Portrait

6x8 Portrait is a research project that will explore the impact of mass incarceration on families in the New York City metropolitan area in a way that aims to trigger a national conversation on the topic. 

Coss Marte Part 3: Working Out, Developing The Program, and The Prison Theme

Coss Marte Part 3: Working Out, Developing The Program, and The Prison Theme

On How He Started Doing the Workout

“I started the workout mainly because of my diet. I was on Riker’s Island for about a year, and then I went upstate and doctors told me I had all these health issues…I was in Greene Correctional Facility. That’s when I really started working out, when I was in Greene. I was in reception…in reception, they basically take you blood tests and tell you your results. When they brought it back, they said that my cholesterol levels were so high that I could probably die in prison. And I was like, ‘What?’ and they were like, ‘Within five years, you could die of a heart attack if you keep living the way you’re living.’ And I’m like, ‘No way!’ 

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But I went back to my cell…they recommended exercising and eating correctly. I started working out in my cell right away and lasted for about five minutes and passed out on my bed. [The last time I had worked out] was when I was in prison the last time, between 19 and 20. I came out in decent shape. But I fell back to the lifestyle of drinking and smoking and not doing anything—no mobility at all. I was just sitting in a car and eating.

The exercises I learned from back then were the ones I implemented again and used that to lose weight. The next day, I woke up and started thinking on my bed in my cell, just thinking, ‘What should I do?’ And I got up and I started running. And I just started running laps and laps, and nobody was running in the yard. If anybody would run in the yard, they’d get made fun of, like crazy…People would call me ‘Forrest Gump!’ and scream at me and say all this bull shit.

It was a time for me to escape and concentrate on my body. Every time I would run, I would focus and be committed.”

On the Workout

“It’s like a military-based workout with prison stuff. I went through this program called ‘Shock Incarceration,’ and it’s ex-Marines and ex-army-people-turned correctional officers. And I did that program three times. It’s pretty intense.

I took some of the moves that I learned from their routines and then I used some of the moves that I learned from inmates who’d done, like, 20 to 30 years, who I was incarcerated with, who I worked out with, and just combined them. So it’s a mix of cardio, calisthenics, and aerobics.”

On Why ConBody Has a Prison Theme

“When I first came home, I named the company Coss Athletics, and we had a tagline. It was ‘prison-style boot camp.’ It was like a small little tagline that nobody really could see. You would just see Coss Athletics. And there were just some times when I would start classes and start the work out and nobody would know what it really was, so I would explain to them that this is a prison-style boot camp. It was all derived from me losing weight, almost 70 pounds in six months.

And I would explain my story, and there were a few people that would walk out and not even touch me and discriminate right away. I’ve had it happen a good handful of times. And then I was like, you know what? Fuck it. I’m gonna own the brand.

I decided this was what I was going to do. And I also had a job. I did an internship at Goodwill. And there were people who were formerly incarcerated who would come there asking for help and stuff like that. And nobody knew I was formerly incarcerated, because I just went in there as an intern. Nobody really knew my background, so I just kept quiet about it. But I would to see other employees talk shit about formerly incarcerated people and all these people who would never amount to something and, you know, probably end up going back to jail...And I got frustrated and I told them: ‘Look, I’ve been incarcerated.’ You know, it took a while and it took a little bit of courage. But I just, like, owned it.

And then I was like, I'm going to build this whole thing to look like a prison and call it ConBody. And now you know what you’re going to get into. Yeah. And if you don’t like it, then you’re probably not going to come.”

Takia “Judah” Parham Part 3: Family, Reconnecting and Moving Past Shame

Takia “Judah” Parham Part 3: Family, Reconnecting and Moving Past Shame

Coss Marte Part 2: Moving In and Out of the System

Coss Marte Part 2: Moving In and Out of the System