "my shoulder strength is just remarkable. I feel lighter on my feet."
Young's year-long stint at Catalyst has been a rather Zen-like experience, she said, that has made her more grounded and self-confident.
"It's been an insane growth," Young said. "I love that it's not just a physical growth for me. I feel like mentally, I've learned so much about my body, what I can handle and how I can push myself beyond these boundaries."