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Ezekiel Elliott’s trainer is using a special motivation to make his clients better

Meet Josh Hicks: the former prisoner who’s now thriving as a personal trainer.

NFL: MAY 30 Cowboys OTA Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There just aren’t many things to do when you’re locked behind bars. Options for activity in jail, just like the meal portions, are particularly scarce, and inmates are generally presented with deviations between exercise, reading, socializing (when afforded opportunities to do so) and of course, the choice of doing nothing throughout their virtually unchanging days.

And although the aforementioned decisions for living out the course of one’s day are all viable, existence in prison really whittles down to two paths: surviving, or thriving.

Josh Hicks chose to opt for the latter.

Ezekiel Elliott’s current personal trainer was released from detention in 2015 after receiving an armed robbery charge in 2013 — the fifth arrest on his record by the age of 24. The original sentence: five years in a Dallas correctional facility after pleading guilty to the accusation.

Hicks would be prematurely released after two years though, for exhibiting good behavior throughout his tenure. Today, he’s a go-to guru for professional athletes trying to sharpen their skills and vivify their bodies.

A convict-turned-coach, Hicks’ hard-nosed instruction, and insatiable hunger for improvement within his client carousel is the same drive that propelled him to turn his own life around once the cold cell doors closed behind him.

“You can’t just be in [prison] living day-for-day,” Hicks commented on his mentality during the sentence.

“You have to be in there putting together a plan for when you get out.”

Hicks knew that said plan would involve football (he was a former D-1 player at Purdue, and was actually trained by former Cowboy Deion Sanders during his sophomore year in high school), but just didn’t know exactly what that would like.

And his love for fitness (coupled with an age that just placed him outside of preferential pro playing candidacy) opened up a door in the PT field he had never thought possible in his earlier stages.

“Going to prison was really like a blessing in disguise, because if I didn’t go, I would probably be doing the same thing I was doing. I probably wouldn’t be here. Because, when I tell you it got bad, it got bad.”

Once he was granted freedom, he hit the ground running, quickly building an array of top-billed clients through social media.

His rigorous approach towards personal improvement translates seamlessly to those he instructs. That list includes: Melvin Gordon, Trevon Diggs, Tony Pollard and Super Bowl champion Leonard Fournette — who referred Hicks to Zeke.

The two have been working together for a short time now, but under Hicks’ tutelage this offseason, Elliott is noticeably “quicker, elusive and more fluid” according to the trainer.

And according to Dak Prescott, Zeke is in the “best shape of his life.” Zeke credits an improved diet, health regiment, and of course Hicks with his transformation.

Hicks meanwhile, has Elliott’s rejuvenation as a playmaking halfback high on his list of motivating factors, as the pair sharpen each other daily. But it’s hard to imagine a greater driving force in Hicks’ own heart, than the desire to create a life far better than the one he previously lived.

And right now, he’s doing a heck of a job at that.