Whenever I choose a blog post topic, it’s usually based on the questions we receive from our readers. But sometimes, I get inspired by looking at Google search trends to see the most frequently asked questions about prisons.
Today’s blog post is Google’s answer to these questions. I chose this topic because it struck me how people in the free world are influenced by media and popular culture. I also asked a friend of mine who is still inside to contribute to this article because she became a certified fitness trainer while in prison.
So, let’s get straight to today’s blog post: why are prisoners so strong?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- Not everyone gets ripped in prison
- Weight loss and fitness in prison can help inmates recover
Not everyone gets ripped in prison
As a former prisoner who has served four years in prison, I am very surprised by this question. It showed me how much pop culture can influence people. A common trope in movies and TV is that prison inmates are always working out and getting ripped while serving time, but the truth is, that doesn’t always happen.
In fact, in my experience, very few people exercise and become “muscled” in prison.
Everyone has a different experience in prison. What a prisoner experiences while in custody depends on the facility, level of security and location.
In my experience, during the four years I was incarcerated, I gained nearly 100 pounds. I actually didn’t gain any weight the first year because I was going to aerobics classes a lot, my job allowed me to be on my feet six to eight hours a day, and I was very careful about what I ate.
However, once I realized that my appeal was going to take longer than I thought, I lost hope. This affected my spirit so badly that I stopped my exercise routine. Every day I put on the headset and watch TV for hours on my bunk.
Depression and lack of exercise—combined with a diet of only packaged, processed foods high in carbs—caused me to gain massive amounts of weight. When I walked out the prison gates, I was far from muscular.
Working out in prisons could help inmates recover
Although I gained weight and got flaccid during my time in prison, some inmates did have the opposite experience. My friend Mistie Vance served ten years in prison at WERDCC in Missouri. This is what she told me when I asked her why the prisoners were so muscular.
“As an AFAA certified aerobics instructor and a woman who has spent the past decade in correctional facilities, I love this question! Prisoners get muscular for the same reason any physically fit person gets muscular – a lot of hard work and determination! Prisoners Luckier than the average citizen because we have plenty of time and free access to gym equipment.
That’s not to say everyone locked up will come out with a dead body. I’ve seen prisoners come in 50-100 pounds heavier than they came in. It all depends on the decisions one chooses to make. Some choose to lie down and eat, take enough medicine to pass the time, or basically do nothing to improve their incarceration as a person. It’s truly a tragedy considering all the opportunities we’ve been given as prisoners in this country.
For many, however, prison is an opportunity to change and become productive members of society. So many of us get so caught up in self-destructive behavioral patterns that we can’t find our way out on our own. Prison is an opportunity to heal old wounds, to understand who we are as individuals, and to improve our physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Personally, my incarceration has given me the opportunity to be in a safe environment away from the destructive relationships and situations that hindered my recovery process. My first concern is dealing with my spiritual healing and relationship to the higher powers from which all other healing takes place.
While in the county jail, I conducted hundreds of bible studies, attended all available services and read many spiritual books. After my imprisonment, I spent two and a half years studying and teaching in a special program offered by the institution.
Once I had a solid spiritual foundation, I started giving back to the community by teaching the Impact of Crime on Victims (ICVC) class and exercising to improve my physical health. The facility I’m at offers daily cardio classes and a wide variety of exercise equipment, so I have a lot of advantages in my quest for better physical fitness. Within a year, I became a certified trainer and started teaching various cardio classes to others in the prison with similar goals.
Unlike people on the street who have to pay gym memberships and find time to exercise, prisoners don’t have to worry about these things. We can use gyms, exercise equipment, and literature to help us achieve our fitness goals. The only thing that prison can’t give people is the desire and motivation to do better, to do better. That has to come from the individual himself.
Like anything in life, what you are willing to put into something will determine what you will get out of it. If you want an amazing body, you can have it – you just have to have the determination to do whatever it takes to make your dream come true.
Anything worth having in life is worth working for. Do your best and live your best life. Today, tomorrow and every day for the rest of your life. “
Do you think you’ll lose or gain weight in prison? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: Inmate interview with Mistie Vance, WERDCC