This Gym Employs Formerly Incarcerated Individuals as Personal Trainers [Insights]

This Gym Employs Formerly Incarcerated Individuals as Personal Trainers [Insights]

All my life I’ve been in and
out of jail,
and all my life I’ve been doing
push-ups, pull-ups
-push-ups, pull-ups, dips,
– That’s the one good thing
about the program,
knowing that you got someone
behind you that supports you.
Jon’s door is always open for
you. That basically gave me the
Well, I gotta really change my
life and really start taking it
My name is Jon Feinman.I’m the Founder and Executive
Director of Inner City
-Jon came to my neighborhood
one day.
And at that time my
neighborhood was one of the
most dangerous neighborhoods in
He came by himself, nobody with
People thought he was, like,
the police, so people didn’t
want to listen to him.
Like, we don’t even know who
you are, so how we supposed to
trust you?
I’ve been in prison basically
my whole life, since I was
I’ve been a victim of violence.
I got shot, like, in my lower
Jon was the first person that
actually reached out to me
while I was in a hospital bed.
He told me,
“I’m going to help you change
your life.”
Then once I got out the
hospital, he was just calling
my phone nonstop.
“Yo, I gotta get you to the gy!
I gotta get you to the gym!”
That extra push, that made me
just, like, yeah, I gotta
change my life.
Like, an outsider really cares
for me.
That’s a perfect squat
for you, right there. -The mission of Inner City
Weightlifting is to work with
young people who are at the
risk for violence and creates
this really genuine form of
inclusion that disrupts the
system of segregation. I’ve never been shot at.
I’ve never done time in jail.
It’s almost condescending for
me to think that I do
that I do know what our students
are going through. Someone just got out of prisonThey don’t have an ID.
They have probation fees.
They can’t pay their probation
fees without a job. They can’t
get a job without an ID.
So what we’re able to do by
listening is solve some of
these really fundamental
We’ll pay for our students’ ID.
We’ll take them to the RMV
We’ll do what we need
to help them get the necessary
We had this common interest.Soccer ball rolls my way, I doa
couple tricks, kick it back.
And I think that’s the real
power in how we can leverage
It gives us that common
-Were you in contact with ICW
while you were in jail?
-The whole time. The whole tim.
Several people, too.
My mind was just kinda clouded
while I was in there
it’s kinda hard to focus while
you’re in there. They sent me cards.
They sent me things to study
for physical training.
They sent me letters just
seeing how I was doing.
So it’s like I always kept in
contact with them.
-We find our students primarily
through word of mouth from our
Can they get from point A to
point B safely?
If they can’t,
chances are they’re one of our
target students. -Put ‘em on my knees, sit down-On a quest to get a job,I went to numerous places
before I came here because I
felt like
I wasn’t ready to interact with
people on that level yet. It was just no transition
It was, like, fresh out of jai,
back to life and bills.
I love teaching people how to
It’s just amazing how something
I do on a daily basis I can
make money off of.
Being here makes me a positive
I’m doing positive things,
and this is where I want to be.
-For our students, you build
this incredible network
of support that’s not just
there to pay you, but will
help out when you do hit those
bumps on the road.
-Alright Carolyn, first thing
My favorite part of being a
personal trainer is seeing my
clients sweat,
helping them smile at the end
of the day.
It feels good.
It feels good for both of us.
There’s a lot of people doing
things that they don’t love,
and they’re not making money
out of it.
The same thing Jon’s doing, I
want to do that, too.
Open my own gym and really help
kids, too.
I used to be known for, like,
all the bad negative stuff.
Now I’m known for, like,
positive stuff. Everything’s
just a good outcome for me.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Felons need more jobs Im not a felon but I hate seeing strong motherfuckers getting no attention at these jobs because of their past. That's discrimination to me. These ppl are still citizens still your neighbors. Stop being affriad of this guys and team up with the ex cons cause some of these cons got some multi million dollar ideas. I've heard a few myself.

  2. Damnnnn he can squat 70kg and he talks like he's out of breath … When I think of a personal trainer I want someone on who I can see the results not some scrawny ass dude

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