Entrepreneurship Podcast post

The Value of a Prison Workout with Coss Marte

George Grombacher August 5, 2022

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The Value of a Prison Workout with Coss Marte

LifeBlood: We talked about the value of a prison workout, the life-changing event of being incarcerated and committing to fitness, helping remove the stigma of being an ex-con, helping others, and what the future holds, with Coss Marte, Founder and CEO of CONBODY and CONBUD. 

Listen to learn why you’ve gotta ask for what you want!

You can learn more about Coss at ConBody.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

coss 2

Coss Marte

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on Well, this is Georgie and the time is right welcome today’s guests during a powerful cost parte cost. So you ready to do this? Yes. Thank you excited to have you on costs the founder and CEO of con body and con bud he was incarcerated for over seven years, where he reevaluated his life now he’s working to help others in D stigmatize those who have been impacted by the war on drugs. Cause tell us a little about your personal life smart about your work and why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:39
Yeah, I mean, I, I was born and raised in the Lower East Side of New York City, neighborhood in the 80s and 90s. That was the very, very heavily drug infested back then, it was a neighborhood that people didn’t really want to walk through, you know, and so it was a dangerous place at that moment. It was a pretty tight community. And I grew up seeing drugs at a very early age and got involved in it. Super young, at 11, I started smoking weed and the routine I started dealing and looking at the people that were staring on the corner, who had the big Chase cards, who as like, people that made it, you know, success, successful people, you know, and I didn’t see too much, or I didn’t see anyone, you know, growing up that made it through school or education, or whatever way means it was you know, either you sold drugs or, you know, maybe became an athlete, I didn’t really know athletes, you know, that came out of my neighborhood. So drugs was like, the thing, you know, and so I got involved in that and I wanted to be rich and I started dealing and 19, I was making over $2 million a year, I created one of the largest drug delivery services in New York City. And that’s when he three everything ended, I was sentenced to seven years in prison. Doctors in prison told me my cholesterol levels were through the roof. And finally start working out or eating correctly better, I die of a heart attack. So I started exercising and non stop and I managed to lose over 70 pounds in six months. I took that same workout method and started implementing it with other inmates in there. And I helped over 20 inmates has over 1000 pounds combined and I took this that idea and I was like okay, I can start a business behind this so this is a combat he was born I can’t I was released I started it you know, doing it in local parks renting out valet studios and just hustling and grinding for the last nine years with that and then and then con bug was all derived from you know, the injustices I saw in a marijuana space just seeing people that have been affected I was arrested at their team and went down a whole spiral being stuck in the probation parole jail prison system for 17 years. So it was it took a while for me to escape that world but you know to come out and then see people that have never even touched a plant or even been around it you know become rich off of it and then us that have been affected by it. We couldn’t get in the in the gang and it was unfair on unfairness system but New York State decided to regulate that and make that more socially equitable space by hiring by selecting the first license has to be going out to individuals like myself who will have a profitable business and also had been convicted for marijuana charges so I’m jumping on that bandwagon now and and I launched combo where we’re going to be hiring people that have been affected by the war on drugs to sell marijuana not not drugs, but just marijuana.

george grombacher 4:23
Got it? Well, I appreciate you sharing your story. So how long have How long have you been out of prison?

Unknown Speaker 4:31
I’ve been home nine years now and then home nine years

george grombacher 4:36
so when when you’re when you’re when you’re in prison and to people just notice that this guy in his six by nine cell or however big it is, is just moving around? He’s acting like a I don’t want to put words in your mouth. How did it how did work get around?

Unknown Speaker 4:55
Yeah, so I was working out in the in the prison yard I was also working out in My prison cell. So I would I would run like pretty much a half a marathon every day. In the beginning, you know, people would make fun of me, they would call me fat Forrest Gump. And I was like, I couldn’t run that was I was running from one post that there was like these light poles in the prison yard. And so I was running one pole. And then I was walking to the next pole. And then running to the island, people were screaming and make fun of me. And I’m trying to get on a pull up bar in the prison yard. And, you know, like, they’re calling me honey, bun jokes and all that stuff. And so I, I just kept moving in the prison yard, I ran around with my middle finger, you know, I just like, didn’t pay attention to other people. And then I went back to my cell, and I started doing calisthenics exercises, just using my body weight. So I kept doing it. And then I lost all my way. And I remember one inmate coming up to me, and he was a big guy. He was like, guy, he noticed me notice my weight loss. And he was like, I want to start running with you. And, and then I started training him. And then he brought some of his other friends. And we started training. And then I got one of my other friends and then became, like, a camaraderie builder, where we just went out to the yard working out with each other,

george grombacher 6:15
I think, I think that’s incredible. And so obviously, kudos to you for persevering? Was it? I don’t want to die. Because the doctor told me if I don’t start losing weight, then I’m going to die. And, or was it I need something to do a little bit of everything?

