“When Coss Marte went to prison 10 years ago, he was faced with not one, but two big challenges: lose weight and discover a legitimate career upon release. Luckily for him, overcoming the first obstacle helped him find the answer to the other.”NPR
As a teenager, Coss Marte was flying high on New York’s Lower East Side as a drug dealer, making money hand over fist. But after watching his life and those of his loved ones fall apart, he realized things had to change. That change occurred when he was sentenced to prison.
Within the space of his own cell and without workout equipment, Coss took the initiative to improve his circumstances and created ConBody, a bodyweight-only approach to fitness. This plan helped him drop 70 pounds from his dangerously obese frame, reversing a negative health prognosis of surviving the next five years. Once he saw that his workout plan was not only effective, but accessible, he knew he’d found a pathway to health and ultimately to a new lifeand designed a regimen to train his fellow inmates.
When he left prison, he returned to the Lower East Side, but not to his criminal career. Instead he worked out in his old hangouts and gained a small following that turned into an acclaimed business, winning entrepreneurial awards and the support of Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran.
Coss’s method works. These exercises are for anyone, anywhere. All you need is yourself and the space of a jail cell to get started. It’s perfect for busy lifestyles on the go and can be done in hotel rooms, small apartments, and in your backyard.
With fun, engaging exercises, ConBody: The Revolutionary Bodyweight Boot Camp will help give you the extraordinary hope and resilience to improve your health and life.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
About a year after I went to Rikers for the second time, the prison doctors told me that I'd probably be dead in five years.
I was only twenty-three.
* * *
You never plan to get fat and so out of shape that it starts killing you, same as you never plan to end up in prison.
You're just living life, trying to make it better, dealing with the pain of it, then things go wrong — something always goes wrong — and the next thing you know, your vices have won and you're in a cell at Rikers and your body feels something like a prison, too.
I'd been to Rikers before, about eight years earlier, and the funny thing about it is that I was in good enough shape back then to literally exercise my way to freedom.
I was seventeen years old and I was running a drug-dealing business based in my home neighborhood, Manhattan's Lower East Side. I'd been dealing drugs since I was thirteen and I'd gotten pretty good at it. Made millions a year. One day the NYPD caught me making a delivery to a crack house, and they found about a dozen bags of cocaine I'd sewn into the lining of my jacket.
I got six years (three in prison, three on parole).
Soon as they let me, I entered "Shock," a boot-camp program that inmates can join if they have three or fewer years left on their sentence and don't have a violent record. Run by f-ing crazy ex-Marines, the idea behind the program is to apparently hammer some discipline into our heads.
Every day, we were up at 5:00 a.m., given just eight minutes to dress, and everything had to be done just the right way — beds made right, clothes worn right, addressing superiors just right: Yes, sir! this; Hoo-ah! that.
And every day, they made us work out for hours and hours. Jogging, jumping jacks, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, on and on. Many nights, they woke us up in nothing but our boxers and bare feet, even during the winter in the snow. It was brutal and seemed like their idea of helping us was just to torture us for six months — but if you made it through all six months without quitting, then you got to go home.
I was in good shape. I'd played soccer and basketball until my junior year, and I was one of the best players on my high school teams before I quit to focus on my drug business.
I made it through Shock, and it definitely didn't "rehabilitate" me the way they claimed it should. When I first got locked up, I still worked it out to keep running my business from the inside (and even made some money sneaking drugs in for guys who were locked up with me).
And soon as I went home, my boys celebrated by showering me with $10,000 in cash in the middle of Eldridge Street and giving me a new Lincoln Navigator.
That's about when I started getting unhealthy.
* * *
During that next year, my girlfriend gave birth to my son, "Lil C," and although I knew I wasn't ready for kids, I fell in love with him the second I saw him.
For a minute, I thought that Lil C was helping me settle down. I wanted to be the right kind of dad for him, you know? Take him to Yankees games, not do work that risked taking me away from him, that kind of stuff.
But before long, I was right back out there, hustling more than ever. I never moved anymore. I bought with Joey, my business partner, a brand-new BMW M3 and basically turned it into an office. I drove everywhere — even if I was just meeting someone a hundred feet down the street, I'd drive there instead of walking.
And even then I didn't move, because I usually had someone in the passenger seat working like an assistant who would hop out to handle things.
I ate like crap. Nothing but street food.
I drank a lot.
I smoked two packs a day.
And I smoked a lot of weed.
I was living life exactly how I wanted, with no clue that it was killing me.
* * *
It was March 2009 when the cops busted me again. They'd been trying to get me for years and long story short, they finally did, thanks to a guy I worked with who didn't know they were tracking his cell phone.
Among other charges — organized crime and the like — they charged me as a drug kingpin.
This time I got twelve years.
I spent the first eleven months back at Rikers while I fought the charges. I was still able to get weed — some COs would sell it to me, which is actually pretty common in there — and I still ate like crap, because prison food is almost nothing but crap.
