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DENVER (KDVR) — CrossFit is a super popular fitness program and competition that is now helping inmates in Colorado’s prisons.

This ground-breaking program was started in 2017 by an inmate and a Denver Police sergeant.

Sgt. Aaron Brill founded the Redemption Road Fitness Foundation with a friend’s son, who was in prison in Limon.

“Knee-jerk reaction is same one that most of society has: ‘We don’t want bigger, stronger, faster criminals. That seems like a bad idea.’ And it does seem like a bad idea if that’s all they’re going to be,” Brill said. “But I knew CrossFit to do a bunch more than that. It’s the community, it’s the self-discipline, it’s accountability.”

As a CrossFit coach, he agreed to meet with Brandin Kreuzer, who is serving 50 years for a violent crime spree. Kreuzer is turning his life around and believes CrossFit is an important piece of that change.

“We have this vision of prison,” Kreuzer said. “Instead of being a place where somebody sits in a corner and learns how to make meth better, they can come here and say, ‘Man, I’m going to get my life on track.’ That’s what this program does. That is our mission.”

The inmates now run the program, leading workouts with dozens of inmates and recruiting new coaches from inside prison walls.

It has expanded to five Colorado prisons.

“At this stage of the game, I just support them logistically. I give them some mentorship and we talk about some things, but they run the program,” Brill said. “So these guys are getting to be responsible and getting accountability and getting a chance to prove themselves, which they don’t get on the inside.”

They held their first fundraiser inside the prison two years ago, raising $6,000.

“This was the offenders’ idea. They wanted to raise money for the staff gym, because they had a better gym than the staff. They are training staff members as well,” Brill said.

Not only is this a chance to give back and help others, it is beneficial to the inmates as well.

“There’s a lot of accountability and responsibility, which these guys are kind of hungry for,” Brill said. “So many of these people in this environment, they’ve never had a chance to prove themselves. They’ve been struggling their whole lives. This is somebody giving them a chance.”

Brill said the program helps inmates learn job skills. On the outside, a CrossFit coach can start at $25 an hour.

Their second fundraiser will take place at the Denver Police Academy on July 10, with another ground-breaking event slated: “14 of the offenders are being brought out to the Denver Police Academy to partner with community members,” Brill said.

They are looking for competitors, volunteers and spectators to take part in this unique partnership that’s having an impact.

“It’s such a chance to make a difference and to live up to the oath,” Brill said.

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