Journal Entry 

 February 10, 2024: Second Chances 

Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Second Chances: Stories of Redemption and Entrepreneurship

The journey from incarceration to innovation is a path less traveled, yet it is one that brims with stories of resilience, redemption, and entrepreneurship. In our course, Preparing for Success after Prison, we profile who build inspiring stories of success after prison. And in my work as an advocate, I am always looking for other people who can show how preparations in prison lead to opportunities and success upon release.

Someday, I hope to profile you and others who work through our courses. Today, I’ll profile Coss, a young man I interviewed for our program several years ago.

These narratives are not just tales of personal triumph but are beacons of hope for those who seek a second chance at life. Coss served a lengthy sentence, but transformed his life’s lowest point into a launchpad for a groundbreaking venture.

The Unlikely Entrepreneur

Coss Marte’s entrepreneurial spirit was kindled in the most unlikely of places—behind bars. At the age of 23, Marte was running one of the largest drug delivery services in New York City. His arrest and subsequent seven-year sentence could have been the end of his story. Instead, it became the beginning of something extraordinary.

The Conception of ConBody

In prison, faced with a dire health prognosis, Marte began exercising in his cell using his own body weight for resistance. His dedication led to a remarkable transformation—he lost over 70 pounds in six months. Recognizing the potential of his regimen, he shared it with fellow inmates, helping over 20 individuals lose a combined total of over 1,000 pounds.

From Cell to CEO

Upon his release, Marte faced the harsh reality many formerly incarcerated individuals encounter: the challenge of finding employment. Undeterred, he channeled his entrepreneurial drive and fitness knowledge into creating ConBody—a prison-style boot camp that not only helps people get fit but also provides employment opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

ConBody: A Symbol of Change

ConBody is more than a fitness program; it’s a statement against societal stigma and a testament to the power of second chances. It stands as the first fitness method created in prison, founded by an inmate, and managed and run by former inmates. With a recidivism rate of 0%, ConBody’s impact extends beyond individual fitness—it’s a catalyst for systemic change.

Your Task: Envision Your Second Chance

Inspired by Coss Marte’s story, consider your own life. What are the confines—physical, mental, or circumstantial—that you face? How can you turn these constraints into opportunities for growth and innovation?

1. Identify an area in your life where you feel confined or limited.

2. Brainstorm ways to transform this limitation into an opportunity for personal development or entrepreneurship.

3. Outline a basic plan for a project or business that embodies this transformation.

Share your vision with us at [email protected]. We are eager to hear your stories of resilience and to support you in your journey of redemption and entrepreneurship.

Join the Movement

Coss Marte’s story is a powerful reminder that our past does not define our future. It is a call to all of us to look beyond the confines of our current circumstances and to see the potential for greatness within. By sharing your plans and stories, you contribute to a growing movement that celebrates second chances and the entrepreneurial spirit that can flourish within them.

Together, we can redefine what it means to be ‘formerly incarcerated’ and showcase the boundless potential for redemption and entrepreneurship that lies within each of us.

Respectfully,

Michael Santos,

Founder of Prison Professors Talent