Coss Marte started selling drugs at age 13 and by 19, he says, he was making $2 million a year. After serving a prison sentence, he founded a “prison style” fitness boot camp called ConBody.
Coss, a 3-time felon, grew up in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He was regularly exposed to drugs, violence and poverty. His role models quickly became drug dealers that introduced him to the lucrative business. Starting at the age of 13, he began selling marijuana and cocaine near his neighborhood corner store. At the age of 23, Coss was caught in a drug sting and sentenced to seven years in prison.
At 5′ 8″ and 230 pounds, Coss was informed by prison doctors if he did not begin leading a healthier lifestyle he “might not live to be released.” As a father, Coss didn’t want to die behind bars, so he began working out. Over a few months, he lost over 70 pounds. He also garnered the ridicule of others in the prison yard, but also the respect and interest of some. As more and more people came out to join him in his workouts, he helped a group of inmates together lose 1,000 pounds.
After an incident in which an officer believed Coss was charging at him (in actuality, Coss was bending over to pick up his glasses that had fallen), three years were tacked onto Coss’ prison sentence, and he was put into Solitary Confinement. While in solitary, Coss created a business plan to make his prison workout approach a viable business on the outside.
Despite the recognition he gets today, having been at the Espy Awards (we had to reschedule our original recording so he could attend), being featured on The Real Housewives of New York, and tons of magazine articles on what he’s doing, it wasn’t easy. It was a long, slow struggle to find success, with a lot of blockers along the way. Today, ConBody has a growing, successful business model, and also helps other ex-cons create a sustainable life that not only supports them and their families, but also helps them stay on the right side of the law. Of the 40 people who work for or have worked for ConBody, none has gone back to prison. Coss has created more than just a fitness business, he’s created a social enterprise in a sustainable way, and shares how it all happened with us on the show.
Key Points from the Episode with Coss Marte: