Lion’s Pride Fitness Unveils Plans to Support Ex-Convicts After Their Release
Aaron Brill, the now-former President of Redemption Road Fitness Foundation, announced a new venture that focuses on helping ex-convicts reintegrate into society through the CrossFit community. This new company, Lion’s Pride Fitness, will work directly with these individuals once they leave the prison system in Colorado and other areas.
One big thing: Brill is not the only board member to leave Redemption Road Fitness Foundation to form Lion’s Pride Fitness. Amy Druck, Peter Druck, Jessica Halliday, and Tim Halliday will all join the new venture, along with Brill’s wife Jessica.
- Brill: “Redemption Road and that inside of prison thing is great. … If that’s all we do, and then people get released back into society with no support of this program, then they’re going to just go back. You know, we’re social animals. We will seek out some kind of community. And if we don’t have a new one, we’ll go back to the one that we left when we went to prison.”
- “So we’re still going to work in the prison population. We’re not going to do it in Colorado, because Redemption Road is here in Colorado and we don’t want to compete with them. We have a slightly different model that we think can go maybe more quickly, more of an open source kind of CrossFit affiliate model.”
The reason for the mission: As a police officer for 24 years, Brill has extensive experience working with people that have been in the prison system. He has seen how introducing the community aspect of CrossFit to those incarcerated has helped break barriers between different gangs, as well between criminals and law enforcement.
- “It’s not in my best interest to have bigger, faster, stronger criminals,” Brill said. “But it is in my best interest to have healthy, well rounded individuals that want to reintegrate into society.”
- “Okay, yes, I protected society, I made the arrest, the victims feel better. But I didn’t do that to punish that person. That’s not my job. I want them to come out better. My hope is they’ll come out better.”
A home base: Brill has the goal of building a hub that can connect CrossFit communities with people trying to reintegrate across the country. For now, Lion’s Pride Fitness plans to start with The Phoenix, a nonprofit in Denver. Classes will take place at this CrossFit Community Center while Denver Dream Center helps provide transportation.
- “Ours isn’t a faith based program. I’m a person of faith, but we’re not faith based. Denver Dream Center, the pastor there — a local, just really amazing pastor — has a big heart for reintegration.”
- “The Denver Dream Center, they have a van and they drive their people to their appointments and stuff. They’ll probably be our test pool.”
Important support: A key part of Redemption Road Fitness Foundation was a partnership with CrossFit Home Office. Brill hopes that this trend continues with Lion’s Pride Fitness. Though there are still some important details to work out.
First off, he wants to ensure that there are no conflicts regarding Redemption Road Fitness Foundation. He helped build the organization, and he wants it to succeed.
- “CrossFit is doing an amazing job of tying affiliates together and the playbook and stuff. But it’s a different space to do that for jail, the justice system-involved population. All of those need a tweak.”
- “Coaching somebody that’s on a court sentencing diversion or in a prison or post release takes another skill set. Running those programs takes another skill set. So the concepts of the Playbook and roundtables and stuff, I’m definitely tying into those. But we need to adjust those. So I hope to be able to continue talking to Eric [Roza] and [GM of affiliates] Gary Gaines.”
The bottom line: Once the president of Redemption Road Fitness Foundation, Brill is focusing on a different part of the process. He and his co-founders will strive to help those that are out of prison as they try to reintegrate back into society and build a successful life.