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Fit For Re-Entry Program at DC Jail

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The Fit for Re-Entry Pilot Program will help up to thirty-six incarcerated clients reduce their risk for metabolic syndrome by completing the Fit for Life 13 Week Program. The program is nearly exactly the same as the award-winning Fitness Trucking Driver Health and Fitness 13 Week Program which averages 18.3 lbs. of weight loss or 7% of one’s body weight. In addition, up to twelve incarcerated clients will earn their personal training certification. In the process, each of the twelve can earn $195 during the program, have a guaranteed job interview for the open market through the certifying agency, and are eligible for employment with Fitness Trucking as virtual coaches upon release. The program gives the incarcerated specific and valuable life and job skills. It is hoped that the success of this model will lead to cost effective adoption at prison facilities throughout the country.

Project History

After the very successful Yale Class of '93 25th Year Reunion in May, 2018, we (Siphiwe Baleka and Marc Howard) discussed privately the idea of bringing together our passion for both fitness and criminal justice reform. We talked about creating a vocational training program that would provide certain incarcerated men and women with personal training certification, leading to post-release jobs as virtual fitness/wellness coaches. We believe this can be a winning formula in every respect—creating better health for a population that lives in very unhealthy conditions, providing gainful employment and thereby reducing recidivism, and contributing to larger public wellbeing and societal acceptance.

During our discussion, we realized that Fitness Trucking’s Driver Health and Fitness (DHF) Program was ideally suited to incarcerated people. Like truck drivers, prisoners live in a box, do not have access to their own kitchens, deal with food storage issues, and receive limited access to gyms, exercise equipment, and organic food. The DHF Program could be adapted to help prisoners lose weight and develop motivation to take care of their health. This will also lead to increased self-esteem, positivity, and overall wellness.

We are confident that it is possible to develop and expand the fitness culture within the prison system. We know that it is possible to provide the education and certification of personal trainers within the prison. And numerous studies have shown that such education and training programs will reduce prison violence as well as recidivism upon release. In short, we believe that a path to employment through virtual coaching will make for stronger, safer, and healthier communities.

We are interested in beginning a pilot program that would bring both Fitness Trucking’s proven fitness program and the certification of personal trainers into the DC Jail, where Marc runs Georgetown University’s Prison Scholars Program. The timing and climate for such a program is perfect, as prison reform is perhaps the one issue that has genuine bipartisan support and enthusiasm these days—see, for example, the recent White House summit on prison reform—and we hope to contribute to this national discussion with a successful and uplifting program.

Total Program Cost: $85,308.08

-       36 Clients completing Fit for Life 13 Week Program (losing weight and reducing risk for metabolic syndrome)

-       12 Clients trained to coach Group 2 and future groups

-       12 Clients earning professional personal training certification (26 week course)

-       Successful pilot program to be implemented in cost-effective way at facilities throughout America

-       Clients return to their communities with employment and as health champions

Marc Howard links:

The Hoya:
The Washington Post:
The New York Times:
The Atlantic:

Siphiwe Baleka links:

The Atlantic: 
Sports Illustrated:
Men's Health: 
CBS Evening News:
ABC Good Morning America:

Fundraising team (2)

Siphiwe Ka Baleka
Raised $1,010 from 2 donations
Springfield, MO
Marc Howard
Team member

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