Cell Workout is a specialist guide to keeping fit and exercising whilst in prison - written by someone who understands exactly how important this is. We thought you might like to hear more about the backstory of this important resource, which is available to those we support overseas on request.

 In 2011, LJ Flanders was remanded to Pentonville prison after being involved in a fight. Looking for ways to motivate himself whilst waiting for his trial, he began performing basic exercises in his cell as a way to get into shape and alleviate the boredom.

I wasn’t a gym goer before I went to prison. I’d say I was ‘football fit’ really, playing a couple of times a week. I was 21 when I went inside. It was daunting and I knew I didn’t want to come back.

Like many people in prison, keeping fit became hugely important to LJ during his sentence. At times being confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, his focus on fitness kept him going. All too soon, he needed more than just repeating the standard press ups and sit ups.

There are only so many standard press-ups or sit-ups a person can do in a room that’s eight feet by six feet without getting bored or hitting a plateau.

At that time he only knew the basics of training, using weights and cardio. But this was about to change. Determined to not let his time go to waste, the turning point came when LJ enrolled on a personal training course whilst in HMP Pentonville. This not only gave him the fundamental understanding of how to construct the varied workout routines that he craved, it also offered a higher chance of employment following his release.

Once qualified, LJ got a job in the prison gym and was often being asked if he could write personalised fitness regimes that could be performed in a cell. Without realising it, LJ had already begun to improve the daily lives of other inmates, their physical fitness, and mental wellbeing. Helping inmates gave LJ a sense of purpose and it became his mission to transform the dynamics of prison fitness and bring about positive change in the lives of people in prison. After his release, LJ started to put together the material for a book. With assistance from the Prince’s Trust (for whom he also became a Young Ambassador), the Cell Workout book was published. As well as a career in personal training, LJ has also started to lead fitness workshops in prisons across the UK.

Cell Workout is a bodyweight training guide devised from a prison cell but accessible to anyone who wants to get fit in a small space using no specialist equipment.

Using your own body weight, Cell Workout guides you through understanding how to make bodyweight training work for you, helping you to achieve any personal training goal or maintain a healthy physical condition. With workouts for those of varying ability and fitness, the step-by[1]step exercise instructions and accompanying photographs for LJ's 10 Week Cell Workout are easy to follow and tailor to you, improving all aspects of your physical fitness.

Having a physical outlet can be hugely beneficial, as physical health often declines at a faster rate for those serving a sentence due to a combination of poor conditions and insufficient diet. An overseas sentence also comes with a huge emotional burden, so regular exercise can be an excellent way to manage mental health. However, those we support are often living in cramped conditions with limited space, so it can be hard to know where to begin. This is why access to specialist resources, like Cell Workout, is so important. Prisoners Abroad has purchased several copies of Cell Workout to send to people who request it in prison around the world.

Being offered a lifeline can change everything. 

Prisoners Abroad translates human rights law into practical life-saving actions by providing prisoners access to vitamins and essential food, emergency medical care, freepost envelopes to keep in touch with home and books and magazines to help sustain mental health.

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