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New York City man helps formerly incarcerated become fitness trainers, gives them purpose

Following his own release, Hector Guadalupe founded A Second U Foundation to help others like him from returning to prison.

New York City man helps formerly incarcerated become fitness trainers, gives them purpose
Image Source: https://asecondufoundation.org/

Hector Guadalupe is the founder of A Second U Foundation, a non-profit that helps those formerly incarcerated get certified as personal trainers and build careers in the fitness industry. He was incarcerated for 10 years, where he became interested in fitness. When he was released, he gained his certification as a personal trainer and spent nine months filling out applications so he could work at an elite gym in Manhattan, New York City. Guadalupe knew his past made it difficult for him to get a job. So, he wanted to develop a program that would make the journey easier for others with a history of imprisonment, CNN reports.



 

"Six days out of the week, [I was] literally at every corporate health club, filling out applications," he shared in an interview with the media outlet. "Nobody was calling me back and I knew why: because of my past. But I didn't give up." As a result of his persistence, he landed a job after nine months. For four years, he worked without a day off to establish himself in the fitness scene in New York City. Now, he helps others who want to do the same. Working with a team of volunteers, Guadalupe offers a free eight-week program for 10 to 15 students every quarter.



 

The group meets six days a week to prepare for the national certification exam. The non-profit founder shared, "They're learning anatomy, bone structure, kinesiology... They're also taught how to just be effective coaches." The program, in addition to providing study materials and exam fees, now supplies students with a free tablet with a keyboard, transportation, new clothing, software classes, and a $1,300 stipend. Coaches also mentor students, guiding them with far more than coursework. "That's what we're here for, to support each other in that journey," Guadalupe affirmed. "We're actually a family."



 

Furthermore, Guadalupe helps students who graduate from the program get help finding a job. Since the program was first launched in 2016, more than 200 students have graduated and only two have reoffended—a recidivism rate of less than one percent. According to the founder, the reason behind his students' success is simple: "They start at $35 an hour, top out at $80 an hour. Full corporate benefits. When you provide people with livable wages, they're able to feed their families and be productive members of society," he stated. According to a 2018 study conducted by the University of Michigan, more than one in four formerly incarcerated individuals cannot find work. Of those who do, 80 percent earn less than $15,000 in their first year out of prison. As a result, nearly half of federal inmates re-offend once they are released.



 

When asked what he would like people to know about his work, Guadalupe responded, "When people get out of prison, society thinks it's just easy to go [to] school or get a job, and it's not that easy. Once you have a record, nothing is set up for them to win. This is why we have a high recidivism rate in our country. You can't give someone a mop and say, 'This is your future. Take minimum wage and deal with it.' We need communities to get together and create opportunities that guide people on the path to real financial security. And that's why we are A Second U. We want to give you your second chance at life."



 

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