Unknown Speaker 6:34
Yeah, a little bit of everything. I mean, in the beginning, definitely, like the doctors told me, like, you know, if I didn’t start exercising, that I could probably die of a heart attack within five years, my cholesterol levels, like, just really bad, have blood pressure issues. So what I did was, you know, that that woke me up to start moving in myself. And, and I remember after three months, I lost 40 pounds, and I went back to the medical unit to get re examined, and they said, my blood levels and everything was, you know, normal. And so in three months, I got back to normal. And then that just became, like, an addiction, I guess, in the sense where I routine that I just kept going, and I felt bad. And then I didn’t exercise, you know, I felt like damn, falling off, you know, when I took a day off, and so I had to get back on it. So and plus I had the time to do it. You know, I mean, in prison, when I was there, it was just like working out reading books. And that was it. So I utilize my time, you know, positively and took advantage of it. Yeah,

george grombacher 7:49
I appreciate that. So how, how was the process of going home and then talked about you started just running these in parks, ballet studios, wherever you could get space? How was it actually setting up the business? Was that hard as somebody who with with with a criminal record, how was that process?

Unknown Speaker 8:12
It was extremely hard. I mean, I had no funding, I came out with a dream I was you know, I wanted I’d lost everything that had the only thing I had was like, a few 100 pairs a Jordan sneakers from back in the day and, and I took those and sold all of them and then use that as startup capital. So I, I started in the park, you know, rain, sleet, snow, I didn’t care. I was out there twice a day, every day, just going up to people in the streets and telling them, you know, I’m doing this workout out here on the subway stations, you know, handing out flyers, just getting the word out there as much as I can, and making it happen. But it was at least two years before I even went inside, you know. And then I started operating like a ballet studio. And then I got a sublease from a daycare center. And I remember like the daycare center, they were like, also what do you do? And I was like, Yeah, I’m teaching Pilates class. Because, you know, I when I used to tell people prisons, that boot camp, you know, there used to be like, what, you know, what is that and then I’ll tell them my story and then be like, now you can’t have that here. How to manipulate, you know, the principal, but then she found out it was a prison style boot camp. So they tried to kick us out, you know, and so then I moved into actual space, looking for actual spaces, even when I had the funds to do it with was extremely difficult just because nobody wanted to rent to me. I had that stamp on my record. Every application I had to fill out with art disclose my pass. And so I was being judged. And and I got lucky by finding a ad on Craigslist for baseman, on this exact same corner were sold drugs, that exact same corner where I got locked up at and went back to full circle and opened up our first facility there.

george grombacher 10:25
That’s wild. That’s the universe connecting dots. It’s crazy. So, you start enrolling people, you’re literally you’re in the park, you’re chasing people down, and you’re stopping people who are walking by, and you successfully do that, obviously, and just hustle like crazy for two years. And then you finally everything comes full circle, and you get the studio space or this basement space. Now, how is how has it been? It’s obviously grown. But just tell us about from where that is to where we are today.

Unknown Speaker 11:00
I mean, back then I was, you know, I thought I made it when I was training 10 People in the park. You know, today we’ve trained over 70,000 people, you know, and all around the world, even inside the prison systems and correctional facilities, where we actually training inmates today, inside Rikers Island, we’re expanding in Wisconsin, Nebraska, you know, moving to New Mexico as well. So we’re, you know, that’s, that’s the goal is to hire as many people coming out of the prison system as possible. That’s been our mission, since I launched it, you know, because I didn’t want people to feel the pain that I felt when I came home, I was released with $40 in a bus ticket, you know, and if I didn’t have my mom’s couch, I probably would have been homeless, you know, and it’s a very difficult process to transition if you don’t have any resources or, you know, assistance from any family members. And so, I want individuals that had been in my situation to have the easiest transition, because I felt the pain. And there’s been times where we had when I was starting the company, and I got that basement location, we had like four air mattresses, and I had to deflate them before class at 6am. So we can start 630 class, you know, on time, and people are asleep. Like they were in prison cots. But they were free. And I had peanut butter and jelly, you know, for them to eat on at lunchtime. You know, it was just, it was a real, it was real. I’ve hired over 50 people coming out of the prison system and, and today, we have a zero set of his own right, you know, and no one has gone back on it. I think that that is all due to the tight community that we built. And, you know, we got each other’s back, you know, and we tell I tell everyone that that are hired, like, if you need assistance in any way possible, like just ask, you know, we’ll figure it out.

george grombacher 13:14
It strikes me as, as really a no brainer. If I were if I were running a prison, I would want you to come in and help people to be healthy, but that also give them hope that oh my gosh, there is a path. There’s probably many, but if you don’t know, then you don’t know. How is that being received? It sounds like you’re you’re certainly in quite a few. I was received.

