Gym work is more than just a New Year’s resolution


Lots of people made New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym more often this year, but a person would need to be really dedicated to keep up with Sabrina Provoast and Elizabeth Carpenter.

They are the co-owners of Catalyst Training Center, a 1,900-square-foot gym at 6791 Old 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids. Catalyst is a personal training gym that “does everything from sports training for kids to adults who do Olympic power lifting,” said Provoast.

The gym, known for its power lifting, Olympic and Strongman training, currently has about 40 to 50 clients who come in weekly, and it has seen a lot of growth in the last year from people who didn’t wait for a New Year’s resolution to begin to get fit.

“We’ve had a lot of weight-loss stories. People start in December. They say, ‘I’m not going to do New Year’s. I’m going to start early.’… For us (New Year’s) is not as big of a thing as your regular gym because the people here are more committed all year round,” Provoast said.

She said she would recommend to anyone who wants to lose weight to make a short- and a long-term commitment.

“We have a six-week goal for people but also allow them to make a goal over the next six months. It’s important for it to be goal-specific.”

If anyone knows about setting fitness goals, it’s Provoast and Carpenter. Both are nationally recognized power lifters and do intense fitness training.

“It’s pretty cool. Someone made a comment when I brought Liz on to have two of the strongest women in West Michigan owning a gym together. I do the power-lifting side and Liz does the Strongman side,” Provoast said.

“I have a handful of people getting ready for their first lifting competition — some even on the Olympic level,” she said.

Provoast, who received a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Grand Valley State University, opened Catalyst in November 2013. She’s a power lifter who recently dead-lifted 501 pounds at an American Powerlifting Federation meet. She’s ranked fifth in the world for her weight class, she said.

She won a world championship last year for her division. Her total is an impressive 1,111 pounds.

Provoast has been training people for five years and has had clients move with her through three locations before she created Catalyst Training Center in 2013, Carpenter said.

“Sabrina is on the 10/20/Life strength team that is headed by Brian Carroll, who is a big name in the lifting world. Her access to this team as well as success in competitions has given her world-class knowledge and coaching skills,” she said.

As for Carpenter, who’s USAW-certified, her record isn’t bad either.

She has been lifting for six years and has competed in many kinds of competitions, including an Olympic weightlifting competition in which she placed second in her division and was only 15 kg from national qualification.

“(My) main sport right now is Strongman, which I went to nationals to compete in this past summer,” Carpenter said.

She received an offer to be mentored and coached by Willie Wessels, a power-lifting legend and current president of the United States Strongman Organization — an offer she turned down to be a partner at Catalyst.

Since bringing Carpenter on in the last year, the business has found a new digital presence and recently added a new website. The gym also has seen more strength athletes coming in and has added online programming “so it’s remote and not just in our location — that’s been big for us,” Provoast said.

Although the gym is known for training people to lift incredible amounts, Provoast said most of the clients aren’t athletes.

“Most of the day, I’m training just your general population — people who just want to lose weight or get stronger,” she said.

“One thing I take pride in for my business is the people who’ve been training with me have been training for a long time,” she said. “It’s important to make those life commitments rather than just a New Year’s resolution.” 

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