Coss Marte was released from prison in March 2013 after serving time for dealing drugs. Four years later, he's the proud owner of ConBody, a trendy "prison-style boot camp," and has trained the likes of "Avatar's" Stephen Lang and "Seinfeld's" Larry David.
Marte tells CNBC Make It that he has been able to create one of the most in-demand fitness studios by doing this: constantly pitching himself.
Marte says he was making over $2 million selling drugs from age 19 to 23 when he was arrested. While in prison, doctors told him he was overweight and that his cholesterol was so bad he only had five years to live. Determined to not die in the cell, Marte started working out and lost 70 pounds in six months.
The businessman, now 31, says his first paying customer after his release was his mother. Every day he would head to a public park at 5:30 a.m. to exercise. From there, he began training people who he came across in the park. He would hand out business cards to passerby on the street and approach girls in yoga pants to offer his training services.
"I never stopped pitching myself," Marte tells CNBC Make It. "I'd tell my story 20, 30 times a day. I'd go on the train and talk about what I do and act a fool. Whatever it took."
As his client list started to expand, Marte began renting out rooms and by 2014 his classes had begun to outgrow the spaces he was renting.