A Geek in Prison — Part 10 — The Prison Gym

A Geek in Prison is Bitcoin Pioneer Charlie Shrem’s account of his experience going from being a force for increasing adoption of Bitcoin before the world had heard of cryptocurrency to a 15-month stint in federal prison for selling it to the wrong people. In his excitement to spread the word about Bitcoin, Charlie fell afoul of the law and acknowledges that he committed the crime. He has since gone on to found Crypto.IQ, an educational and investment firm.

This is Part 10 in a series about my life as a Geek in Prison. All names have been changed to protect inmates’ privacy. Everything I write is hypothetical and for educational purposes only.

The gym is a scary place.

Sounds dumb, I know. For 2 months, I stayed as far away from the gym as possible. I was overweight and had a huge beer belly.

The first week in prison, I approached someone who claimed to be a trainer. He said he’d train me for 20 MAKS a month, so I tried it out. He said we would train every day and take a 2 day break. I thought this was somewhat excessive, but I didn’t complain.

We went to the gym that day, and it was a terrible experience. He was angry, and he didn’t explain why we were doing any of the exercises. I felt my form was bad, and we weren’t getting into the flow, so I quit.

It took another few weeks before I would even try again.

A few friends were going walking, so I decided to walk with them. It was easy. Walk a few miles every day, and it would be a good routine. Once I got into that habit, I started eating better as well.

This is the key to losing weight: eat fewer calories than you burn, and run a deficit. That’s it.

For example, if you burn 2,500 calories a day, try to eat 1,500–2,000.

Losing weight is 80% what you eat and 20% working out.

So why work out? A few reasons:

Working out will put you in a healthy state of mind. You will eat less crap because you invest so much energy in working out.

The more active you become, the faster your metabolism gets, and the more you burn. It’s NOT how much you burn during a week; it’s how much your body burns all day.

I had 2 goals: lose my belly and work on my upper body.

Losing my belly was about the eating. If I ate well and stayed active I would lose weight. So I joined a Frisbee and Kickball league. In fact, I became MVP of Kickball!

The key is getting into a routine. So I started slow. I played sports twice a week, took walks, and ate better. I started working on my own recipes.

The most carbs you eat during the day are either at breakfast or after your workout. I was limited on ingredients, so after my workout, I would always have chocolate milk. This gave me a liquid carb and protein mix that is really good for muscle building.

I would also make a simple rice and mackerel stew by taking 1/2 cup of rice in a bowl, putting the soybean oil from the mackerel pack in it, water, mackerel, and some jalapeños. I would also add some Mrs. Dash for flavor.

After awhile, I was ready to take on the gym, so I could start working on my upper body and turn that fat into muscle.

The gym was actually not that scary, and people were generally very cool. There were guys in there who would go play pool and ping pong. There were all shapes and sizes.

I talked with a lot of people, and I settled on the simplest routine that I follow up until today, with deviations: Calisthenics.

I liked the idea of Calisthenics because they require no machines. You can do them in your own home, on the street, grass, anywhere. They are really easy.

So let’s start with the simple workout of Pull Ups / Chin Ups / Dips / Pushups / in a cycle of three. That’s it. Do that for 30 minutes a day for 3 days and take a break on the 4th. On day 5, start again.

Above is my first three days of working out. I could barely do anything!

Over the next few weeks, I stuck with it and continued my workout routine. After that, I started altering my routines.

A fun thing to do at the end of a workout is a dead stop pushup. Basically, you time yourself for 1 minute where instead of doing straight pushups, you do 1 and then stop, picking up your hands. Repeat. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. My record was 35 dead stop pushups in 1 minute.

Every week or so, it’s fun to change it up, so the following are some good workouts that were developed by some inmates:

Rich’s Workout

15 Pushups
15 Dips
3 rounds.
Phils Workout
10 Pullups
20 Pushups
30 Sit Ups
40 Body Squats
5 Rounds

Charlies Workout

Do this many reps: 25 / 21 / 18 / 15 / 12 / 9 / 6 / 3 of each exercise listed:
Pullups
GHD
Chinups
Med Ball Sit ups
Pushups
Frankenstein
Situps
K2 Workout
30 Burpees
30 Squats
30 Jumping Jacks
30 Lunges
30 Crunches
You can adjust the numbers on all of these workouts; however, make sure you do it proportionally.
After 1 year, I lost 40 lbs and gained a fantastic muscle/fat ratio.