Unknown Speaker 13:40
I mean, the inmates are the one that asked me for it, you know, because they see that, you know, a lot of people in prison workout, you know, so they see that they have this talent that they could give back to the society in a certain way and they want to get back they want to get into this business. So we’ve gotten the word out there by because in prison you don’t have you know, some prisons have TVs in the cells and stuff like that. But you know, some places you don’t have anything you have you have a TV in the room, as you say. So one channel, so you don’t really see anything from the out side world except for magazine. And so we were featured on men’s health Men’s Fitness, Inc, magazine, Forbes. And so these are this is what you read in prison. And so after being featured on those we’ve gotten tons of jail mail. I call it fan jail now because a lot of people asking, you know, for jobs, you know, and I haven’t grown enough yet where we provide as many jobs as I can, but that’s, you know, that’s a goal that I want to reach one day is to give back in some sort of way, you know, especially in fitness. Right now marijuana

george grombacher 14:58
right now What do people like most or why? Why do regular folks? Why would I walk into your comp body studio?

Unknown Speaker 15:08
It’s different. It’s, it’s a community of, you know, people that that make you feel like family. And I think when people come here, they might come here for the novelty. And they see that it’s not a regular place you’re not going into like a fancy gym with a dowel in locker where you’re going to put in your stuff and, you know, feel like that way. We have no locks in our lockers. You come in here, you put your stuff we tell people trust you. Yeah, stuff with EX convicts. You know, I know the studio to look like a prison. So you went through a gate, you know, before class starts and it’s all bodyweight. So we know we don’t use any equipment. And trust me, we you will experience one of the hardest workouts and get a sweat and get results. You know, we keep calm, and we’ll keep committed.

george grombacher 16:03
I love it. And so in your mind’s eye, what is five years look like from now? What is life gonna look like?

Unknown Speaker 16:13
Yeah, I mean, right now, what I’m looking at is franchising. I’m working on franchising multiple locations across the country. At the current moment, I would like to do at least 100 in the next five years, launch con, but you know, now and have that expand, and give back to individuals, you know, getting into the game.

george grombacher 16:40
I think that’s exciting. I was I had that in the back of my mind about about franchising, it seems, seems to make sense. But obviously, there’s a million different details and helping people to raise the money and or how, however you structure it, but you’re a smart guy, so I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

Unknown Speaker 16:57
I’m figuring it out. I have to figure it out out of desperation. So I’m making it happen.

george grombacher 17:05
Yeah, exactly. Love it. Because the people are ready for that difference making tip, what do you have for them?

Unknown Speaker 17:12
For me, you know, I tell people, if you don’t ask you don’t eat, you know, and, and that’s something that my mom always said, like, you need to ask to get something, you know, whether it’s a no or yes, but you’ll get something, you know what I mean? And, and that’s something that I always kept them back in my mind as I started a company that’s just like, ABC always be closing, you know, and just always be asking always be, you know, trying to get something. And a lot of people when they start businesses or launch something new, they think they have the greatest idea in our world. But like, I wanted his MBA class and brown and some kid build this genius software system, and now it’s like, so have you asked anybody, you know, they need this? And it’s like, not Yeah, you know, because I’m still working. I’m like, yo, you’ve got to ask somebody if they want that shit, because if they don’t have no one wants, this is not a viable, you know, product and market then. Then you’re just wasting your time right now, buddy. And so yeah, I mean, always asked, you know, and you shall receive that sponsor?

george grombacher 18:26
Well, I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets Come on. That’s a good medicine for everybody. But particularly a young, very, very excited, idealistic person. Is anybody really going to want to buy this? Oh, really thought about that? Because thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they get involved with con body and con button?

Unknown Speaker 18:51
Yeah, you can message me at con body.com. My emails are cost Martin, calm body.com and costs at con but.com If you want to get involved in the marijuana space. And our Instagram is c o n Bo dy calm body and con bud and why is our Instagram for calm thought, trying to try to get that calm but solidified on Instagram that, you know somebody had that account and sitting on it. Maybe I’ll buy it one day. But, ya know, I appreciate the opportunity here, George. Thank you for letting me share my

george grombacher 19:30
story. For sure. If you enjoyed as much as I did show cost your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, go to Khan body.com. And check out all the great resources and get involved find them on Instagram. I’ll list everything in the notes of the show. Thanks again. Thank you. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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