What you see in the movies is what they feed you, if not worse. Mostly we ate sloppy joe–type stuff, and frequently, on especially gross days, some kind of porridge with black seeds in it. I don't really know what it was, only that it came in plastic bags that they boiled and then poured into your pan — and it was gooey and tasted disgusting. No seasoning or anything. We called it "bird food."
Sometimes we got old-school burgers with the thin, flat patties that were okay, but really, the only food we looked forward to was on chicken patty day (though we would call them pigeons, not chickens).
To stay sane, I'd treat myself to the "Prison Burrito."
The Prison Burrito was a custom-made delicacy from items you could only buy at the commissary: ramen noodle soup, cheese rice, Doritos, Slim Jims, maybe some tuna or salmon. Heat the soup and the rice and crumple up the chips, and then dump the soup and rice into the chip bag, mix everything else in there, and boom — Prison Burrito.
So yeah, I was fat and getting fatter.
Still, I had no idea my health was so bad until those prison doctors told me I was basically dying.
* * *
Before I left Rikers, New York's drug laws changed, and those changes reduced my sentence from twelve years to seven. (Shout-out to Governor David Paterson!)
Fighting my charges didn't work out, though, so they transferred me upstate to Ulster Correctional Facility. The food there wasn't any better, but the doctors gave me a medical exam.
I knew I was fat, and I wasn't exactly surprised when they told me my blood pressure and cholesterol were bad — but then they dropped the bomb: My results were so bad that if I didn't change something, then sometime in the next five years, I would probably die of a heart attack.
I was twenty-four.
* * *
Soon as I got back to my cell I paced back and forth for a few minutes, then I did some jumping jacks, then I used the side of my bunk to do some push-ups and dips, then I did some sit-ups.
Although really, it's more accurate to say that I tried to do them.
I could barely make it through ten. I counted them off military style, like in Shock: Instead of counting "one, two, three," I counted, "one-two-three-ONE, one-two-three-TWO," making ten reps were really more like twenty ... but still.
I was dizzy and nauseous and pouring sweat and had to lie down on my bunk.
All I could think was, I cannot die in this place.
FIRST TWO MONTHS
About Seventy Pounds to Go
At seven o'clock the next morning, I went to the yard and I tried to do some pull-ups.
I couldn't even do one.
Couldn't do dips, either.
I found a bench and used it to do assisted dips.
Then I jogged. I barely made it two laps. About half a mile.
And I felt dead.
* * *
After a month at Ulster, they transferred me again, this time to Greene Correctional Facility, also in upstate New York, and I stuck with it.
I worked until I was doing a lot of stretches just to make myself move and use my muscles again, plus two sets of twenty-five military counts of these exercises:
* Jumping jacks
* Calf raises
* Dips or assisted dips
* Pull-ups (even though I had to get someone to help lift me)
* Arm spins
* Push-ups superset with gravity push-ups (standing upright, starting with my hands at my shoulders and raising them until my arms were fully extended, bringing them down, then going down to do a push-up)
(I've broken down the above workout after this chapter, starting here, as my Tier 1 workout.)
* * *
Eating-wise, I cut out all the junk prison food, and for the first couple of months, I basically lived off canned tuna.
* * *
Since we only got four hours a day in the yard, I also worked out all the time in my cell, doing as many jumping jacks and push-ups and dips as I was able.
And when I couldn't do anything else, I just paced two or three steps back and forth, just trying to burn calories.
I wore extra sweatshirts and duct-taped plastic garbage bags to wear over my clothes to make me sweat more, like Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook.
And no matter what, I kept going. When I jogged laps around the yard, I had to pass another yard on the other side of the fence, the yard for S-Block — troublemakers, guys in partial solitary confinement. Every time I passed their fence, the inmates would swarm to it and mock me. They would yell at me through the fence and bark like dogs.
"Hey, fat dude!"
"Run, Forrest, run!"
"Run, run, Honey Bun!"
All through the first couple of months, I heard so many fat jokes. Some days, they didn't really bother me, but a lot of days they really got to me. Sometimes I wanted to give up.
But I just kept moving, and I didn't react, and didn't let them know they were getting to me. Once they get a reaction from you, they know they have power over you, and it'll only get worse after that.
* * *
And after two months, I could do twenty to thirty reps per set, and jog about a mile without stopping, and I had lost twenty pounds.
TIER 1 ENTRY-LEVEL WORKOUTS
With these workouts, and with all other workout sections through-out the book, I will make a simple list for you to check off.
If you're confused on how to do the exercises, don't worry: After each list, I have also included photos of every exercise and detailed descriptions of how to perform them.
In this general order (military counts of 10–25):
* Neck and shoulder stretch
* Overhead arm pull
* Abdominal stretch
* Chest stretch
* Upper back stretch
* Calf stretch toe pull
* Hamstring stretch (standing)
* Butterfly stretch
* Quad stretch (standing)
* Lower back stretch
* Knee kisser
* Groin stretch (standing)
* Scissor kick
* Neck rotation
* Ankle rotation
* Leg swing
* Arm swing
The first couple of months, I jogged two to four laps at about the length of a standard track, and more if I could hack it, but honestly, I usually couldn't. If it was impossible to go for a run in the yard, I'd run in place in my cell.
