Dallas Man Transitions from Inmate to Personal Trainer

When most teenagers were getting their first jobs at neighborhood grocery stores and fast food restaurants – Jecoby...

Posted: Jul 4, 2018 9:30 AM
Updated: Jul 4, 2018 9:30 AM

When most teenagers were getting their first jobs at neighborhood grocery stores and fast food restaurants – Jecoby Lewis was preparing bodies at Lomax Funeral Home. His godfather Oliver Lomax gave him the job as a mortician and he worked that job faithfully from the age of 12 to 18.

It's safe to say Lewis has always marched to the beat of his own drum.

Perhaps growing up too fast and in an even faster environment led to many decisions that Lewis wishes he could revisit. He was supposed to graduate from high school in May of 2003. Instead, Lewis found himself in a Lew Sterrett jail cell. He would spend over a year in the county jail before being transferred to a state penitentiary, also known as the 'Belly of the Beast'.

For 13 years and nine months, Lewis was inmate 1342331.

Because he didn't technically complete his senior year at Lincoln High School, Lewis was never awarded his diploma. He did, however, pursue and attain his GED.

When one is incarcerated, he will attempt just about any feat to occupy his mind and pass the time. For Lewis, working out became a means for survival. He would spend countless hours lifting, defining his abs and sculpting his body. Because inmates don't have money at their disposal, they often trade goods or commodities of some sort. Whenever others took notice of his workout routines, they would trade chips and noodles for his training services.

Eventually even the guards would request his services, and soon Lewis found himself creating meal plans and workout routines in his cell.

It wasn't long before a fellow inmate named Lawrence gave Lewis the nickname "Hardbody." The name stuck. "Hardbody" would echo throughout the institution, followed by requests for training.

"While I was studying workout techniques, the other inmates were taking notice of my consistency," says Lewis. "For years I was the guy everyone wanted to train with in the prison."

Lewis sent a letter to the parole board, citing President Barack Obama's initiative to release prisoners who had served 10 years or more.

November 30, 2016 - Lewis walked away from prison with both a new body and a new mindset. Focus your mind and punish your body had become his mantra.

"I didn't know exactly how I was going to accomplish my goals once out of prison," says Lewis. "But I knew I was never going back to prison."

It was always his intention to become a trainer, but after over 13 years in prison he had no true idea of the resources that awaited him in the free world.

"When I came home in 2016 I learned about Facebook Live," laughs Lewis. "It was so simple, yet such a good resource."

From his kitchen, Lewis began posting Facebook videos each morning of in-home exercises. He would share with viewers how to use kitchen items to train, such as a bag of potatoes and water bottles.

In less than two years, Lewis has elevated his lifestyle of fitness and gained many more supporters.

Rarely does he sign on to any of his social media platforms without tagging his developing business HARDBODY 84 FITNESS. The "84" signifies the year Lewis was born.

He can be seen on Facebook and Instagram sharing his intense gym workouts. He still spends several hours working out alone, but he also has clients now. Those clients appreciate the fact that Lewis will meet them in the middle, be it at a park or at a local gym. Lewis does both personal training and in-home training.

Recently, Zumba instructor Michile Williams invited Lewis to train her class of more than 30 people. After the Zumba session concludes, Lewis takes on one of his most challenging tasks yet – training a large group.

Southside Fitness, a new gym in South Dallas has offered Lewis the opportunity to have his personal boot camps held there. Another opportunity to expand, and much to Lewis' delight – it's in his beloved South Dallas.

"When I first started I didn't even know how to charge for my services," admits Lewis. "Once I got my personal training certificate and became more confident as a trainer – it seems like people trusted me even more."

It's important to note that Lewis is not attempting to etch his way into the fitness industry with hopes of a financial payout. When first out of prison, he charged people $20 to train for an hour. He just wanted the chance to teach people how to be fit.

The 33-year-old is a father, a husband and an entrepreneur from South Dallas. "I'm from Dixon Circle," he says proudly.

His full-time job in construction requires that he bulldoze buildings and other sites each day. He sees fixtures from his childhood community disappearing and being bought out often. Lewis doesn't want everything familiar about South Dallas to one day just be a memory.

"I do have hopes of one day being a full-time trainer," says Lewis. "And I want to bring everything to South Dallas."

Lewis doesn't deny who he used to be. He feuded with opposing gang members that he now trains from time to time. He made poor decisions. He disappointed people. He knows that some people will only see the tattoos and the muscles, but he's very grateful to have such a growing and diverse clientele.

"I am who I am and I'll never deny my background," says Lewis. "I'm proud to be one of the guys capitalizing on a second chance."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto9953104
Hinds9892198
Harrison7045110
Jackson6270119
Rankin5462102
Lee501095
Madison4734106
Forrest380586
Jones354888
Lauderdale3425145
Lafayette321549
Washington3161107
Lamar289250
Oktibbeha244362
Bolivar240984
Lowndes234164
Panola219850
Neshoba2196118
Marshall213850
Leflore204790
Pontotoc199228
Monroe197377
Sunflower191655
Lincoln188765
Warren175357
Tate168051
Union166025
Copiah163040
Pike161658
Yazoo154239
Scott152129
Itawamba151534
Pearl River150867
Coahoma150143
Alcorn149628
Simpson146753
Prentiss144230
Adams141150
Grenada140645
Leake133543
Holmes129961
George124524
Tippah124530
Covington122238
Winston121624
Hancock120239
Wayne117223
Marion115846
Attala112234
Tishomingo108942
Chickasaw107132
Newton104229
Tallahatchie96827
Clay90327
Clarke89353
Jasper82022
Walthall76328
Stone76114
Calhoun73913
Montgomery73625
Carroll72115
Lawrence70814
Noxubee70617
Yalobusha70627
Smith70516
Perry66126
Tunica60619
Greene60022
Claiborne58316
Jefferson Davis56517
Amite53114
Humphreys53119
Benton49117
Quitman4897
Webster43414
Kemper42518
Wilkinson39422
Jefferson34811
Franklin3365
Choctaw3237
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1144
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 242874

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31944500
Mobile19687361
Madison13065148
Tuscaloosa12983154
Montgomery12286236
Shelby1020377
Baldwin860398
Lee773566
Morgan653850
Calhoun6240119
Marshall621355
Etowah621066
Houston523038
DeKalb481336
Cullman435442
Limestone420645
St. Clair415855
Elmore404564
Lauderdale400454
Walker3634111
Talladega349054
Jackson313423
Colbert309342
Blount288840
Autauga271642
Franklin251033
Coffee242615
Dale231854
Dallas225932
Chilton221938
Russell22143
Covington218534
Escambia197931
Chambers176550
Tallapoosa175791
Pike158314
Clarke158019
Marion137936
Winston132323
Lawrence127336
Pickens122318
Geneva12138
Marengo121024
Bibb117317
Barbour117110
Butler115341
Randolph102021
Cherokee101524
Hale96131
Clay91124
Washington90919
Fayette89816
Henry8526
Lowndes79529
Monroe78711
Cleburne77114
Macon73122
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69419
Conecuh68414
Perry6846
Lamar6718
Wilcox63218
Sumter57722
Greene42418
Choctaw42113
Coosa3414
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