Story Shine Profile: He Ran a $2mil Drug Empire. Now He Hustles Prison-Style Fitness Bootcamps

Coss Marte is an entrepreneur at heart. He has been since he was a kid.

That’s the real reason he started dealing.

Growing up poor to immigrant parents, Coss admits that, as a kid, his only dream was to be rich. He also had the vision and hustle to pull it off. By the time he was 19, he was running a drug syndicate that was earning over $2 million a year by marketing to drunk white 20-somethings in New York City. On some days, Coss says, he and his guys would pull in $30,000 in cash.

Then, he got busted.

After serving 4 years in prison, Coss returned to society intent on turning his life around — by using his cunning entrepreneurial skills and unrelenting passion. But this time, he would start dealing something else:

Prison-style workouts that he created and developed in his 9×6 jail cell.

Coss himself lost 70 pounds in 6 months when he was imprisoned, and started testing his new workout routines while serving his time. He helped 23 inmates lose over 1,000 pounds.

Upon his release, Coss’s new mission has been to bring health and fitness on the cheap to thousands of bootcamp participants. And, Coss now carries a social mission that’s close to his heart: he planned to hire 50 formerly incarcerated trainers by the end of 2017 to help give guys like him a second chance.

I actually first heard Coss’s story on the Startup podcast by Gimlet Media while on a bout of personal travels in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016. To my surprise, when I returned home to Rhode Island and attended the Business Innovation Factory conference in Providence, Coss was there speaking. I introduced myself.

A few weeks later, I was working to help Coss and his team of personal trainers tell their stories on their new ConBody Live website.

As a Story Shine client, Coss needed a story that authentically expressed his personal journey and navigated a challenging narrative that both leaned on prison-style lingo and branding to sell his company’s workouts, while not proliferating “ex-con” stigmas and stereotypes.

His story deserved to explain his complex, intricate journey without being overly defensive of the errors of his past – instead, it deserved emphasis on his aspiration to create change in the wake of mistakes.

Coss’s new story used light humor and playfulness to break stigmas around his image as a formerly incarcerated individual, while articulating his deep passion for creating change in the fitness industry, and in prisoner reform, by showcasing how he has led by example and helped over 3,500 people already make strides towards their fitness goals.

“Dave really spoke our language,” Coss reports back, adding, “And although it wasn’t easy, he was able to smoothly communicate every one of our goals. Thank you!”

Embracing a new narrative is helping Coss revolutionize his life – and the lives of his trainers and clients.

Are you ready to finally share the heart and soul of your story?

Take a look at my Written Story Services and see if they’re right for you.

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