PSFK 2017: How Coss Marte Is Smashing Stereotypes One Prison Workout At A Time

PSFK 2017: How Coss Marte Is Smashing Stereotypes One Prison Workout At A Time
Fitness & Sport

Prison inmate turned fitness CEO Coss Marte discussed how he went from selling drugs on a street corner to running a company at Saks 5th Avenue, alongside racks of designer clothes and shoes

Emily Wasik
  • 30 june 2017

People love hearing success stories from entrepreneurs who built their fortunes from nothing—watching them bare their heart and souls on Ellen or Oprah couches about how they went from janitor to CEO. Well Coss Marte could give any of these entrepreneurs a run for their money and garner a whole chorus “ooh” and “ahhs” from audiences. In fact, received a standing ovation at our PSFK 2017 conference.

The ConBody Founder and CEO told us how he personally oversaw a million-dollar cocaine-and-marijuana empire in New York City before getting busted. Once locked up, however, he not only got his life in shape—he invented a whole new way of  physically getting in shape. As a result, he started ConBody, a prison-style bootcamp that employs incarcerated individuals as trainers.

His studio is located on the same street corner where he used to sell drugs in Lower East Side. After speaking atNew York’s FounderMade summit in February, a Saks 5th Ave director who was in the audience, approached him afterwards, telling him she was interested in helping his cause. Cutting to the chase, in May he opened a second ConBody studio at Saks 5th Avenue.

Here are the key takeaways from his speech:

Stand out from the crowd

Before you groan and assume that it’s just another bourgeois boot camp with trainers sporting cute jail-striped jumpsuits and pony-tails, know that these workouts are actually taught by former inmates themselves. Unlike these other trendy fitness classes they don’t use any equipment—just their own body weight. Also, they’re not just working out; they’re solving a real problem.

It’s never too late to turn your life around

If facing incarceration for seven years wasn’t enough, after receiving a full physical upon entering jail, doctors told the then-overweight inmate that he only had five years to live due to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. This was the reality check he needed to get in shape.  In just six months, Coss lost 70 pounds, and helped 20 other inmates lose 1000 pounds collectively.

Turn a misfortune into an opportunity to give back

After being released, trying to secure a job when he was obligated to tick the “Have you been convicted of a crime?” box, was the biggest challenge. This is why he decided to employ only formerly incarcerated individuals as trainers at ConBody, because it’s a win-win for them and society—giving them job opportunities but also showing the community that people deserve a second chance.

Don’t let the haters bring you down

Although the business has really taken off over the past three years—heck, he was even featured on Saturday Night Live on May 20— he’s come across a few haters. “There was an incident when I was about to teach a class and I told my story to everyone and then tried to give a woman a high-five, saying “Don’t be scared. I only did 6 years in prison!” She screamed, “Don’t touch me,” and picked up her things and walked away. It was so embarrassing because everybody else from the class was there watching.”

But now he’s at Saks and has tons of people supporting him and helping him along the way.

People can change. 

Today Coss speaks at conferences across the country, eliciting standing ovations from crowds.

Pass on your words of wisdom

He also speaks at schools and juvenile detention centers in the New York tri state area to deter young people from going down the road he did.

If you’re interested in ‘doing time’ at ConBody, book a class on their website or follow them on Instagram and Twitter!

People love hearing success stories from entrepreneurs who built their fortunes from nothing—watching them bare their heart and souls on Ellen or Oprah couches about how they went from janitor to CEO. Well Coss Marte could give any of these entrepreneurs a run for their money and garner a whole chorus “ooh” and “ahhs” from audiences. In fact, received a standing ovation at our PSFK 2017 conference.

+entrepreneur
+fitness
+Health
+NYC
+prison
+psfk 2017
+retail
+saks
+sport
+work

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