Second chances aren't always given freely and Hector Guadalupe knows that all too well. This was the genesis behind A Second U, a foundation geared towards giving incarcerated people a second chance to rebuild themselves and put them on a path to success after incarceration. We sat down with Hector to hear a bit more. This is what he said.
What is A Second U and how was it first started?
A Second U Foundation is our nation’s first fitness nonprofit that nationally certifies and provides job placement for formerly incarcerated people as personal trainers in corporate health clubs through New York City. After 10 years in federal prison, I worked hard to build a successful personal training career of my own, even though no one wanted to hire me because of my background. No one wanted to give me a second chance. I wanted others coming home to have access to the skills that helped me build my business, our community to be their network, and offer a second chance that mattered. That was the inception of A Second U Foundation.
What is the meaning behind the name?
The meaning behind the name is that everyone deserves a second chance, even those who aren’t formerly incarcerated.
How did fitness play a role in your life during and after incarceration?
While incarcerated, fitness was my form of therapy. It was also the only way for me to not only get healthy but battle the systemic mental chains that had been put on me. After incarceration fitness has been a vehicle to empower others.
How long does it take for someone to go through the program?
Our program is a 6-week intensive. Our students go to classes Monday through Friday from 1 PM to 3 PM to get ready for their national certification exam and learn the soft skills of sales. Every Friday they shadow personal trainers for more hands-on experience. In the last three Saturdays of the program, our participants go to software training at Microsoft. They sit for their national exam the sixth week and then are sent on job interviews for placement.
Beyond getting certified to be a personal trainer, what other benefits does A Second U offer to those who go through the program?
A Second U offers a community of support while transitioning home, as well as exposure to a lot of different industries and people through fitness.
What advice would you give someone in your shoes?
When you believe in something, no matter how much you aren’t accepted, you have to keep moving, keep fighting, keep going. You can’t accept the titles and expectations others place on you. You have to define yourself.
Favorite song to workout to?
Nipsey Hussle- “Hussle and Motivate”
What are the next steps for A Second U?
We are working on getting a donated location in the Flatiron District.
Favorite pair of Rhone gear?
The Second U Commuter Jogger that Rhone donated. It’s hands down my favorite.