In addition, I rotated the following exercises, doing 2 sets of each:
* Jumping jack
* Calf raise
* Standard dip and/or assisted dip (bench dip)
* Pull-up (wide/close/regular)
* Chin-up (close/wide/regular)
* Gravity push-up
* Arm spin
Some days, I also did laps in between sets. For instance, one set of 25 jumping jacks, then run a lap, then do 25 more, and so on.
TIER 1 EXERCISE PHOTOS
Neck and shoulder stretch.
Place both hands behind your back, on the small of the back. Grab one wrist. Pull that wrist toward the opposite arm. Bring your neck toward the arm, the same direction that the arm is pulling. Make your ear almost touch your shoulder.
Overhead arm pull.
Put one arm over your back. Use your opposite arm to push down the elbow.
Interlock your fingers at your chest. Then rotate them upward so your palms face the sky. Try to keep your hands behind your head. Open up your belly.
Interlock your fingers behind your waist, at the small of your back. Bend knees slightly. Bend forward.
Flip your hands outward, bringing your arms up. Feel your chest stretch.
Quad stretch (standing).
Stand up. Stare at one spot to keep your balance. Raise foot toward glute. Grab foot. Pull foot into glute.
Feel quad muscle stretch in the front of the upper leg.
Upper back stretch.
Interlock your fingers on your chest. Stretch them fully extended outward, palms facing away from you.
Curve your back to fully extend your arms forward.
Calf stretch toe pull.
Place your toe up to the sky, heel on the ground. Reach down with both hands to grab that toe. Bend your opposite knee if you need to.
Hamstring stretch (standing).
Put both feet together. Lock your knees.
Reach toward the ground. Try to touch your toes.
Put both feet on the ground together sitting down. Grab your ankles. Use your elbows to push down on your knees and open up your groin area.
Lower back stretch.
Sit down on the ground. Cross one leg over the other. Bring your opposite arm over your opposite knee looking toward the wall or in back of you. Twist your body the opposite way. Feel your lower back stretch.
Lay flat on back. Grab the knee of one leg. Bring your head toward your knee. Try to kiss your knee.
Bring your opposite foot off the ground as well.)
Groin stretch (standing).
Spread legs wide. Reach down to the ground in the middle, and/or lean to one side or the other.
Lay flat on back, or sit in reclined position, and keep feet about six inches off the ground.
Spread legs open like scissors, then close. Repeat.
Stand up straight. Rotate head in a big circle about eight times in each direction.
Stand up straight. Put one foot's toe on the ground. Keep foot loose. Rotate full so ankle stretches.
Lean against wall or something similar for balance if you prefer. Kick one leg all the way forward and up. Then kick back. When you kick back, try to kick your own butt. To do side leg swings: Simply kick leg side to side in front of body. Relax your hip flexors on this and let them open up.
Put arms to side. Swing them back and forth, one backward, one forward.
Keep your feet together, hands by your side. Jump and spread feet so that you land with your feet shoulder width apart. At the same time, raise hands so that they touch over the top of your head as you land. Jump again, bringing feet together so that they are next to each other when you land. At the same time, bring your hands down to your sides. Repeat quickly.
Stand up straight. Bring your heels up off the ground about five inches. Go up and down.
Place your hands on each side of parallel bars. Push up. Bring your feet off the ground and make your arms straight. This is the starting position. Then dip so that your elbows go down to a 90-egree angle. Keep your feet off the ground. Then push back up.
Assisted dip (bench dip).
Use something like a chair, bench, or ledge. Sit on it. Bring your butt off the ledge, to the side. Keep your hands on the edge of the surface. Bring your arms to a 90-degree angle as you dip down. Your butt should almost touch the ground but not quite. Then push yourself back up.
Grab the pull-up bar at shoulder width, palms facing away from you. Thumbs either wrapped around the bar or tucked under the bar. Pull yourself up until your chin goes past the bar. Lower yourself until your arms are straight. Repeat. Beginners: I recommend practicing by doing one pull-up and then holding for 10 seconds. Build up to doing more reps.
Excerpted from "Conbody"
Copyright © 2018 Coss Athletics, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction More than Fitness 1
1 Locked Up 5
2 First Two Months About Seventy Pounds to Go 10
Tier 1-Entry-Level Workouts 12
Tier 1-Exercise Photos 15
Convict Diet 45
3 Month Three About Fifty Pounds to Go 52
Tier 2-Next-Level Workouts 60
Tier 2-Exercise Photos 62
Card Game 84
Card Game-Photos 86
4 Month Four, Five, and Six The Last Thirty Pounds 94
Tier 3-Supermax Level Workouts 97
Tier 3-Exercise Photos 99
21 Down-Push-up Game 110
5 Keeping It Off 112
6 Shock 116
7 Addiction 118
8 Recovery 124
ConBody Boot Camp-One-Month Starter Plan 131
ConBody Boot Camp-Two More Months 161
ConBody Boot Camp-Month Three 188
Final Note 215