Coss Marte, 31, isn’t your typical ex-convict. The former drug kingpin, after spending time behind bars, has turned his health and life around and is now helping other formerly incarcerated people get their new lives in order through exercise.
Coss grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. From an early age he was surrounded by bad influences and before he knew it he was involved in the drug trade.
At age 19, Coss was making more than $2 million a year.
“I was driving expensive cars, wearing expensive suits, and busy passing my business cards,” Coss said during a TED-X talk he gave in the Hudson, New York. “I even had seven cell phones.”
He ran a team of dozens of well dressed staff who served upper class clients. When he was caught, after being given up by a subordinate, he was sent to prison in 2009. In prison he was told by the prison doctors that he was extremely overweight, had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The doctors gave him a grim reality check.
“They said that if I didn’t get healthy,” Coss said on a Skype call. “I would probably die in jail. I knew I couldn’t die in prison.”
On his walk back to the cell after being told this, he decided to turn his life around.
“I went back to my cell and immediately started working out,” he said. “After 10 minutes I nearly passed out.”
Gradually, Coss worked his body into shape and eventually trained 20 inmates with a collective 1,000 lbs to lose.
When he was released, four years later and early for good behavior, Coss worked at Goodwill Industries where he met Mike Rothman, the co-founder of Thrillist, who mentored him.
With Mike’s encouragement, Coss opened up Conbody a prison style fitness boot camp 8 months after being released.
Now 3 years later, Coss is ready to expand Conbody from the one gym they have on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and add a new facility in Midtown Manhattan. In addition to this, Coss and his team have taken Conbody online. 2 ½ months ago he released Conbody Live. An online service that touts “Workout with your favorite ex-con.” For $5 per month you can do just that.
“More than 4,000 people from across the World have signed up and seen results,” Coss said.
He has even licensed out the concept to a team out in Pittsburgh.
Coss’ hope is to help both people trying to lose weight and ex-cons trying to start fresh.
“It’s a win-win,” he said.
When asked what he would tell fellow ex-cons he gave this advice:
“Be consistent. Do the right things. Everything will work out. Trust the process.”