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Founder of Second U Hector Guadalupe Tells All About His Fitness Journey

Hector Guadalupe, an ex-con and founder of Second U, knows a thing or two when it comes to using barbells — and not only he's out stepping up his game, he's showing everyone that ex-cons do it, better. The Brooklyn native served 10 years in prison for drug dealing. He had the motivation to become a personal trainer, but when he was released and got his certificate, it was hard for the 40-year-old personal trainer. I had the chance to interview him.

1. I remember from our previous conversation about you starting the Second U Foundation. Can you tell me in detail what motivated you to create this foundation? 

HG: I spent 10 years in federal prison. I came home with a passion for fitness, in shape, and hungry for work. I also came home to a lot of closed doors, people not wanting to give me a chance. But, I persevered, and I built a successful personal training business. I decided to help people that came from the same situation as myself, who needed an open door. That was the inception of A Second U Foundation. My entire program is based exactly on how I became successful on my own. A Second U Foundation works to make sure that people coming home are not defined by their sentence, or their charge, but given the tools needed to be successful. We offer skills and guidance while providing a community to support them while they create careers for themselves as they rebuild their lives. We have gotten 137 men and women jobs, and have been glad to celebrate each and every one. We are proud to be a part of their process.

2. What was it like being in prison and how did it lead you to wellness?

HG: Prison held inhumane conditions: a lot of violence, discrimination from staff, and because of these conditions, fitness was a way for us to stay safe and defend ourselves.

3. When you got out of prison, what was the job process like for you?

HG: It was hard. I was faced with constant discrimination from corporate health clubs because of my past. During my first eight months home, I could not find employment.

4. Do you think it’s hard for African American men, especially those who are LGBT or incarcerated, to be accepted and respected in society? Why or why not?

HG: I think it’s hard for people of color, no matter what you are, an opportunity will be a challenge because Jim Crow still exists, discrimination still exist, in some places slavery exists- there is much to be overcome.

5. Let's jump right into your foundation. What is the process for incarcerated men who want to become personal trainers to join the Second U?

HG: We’re looking for people who are passionate about fitness and hungry to start a career. We recruit at New York’s two federal halfway houses and by word of mouth. People go through a two-step interview process.

6. What are some of the challenges you faced with the foundation, especially creating this from the ground up?

HG: Corporate health clubs denying graduates, who are formerly incarcerated, opportunities to thrive. One of our fights is to create awareness around better hiring practices.

7. What are your future goals for the foundation?

HG: Our long term goal is for us to become this country’s first wellness reentry center for formerly incarnated transitioning into the wellness industry and home.

8. What is your advice for someone who is formerly incarcerated who wants to become a trainer? HG: Skills are transferable-sales are sales, a lot of survival skills you have are transferable. The fitness you learned to survive, is transferable. There’s lots of valuable information and skills you have that are wanted out here. Have confidence in that.

Make sure to check out Second U Foundation here. If you like to donate, you can donate via paypal.

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