For the formerly incarcerated, starting again can be an immense challenge. However, Hector Guadalupe, who was only 23 when his 10-year prison sentence began, found a way to help himself and others rediscover who they are and how to begin again.
“When I was serving my time, throughout the course of 10 years of prison is where I found this obsession, this love for fitness and for wellness, meditation, and yoga,” Guadalupe explains.
After spending time at the prison gym and losing 90 pounds, physical activity, mindfulness, and self-care became Guadalupe’s passion. “For the first time in my life, I actually had to sit with myself and rediscover who I am and my passion and what I loved about myself and my life,” he says.
While he was incarcerated, “wellness opened the door to [him], and [he] gained national certification and studied on the industry in New York.” During this time, he shared his newfound love with other incarcerated individuals. He began to train thousands of men in the best fitness practices and even shared his knowledge with staff members. “I use wellness as my tool to communicate with people,” he adds.
However, when he was finally released, he struggled to find a corporate health club to hire him because of his prior conviction. After many doors slammed in his face, he was eventually given the opportunity as a trainer, and along the way, A Second U Foundation was born, Guadalupe’s own program that he developed so that other previously incarcerated people wouldn’t have to go through the same frustrating rejection he experienced upon his release.
A Second U was founded in 2015, and since then the foundation has graduated 200 people. Three-quarters of the graduates go on to work in corporate health clubs and boutique gyms, and the rest have started their own businesses. Remarkably, only two out of all the participants have reoffended.
Through the program, participants learn important skills that will help them in their professional endeavors, like how to close a sale and work with clients. Thanks to the generosity of private foundations and grants provided by corporate partnerships, the program costs exactly zero dollars for participants. In fact, participants gain $1,500 in financial support and other resources just for committing to the program.
Through Guadalupe’s inspired determination, the foundation was able to land a partnership with sneaker brand VEJA to start a running club in New York City every other Saturday.
Guadalupe’s end goal is to ensure that health clubs become more inclusive to all types of people, including those who are formerly incarcerated.
“We want corporate health clubs to do right… we need them to open those doors.”
Source Image: A Second U Foundation