By Emma Stessman
No expensive equipment, no high-tech gadgets, no frills. Just you, your body weight, and a whole lot of sweat.
That’s the premise behind classes at Coss Marte’s New York City-based fitness studio, ConBody, where nearly all the moves can be completed within the confines of a nine-by-six-foot prison cell—because at one point, they were.
Marte, a former drug kingpin, was arrested in 2009, and spent four years in prison. While doing time, he discovered a passion for fitness and lost 70 pounds in six months via a workout routine that combined running and body-weight exercises. “All the exercises that you’ll do in class are things that we did on the inside [of prison], but routines vary in the studio,” Marte says.
ConBody’s “prison-style workouts” have attracted a lot of attention since the studio opened, thanks to a devoted following that swears by the tough, super sweaty approach, but also because the idea of wealthy wellness seekers taking “mugshot selfies” sparks questions about exploiting the experiences of formerly incarcerated individuals and the social and economic issues that led to their incarceration.
But Marte’s not just looking to get privileged people into shape; he’s on a mission. By hiring formerly incarcerated individuals to teach the classes, he’s providing work opportunities for people who are routinely denied them, and he’s betting on the fact that an hour-long class hosted by a former inmate might help change public perceptions of the formerly incarcerated.
“Most people have a preconceived notion that former inmates are evil individuals from what they’ve seen in the media throughout the years,” Marte says. At ConBody, he says, they want to bust these stereotypes. “We encourage and push you to take your body and mind to another level,” he says. “We scream with words of encouragement and not discouragement.”
Marte shares the details of his inspiring story in its entirety in his new book, ConBody: The Revolutionary Bodyweight Prison Boot Camp, Born from an Extraordinary Story of Hope.
Below, you’ll find a quick preview of some of the no-frills habits that keep him fit and motivated day to day.
How Does Coss Marte Live a Nutritious Life?
If you had to name your healthy diet, what would you call it? Why? Intermittent fasting.
What’s your go-to breakfast? None. Just coffee—black, no sugar.
Your go-to workday dinner? Fish tacos.
What’s the one food you always have in your fridge? Peanut butter.
The snack you always have with you when traveling? A pear.
What do you eat before and after a workout? Nothing before, a protein shake after.
Your favorite food indulgence? Tacos.
Other than water, what do you sip regularly? Oat milk lattes.
How often do you exercise, and what’s your workout of choice? Calisthenics, four times a week.
How do you stay active outside the gym? Running and pull-up bars.
What’s your go-to tool for managing stress? Meditation.
What does it mean to you to “live consciously”? Living in the moment.
What’s your weirdest healthy habit? Coffee with peanut butter.
Which healthy habit do you wish you had more time for? Running.
Meditation or massage? Massage.
A hot shower or a soothing bath? Bath.
Almond butter or peanut butter? Peanut butter.
Coffee or tea? Tea.
A long run outside or a dark spin class? Run.