BrownTown talks abolition, branding, and burpees with Coss Marte, founder of CONBODY, a "prison-style" fully bodyweight fitness studio that hires formerly incarcerated individuals. Using Coss' experiences and SoapBox's Fitness Against Fascism series as models, the team unpacks the connections between healthy communities and the prison-industrial complex.
The founder of CONBODY, Coss Marte developed his bodyweight training style when he was incarcerated for four years at Rikers Island Jail on drug charges. Coss lost 70 pounds in 6 months and found his calling, ready for a new path. He founded CONBODY fitness studio in New York City, where he hires other formerly incarcerated folks who have turned their lives around through fitness. Listen to more of Coss’ story on aSweatLife’s podcast #WeGotGoals Episode 94! He has also been featured in The New York Times, Buzz Feed, Elle, Vice,The Startup podcast, and more. (Bio sources: aSweatLife and CONBODY)
In this follow-up to Ep. 30 - Holistic Health & Fitness Against Fascism ft. Mel Phillips, Coss joins BrownTown from NYC via Skype to discuss his journey creating CONBODY, collaborating on SoapBox's Fitness Against Fascism 3 (FAF3) event (details below), and the effect of the prison-industrial complex (PIC) on healthy communities. Similar to the SoapBox event, the gang unpacks now-mainstream views on criminal "justice" reform, the pros/cons of the current narrative-shift, and the physical/mental health effects that mass racialized incarceration has at the individual, familial, and community level, all through an abolitionist framework (watch Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project "The Long Term" video here). The gang sifts through related topics including the cultural impact of Ava DuVernay's 13th documentary, intentions in branding socially-minded enterprises, Coss' CONBODY book, and even SoapBox catching smoke on Twitter (1, 2).
Coss and BrownTown take an unusual turn and focus on New York City: They touch on the escalation of NYPD's subway crackdown and protesters (1, 2, 3) the movement to close Rikers Island Jail (and what do do next), as well as Coss' brother Chris Marte's run for City Council in District 1 in 2020.
FITNESS AGAINST FASCISM
Fitness Against Fascism (FAF) is a workout event series and fundraiser curated by and benefiting SoapBox Productions and Organizing. It pairs an anti-oppressive, liberatory-minded high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout and trauma-informed yoga session with a community conversation about real holistic health, the impact of structural -isms in our everyday lives, and how to challenge them all while getting a well-rounded workout! FAF decolonizes the notion that fitness is apolitical as the event curates a space for sweat and solidarity in order to breakdown systems and institutions of oppression that affect every industry, including (and especially) the allied healthcare continuum.
Fitness Against Fascism 3: Prison-Industrial Complex & Healthy Communities (FAF3) was hosted at Studio Three - River North on September 15, 2019. It featured a CONBODY workout with Coss, trauma-informed yoga flow with Mel Phillips, and a panel-led conversation with activists, community organizers, and formerly incarcerated citizens on the effect of the prison-industrial complex on healthy communities (see SoapBoxPO.com/FAF for full details; Twitter promo here).
CREDITS: Intro/outro song Love & Prejudice by Young Toussaint. Audio engineered by Genta Tamashiro.
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