If Hector Guadalupe had chosen any other path in life, no one would have blamed him. Becoming a personal trainer, business owner, and non-profit organization founder wasn’t an obvious pathway for someone with Hector’s background and circumstances. But in hindsight, it might not have happened any other way.
You could say it was an inspiration, or motivation, or even destiny. Somewhere along the road, this incredibly talented personal trainer with a remarkable story to tell made the decision to take his own passion, work ethic, and drive, and help others reach their full potential, too.
As a top independent trainer at the 19th Street location, we wanted to shine a spotlight on Hector’s life story and personal mission. But his story – and the work he and his team does – goes much deeper than fitness. His non-profit organization helps formerly incarcerated men and women find success in life through careers personal training and mentorship.
Put simply: his work changes lives, and by extension, changes the world. Read Hector’s personal story below.
Spotlight on Hector Guadalupe & A Second U Foundation
Working With CompleteBody
The work I do here is two-fold, really. My team and I are independent contractors with CompleteBody. Through our company, Unibody Fitness NYC, we offer one on one personal training and small group training (3 to 4 people at a time), as well as group classes, at the 19th Street location.
We also run a nonprofit organization called A Second U Foundation out of CompleteBody Gym. Through A Second U Foundation, our team of successful, New York City-based personal trainers recruit, educate, and train formerly incarcerated men and women. We also facilitate job placement in health clubs throughout the city.
We have two programs. One is called “U. Training Camp”. In that program, a group of personal trainers – our core team – holds employment workshops at both federal reentry centers, and recruits people that have the potential or the certifications to be personal trainers. We help to facilitate job placement after completion of our program, which is 6 weeks long.
Our second program meets two days a week, and through this one, we mentor at-risk youth for the Supreme Court and work with a company called Cases. We focus on health and wellness and outreach to young people.
We’re based in New York City only, right now, but we plan to grow the organization beyond that.
Born in Old School New York
Being born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I came up in the “old school” New York – not like what people know it to be now. I was raised in a really poor family and struggled a lot, but at the same time, I was a good student. I was an athlete – loved to play ball, loved to play basketball, football, etc. So, being active just came naturally to me. That’s what you did back in the day in New York.
We didn’t have iPhones, computers – technology wasn’t booming back then. You had to actually go out and makeup games and be active. Everybody in the neighborhood was active.
So that’s where I got an early love for fitness, but there’s more to it than that.
Everybody had a story
I spent 10 years in federal prison. While incarcerated, there were a lot of people just like me – a lot of men just like me. We were suffering from the same upbringing and the same situation. And it was just something that you couldn’t help paying attention to because we all looked the same, dressed the same, were from the same urban communities, etc.
Everybody had a story. So many of these guys had A LOT of potentials. There were handsome guys, who were well spoken and physically looked amazing. But if you don’t have anybody who listens to you, and no one to talk to or communicate with on top of your limited options after incarceration, you’re just left wondering what you’re going to do.
It’s like being born and raised with a blindfold on. That’s exactly what it’s like. Knowing that, and growing up in the system – from 23 to 33 years old – it felt like my important years were spent there and gone.
These incarcerated men and women need someone to talk to and to teach them a skill when they come home. Believe it or not, everybody that’s incarcerated is somebody’s family; not everybody is a failure. They need a path.
A Light Bulb Went Off
I got in shape and started reading about the health and wellness industry while I was incarcerated. And I became obsessed with it – I knew it was what I wanted to do. While inside, all I did was help people work out. I think that’s where I found a love for just fitness alone.
So, I came home and got certified. As a personal trainer, I did really well at the health clubs – New York Health and Racket Club, New York Sports Club. And, two years ago a light bulb went off in my head.
We host quarterly social events for our clients, and trainers to network, have a good time and celebrate progress. I’ve always loved the community and seeing people have fun.
At some point, someone said, “You know what? These social events are really cool, but I think there’s something else for you. You like dealing with people. You like making people happy, but you gotta make people happy who no one wants to help.”
There was a part of me that was missing. That’s when I decided to go after people that came from the same situation as myself, and that needed somebody. When I came home, I didn’t have anybody to teach me anything.
People Need the Help I Didn’t Get
My entire program is based exactly on how I became successful on my own. I didn’t have any help. Yet, I still managed to get top numbers, and there are managers throughout New York that can vouch for that. People used to always try to recruit me because of my progress and how hard of a worker I was. But I had to do it on my own.
That’s why I do what I do. It’s because of my background – and the fact that I know that people need the help that I needed. This is why I’m in this industry.
When it comes to A Second U Foundation, I know these men and women need the help. They need to be taught a skill. They need a trade that they can come home with, have somebody guide them, and provide them with an opportunity so they can create careers for themselves that pay really well so they can take care of themselves and their families.
Without any kind of top education – what do you do? You end up having to settle for whatever kind of employment you can find. This is a passion of mine and is something I will never, ever give up on. Even when I’m no longer here, A Second U will continue.
This Program Changes Lives
These guys have some really amazing stories. There’s a guy named Craig Sweat who’s down in the Chelsea area. He started his own company called Sweat-Fit. Then there’s Kenneth Atkins. He’s killing it in New Jersey in real estate now. He was an amazing trainer and started his own company. These are people that came to my program and started in fitness. Another guy named Alonzo came through my program and was a hit – a huge trainer at the New York Health and Racquet Club. Now he owns his own real estate office Uptown in Riverdale.
I have guys that came through my program, like Ricky Burton. He started his own company called Naturally Cut. They have contracts now with places like Harry Winston Jewelers.
The list goes on. I have a ton of men that we’ve trained and provided employment for that have really taken it to the next level in no time.
I’m really proud to be a part of the process.
A Second U Foundation: Build A Better U
Men and women spend 6 weeks in the program. Aside from employment workshops, we also receive referrals from the federal and state probation offices and federal halfway houses.
How the program works:
- Week 1: Physical conditioning:
- Practice correct posture and form
- Resistance Training
- Functional Training
- Circuit training
- Plyometric training
- Week 1: Physical conditioning:
- Week 2: Tutorials:
- Staff testimonials and motivational speeches
- Lessons on health club equipment
- Gym Edict: dress code, grooming, and professional hygiene
- Week 2: Tutorials:
- Week 3 Mindset training:
- Client Retention
- Principles of Training
- Maintaining Positive Energy
- Week 4: Client Relations:
- Creating Dialogue around progression
- Anticipating Client Needs
- Read, Listen, and Learn
- Week 5: Shadowing Personal Trainers (Hands-On Training):
- Perform Fitness Evaluations
- Prospecting Potential Clients
- Integrated Stretching Techniques
- Biometric Screening
- Week 6: Book assessments
- Recap on lessons from previous weeks
- Personal Trainer Performance Progression and Pay Policy
- Final Exams
We take our program very seriously and expect everyone to take it seriously. I don’t hold them to any standards I don’t personally have for myself. You have to work hard to be successful. As a result, only the strongest, most dedicated, and most committed people make it through to the end.
I want to make sure I mention the following coaches because they do a lot of the recruitment and training. They’re a huge part of this program:
Director of Recruitment
Hans St. Phard
Find Out More
Find out more about A Second U Foundation and Unibody Fitness NYC at the links below:
A Second U Foundation: Website | | Instagram @aSecondU1