Tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Gene, I’m 24 years old, and I was born in South Philadelphia. I’m ambitious, a go-getter. I fell victim to the system at a very young age, and it held me back. At that age, you don’t realize all the talents you have, so I went to the streets. I was sent to juvie at a young age. Then I came home… and I got locked up again. Then I came home again… and then got locked up again. Every experience helped me in ways people don’t even understand. When I was incarcerated, I made a plan of what I was going to do when I got out. Then, when I got out, I followed through. The day after I was released, I took the test and got my driver’s license. Then I went to the boxing gym. And that was it, I didn’t try and talk to anyone. I started fixing my mistakes and getting my head on the right track. I was learning the right things to do, finding the right environment, and surrounding myself with the right people. My street worker suggested I apply for PowerCorpsPHL.
I was in Cohort 5 on Mr. Drew’s Black Ops crew with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.
What are you up to now?
Now I work for Smith Memorial Playground. It’s a playhouse mansion for kids and toddlers. I do grounds and building maintenance. It’s more than just taking out the trash. Yesterday, I was dealing with plants, using the skills I learned in PowerCorpsPHL. My supervisor is Jim Neal. I feel like he gave me a chance by hiring me– because of my criminal background. He’s a great guy; he’s not always on your back, like you’re incarcerated or something. He gives me a list of things that need to be done and I know what to do. I can take a break when I need to, it’s not overwhelming on my body. That kind of supervision makes me want to work more.
When I get off work, I go to the gym. Without the gym, I would be incarcerated right now. I would have too much free time and gone back to the streets. Then you start doing too much. If I don’t work out, I get depressed. I started Skys the Limit Fitness three years ago, but I officially bought the name about two months ago. At first it was something I was doing because I was working out and helping my friends work out. Then, I started a fitness page on Instagram and people started seeing the type of work I’m doing. People started asking for me to help them lose weight. For a while, I was just doing it for the fun of it and I wasn’t getting paid. I was still boxing at the time, so I was more focused on that.
I train people at their gym right now and I’m one of the lowest priced personal trainers. I’m not chasing people’s pockets for fitness. Yes, pay for my time, but I’m not worried about getting money. I’m not trying to break anyone’s pockets for a couple sessions. I like to motivate my clients in different ways. I give Skys The Limit Fitness shirt to dedicated members and I like to work out with my clients for motivation. Working out and training people is all about their mentality. For the people who are out of shape but want to get in shape: I can’t do the sit-ups for you, I’m here to motivate you. I create workouts catered to an individual’s level and I can design a custom meal plan for people. It takes time and lots of communication with the person and their dietary restrictions. I’m taking classes right now to pass my National Academy of Sports Medicine Personal Trainer Certification — the top certification to be a personal trainer (it specializes in nutrition too). When I die, I want people to remember Skys The Limit. Or remember me. Do some sit-ups, run a mile, get in shape for me. I’m not going to live forever, but this name will.
I study workouts, the human body, and nutrition. There’s a difference between knowing how to work out and knowing how that workout affects your body. I’m not into partying anymore; I’d rather study or get something done. I love to travel but right now I’m focused on building my brand. My nephews workout with me and both my older brothers.
My freedom; I know not to do a lot of stupid stuff because what has happened in the past. My mom motivates me not to lose my freedom; she needs me, I need her too. Something else that motivates me is that I know one day we’re all going to die; I’ve seen so much and lost friends. I don’t want to just sit around and wait. If I had the mentality I have now when I was 16, I would be a millionaire. Another thing that motivates me is knowing that I got people who genuinely care about me. I feel like I disappointed people from age 17-22; I’m not trying to disappoint people anymore.
PowerCorpsPHL helped me in tons of aspects. I was close to quitting; I used to have a problem where I’d quit stuff. After a while I didn’t want to be out there in the woods. My man was in Cohort 4, he motivated me stick with it. There are fun days and not fun days; if you can make it through the not fun days–it’s worth it. PowerCorpsPHL takes you out of your element; it makes you more social and builds your communication skills. It’s a great support system and team. You make great connections both in the corps and with other organizations. A Cohort 5 member who is into videography is going to help me film a fitness video. It’s mutually beneficial because it promotes both our businesses.
PowerCorpsPHL strengthened my leadership skills and sharpened my tools up. It gave me more knowledge. The type of work was new to me, I wasn’t used to doing that land management. But I’m using the skills I earned at my new job. I didn’t know I was capable of being in the woods, working in nature like that. I knew my street side of me could do anything, but when you’re volunteering in the middle of the woods–who the heck is going to see that?? But then I realized it wasn’t about who could see it, it was the impact it has on the community. I learned time management is the key to your success–I would like to thank Drew for that. My crew leader and I didn’t always get along, we would go at it. But the next day it was all love. He was always on my top about lateness and time management. I knew what he was doing and why, but when he was on my back I couldn’t take it. So then I started coming on time. He was doing it to straighten up my time management skills. Now, I’m always early to work and my appointment with my clients. PowerCorpsPHL will stick with me forever.
Now that you’re an alumni, what sort of involvement would you like to have with PowerCorpsPHL?
I plan on going to all the events. Also, I’d like to speak to up and coming PowerCorpsPHL members about my experience to motivate them.
What do you miss about PowerCorpsPHL? What don’t you miss?
I miss Fridays at the School District. They were the best days because we weren’t in the woods and everyone was together. I normally liked the trainings and it was nice to have access to the computers.
I don’t miss getting fined for being late.
The first thing I want is to have my own gym, my own location. I want everyone to come to my gym to workout. I’m working on my business model and laying the foundation right now. The second thing I want to do is talk to the youth about the struggles they face growing up and how to make the right decisions. I’ve been through a lot of bad situations they can relate to. Now that I’ve got my head on straight, I’m A-1. I can relate to them too; when you’re young, you’re interested in chasing money. I want to help them realize if you’re focused on what you’re passionate about, the money will chase you. I’m not worried about money so much right now, I want people to know my name.
The list is too long of the people who have my back: from PowerCorpsPHL, my family, and PAAN.