The unemployment rate for ex-convicts is 8 times higher than that for the average citizen and it’s difficult to escape the connotation that a criminal record may bring during the hiring process. While specialized agencies exist to help this population find employment, no one is tackling this societal issue like Unibody Fitness. Through the company’s nonprofit, Second U Foundation, Unibody Fitness trains ex-convicts to become licensed personal trainers throughout gyms and health clubs in NYC. With all the challenges involved in re-entering the workplace, Unibody is softening the transition one personal trainer at a time.
AlleyWatch spoke with the founder Hector Guadalupe about the company and its future plans.
Tell us about the product or service.
Unibody Fitness is a New York-based fitness company that trains individuals, groups and corporations, focusing on targeted movement and nutritional self-care. Unibody Fitness partners with my nonprofit, A Second U Foundation, to train and employ formerly incarcerated individuals as personal trainers in health clubs throughout New York City, cultivating a supportive community that provides the resources and network that ensures success.
How is it different?
Unibody Fitness is different than other personal training companies because in conjunction with our nonprofit, A Second U Foundation, we provide formerly incarcerated individuals with education and job placement as personal trainers. Through job creation and the cultivation of a community, Unibody Fitness helps to reduce recidivism, and improve morale post incarceration.
We are attacking the fitness industry in New York City and in other major cities. The fitness industry market size in the U.S. is close to $30 billion.
What is the business model?
We charge per month based on number of sessions or classes. This varies for each client since we customize plans for individuals.
What inspired the business?
I spent 10 years in federal prison, and spent most of my time there in the gym. When I left, I had to decide what to do for my career. I became a certified personal trainer and immediately found employment in a New York City Sports Club. After five years, I branched out on my own to launch Unibody Fitness and my nonprofit, A Second U. We source our trainers from A Second U, so we have a constant stream of new trainers.
Tell us about the impact that your business has had in terms of creating employment?
We have employed close to 70 formerly incarcerated individuals in our first two years, which is more than most New York City businesses can say. I am very proud of this number. We have personal training directors, recruiters, and fitness managers all over New York City seeking to hire our trainers.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We plan to raise additional funding for A Second U so that we can expand to every major city throughout the country with a high recidivism rate and a strong market for fitness.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
“A.B.C. Always Be Closing.”
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
I’d love to be in touch with Jay-Z who is committed to exposing the injustices of the prison system. We have a lot to discuss!
Why did you launch in New York?
Born and raised here! Greatest city in the world!
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
Sala One Nine! It’s on 19th between 5th and 6th, across from Complete Body where I train clients.