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Dontrell Britton Turned His Five-Year Prison Sentence Into a Fitness Empire

Dontrell Britton’s story involves a rough upbringing in Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C..

Dontrell Britton trains a client. Photo courtesy of Dontrell Britton

Dontrell Britton’s story involves a rough upbringing in Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.. Britton’s father was murdered when he was 16 years-old and he sold narcotics to support his family. Despite these harsh upbringings, Britton has since founded his own celebrity fitness business and food truck business.

Britton is a very successful trainer based in Washington, D.C., and has built a reputable clientele. He has trained celebrities such as Shy Glizzy and Pusha T. He described training Pusha T as one the greatest moments in his career. 

“I see a dude walk in and he looks like Pusha T, so I hear a guy looking for me and I look and it’s Pusha T. It was crazy, but I kept my cool. It was my big break,” he says, “It was one of my greatest times of my trainer life.”

The path to ‘Trell The Trainer’ took time and patience. He began filming fitness videos in the laundromat of his mother’s apartment building. He has built a following of over 30,000 followers on Instagram. 

Britton has always been a man of determination, according to his mother, Coneice Britton. “If he likes it, he’ll put his mind to it,” she said. “It is very motivating, I am a very proud mom to see my son focus on something he’s passionate about.”

“All family and friends were supportive of me, paying me $25 bucks a session, and building my portfolio,” Britton said. 

One childhood friend in particular, Marcus Goodwin, has worked together with Britton while witnessing his growth.

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 “I definitely see Trell’s story as inspirational and a great example for young people to understand that you can be successful,” Goodwin said. “I’m inspired everyday to see what Trell’s accomplishing in spite of the circumstances we came up in.” 

Britton’s path to success was laden with many hardships. He laid out a cautionary tale of his life as a way to discourage troubled youth from having similar childhood experiences. Britton said, “I will tell this story as many times as I need to save one life.”

He pointed to his propensity for grand theft auto, destruction of property, carrying unlicensed firearms all of which all led to him serving juvenile time from ages 14 to 18. By age 19, he was indicted on a 33-person drug conspiracy case and served a five year sentence in prison.

“It was 4 in the morning and they bust into the house, boom! And I hear loud banging at the door, boom! So I heard the first boom and think it’s the local jack boys trying to break into my house and try to rob me, that’s my initial thought. I get up and I’m going to closet and I’m panicking, and then I just hear ‘FBI!’ and went back to the couch and just laid there,” Britton said.  

Britton recalls the first moments being in prison and using exercise as a way to cope with what was going on in his life. 

“In prison, I started to exercise. I never imagined or wanted to be a trainer of any sort, but what people do not know is that when the police raided my house, my mom was arrested and that was the hardest part for me, and that’s why I initially started to work out,” he said. 

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Britton’s workout routines became noticeable to other inmates serving time with him. His outcomes were praised, and soon Britton was having about 20 to 30 inmates working out with him everyday. It was not until one older inmate came up to him and encouraged him to be a fitness trainer. 

Britton was paroled in 2015, and made continuous efforts to fuel his new found passion — fitness training. He studied profusely for two months after a bartending job and obtained his certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine in the same year. 

He is now a very active member in his community, and cultivated a program,The Glizzys Crew Youth Program, hiring at-risk youth. The program emphasizes community-building activities, leadership opportunities and being a part of a financial literacy program.

What would Britton’s word of advice be to troubled youth? 

“I would really just get in tune with myself and understand that [street] lifestyle is hyped up,” he said. “From a personal standpoint, I believe that older men should provide more incentives and programs and outlets for these youth.” 

Copy edited by Jasper Smith

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