Muscular Development: “A Typical Day in Prison Camp,” by PJ Braun



The Following Article was originally published in Muscular Development Magazine in February 2023. It is the fifth in a series of articles written while PJ Braun was in prison. You can find previous and future articles in this series here. At the end of this article, you will find an addendum not included in the original publication where PJ reflects on the content of this article.

In my first article since turning myself in, I told you guys about my journey to prison camp. Now that I have been at my final destination for six months now, I’d like to give you an update on what a typical day at the camp entails.

I wake up at 5:00am, drink 3 teaspoons of Folgers instant coffee, and take baby aspirin. I also drink 32 ounces of water and wait for them to finish the 5:00 a.m. count so I can go outside and train. The amount of volume I can do on any given day hinges on how quickly the count is cleared. Sometimes they’re finished with the count as early as 5:30, but sometimes it takes as long as 5:50. 

Just like in my early days I train one body part per workout. My workouts are done outside, but I can go under a gazebo if it’s raining. This has been quite unique, to say the least, because there have been a couple of days where the temperature dropped below 30, a far cry from your typical mild, air-conditioned gyms.

I have not missed one workout since I got here on May 23rd. Many of the guys comment on my determination, but I am quick to remind them that this was my life for nearly 30 years and it’s all I really have keeping me happy while I am away from Marissa, my family, and the free world. It’s very therapeutic for me. I race inside around 6:45 and call Marissa to say “good morning,” then I get showered, dressed and have my cube ready for inspection by 7:30 at the absolute latest.

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I am in the Residential Drug and Alcohol Program (RDAP). This is a behavioral program that is a privilege to qualify for but it’s also very stressful. It’s a Modified Therapeutic Community and in my opinion, if you can’t make it through this you won’t make it in the free world, but If you really apply yourself you are going to have some serious tools for success. I think I have become a much better listener, but I still have a lot of struggles; I am impulsive, I struggle with Demand Thinking, and often lack objectivity. I think focusing on honing my weaknesses has made me a better person. My family says they see a lot of change in me already.

We are in our program from 7:45-10:45, then we break for lunch. I usually only go to lunch Tuesday through Thursday, but I like to go on the weekends because they serve brunch; A welcome change of pace. After lunch I check my emails and then I start my job. I work as an orderly in the TV room in my wing. I am basically a janitor, and this room gets a lot of traffic, so it is always in need of a lot of work: from mopping to dusting, to scrubbing the microwave and cleaning the phones and computers. I usually finish around 1:00 pm and then  focus on treatment work or write letters till 2:00 pm. 

At 2:00 pm I change into workout grays and head outside to walk for an hour with my buddy Mr. Boyle, aka Boston, who is my closest friend in RDAP. He is a 68-year-old businessman who has had much success in life, but what I love about him the most is the kind of family man he is. Married for 40 years with kids and grandkids who I have met at visitation, he is someone I look up to a lot. We have developed a kind of adoptive father-son relationship, which has been very special for me. I like to think the feeling is mutual. We look out for each other and keep each other sane and smiling!

I come inside at 3:00 pm and make a meal, then I shower and get ready for the 4:00 pm standing count. You must be standing next to your cube at 4:00 pm and 10:00 pm for the counts or you can receive an incident report and that can affect your remaining sentence.. Once the 4:00 pm count is clear they serve dinner. During this time, many of the guys relax or go outside to play sports, dominos, chess, card games etc. I prefer to stay in my cube and read. I have read about 80 books so far and it’s been wonderful. I had forgotten how much I loved reading. I have read a lot of fiction. I really love Stephen King, but I have read some outstanding nonfiction as well. Of everything I have gone through, my two favorites would be Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung.

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Being off testosterone has been rough, but I expected as much. I went from the ideal bodybuilding scenario, especially for anyone over 40: HRT testosterone, 2 units of GH daily, 1mg of Arimidex every three days, the best supplements from Blackstone Labs, weekly IV drips of vitamins and glutathione, weekly massage therapy, whatever food I wanted, cryotherapy, the list goes on. I knew I had it good out there and I never took it for granted, but now, as I write this at 269 pounds and way softer than I have been in a long time and way more sore than I have been in years, I really miss it. My back and hips are a mess and. I am often exhausted by 5:00 pm, which never happened in the free world. I am definitely going to do an article on which supplements I miss the most and why.

All that being said, I train really damn hard every day and, although I have been taking a lot of Advil (I try to not take more than 800 mg a day and not every day), I am doing pretty good. I feel strong, mobile, and can’t wait to get back to the gym when I come home. My training regimen has awoken a demon.

My day ends the same seven days a week. At 9:30 a group of about 15-20 guys from all different walks of life get together for what we call “Conversations with a Higher Power.” In short, It’s a prayer group. One man reads followed by another saying a prayer for the group. We pray for our families and loved ones, we ask God to look after the staff and our counselors, and to keep guiding us and giving us strength. We thank Him for the air in our lungs and we finish with “Our Father” and then something truly unique happens: We all hug each other. 

It started with fist bumps and progressed more and more, through our faith in God, to bear hugs, which I have heard, from a lot of the guys who have come from higher-level institutions, is truly a rare sight. No one thinks it’s weird or uncomfortable. We just say God bless you and thank you and carry on. I never would have expected the camaraderie and fellowship, but the Lord works in mysterious ways and there is an important message in all this. 

Until next time, I love you all. Peace out, bye!

Instagram @pjbraunfitness

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Editor’s Note (May 2024): Prior to posting this article, PJ Braun was requested for comment and asked to reflect on the content of this article. This was his response. It has been edited for clarity.

Although I can talk about a ton from this article I want to focus on the RDAP, which was absolutely awful to go through (haha). I was treated, in my opinion, in a very hostile way by a staff member who pegged me as “a power-oriented bully” just from the way I looked. I was constantly being yelled at and given extra assignments until finally the DR and Director of the program witnessed it first hand and put an end to it in front of everyone. 

The crazy thing is that I was super polite and gentle because I knew being a “Huge White boy” in a predominately Black setting was working against me. Many people broke in that program but they couldn’t break me and in the end I feel that being in that program was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I feel like I have tools I never would have gotten anywhere else and my way of thinking has completely changed. I feel like I have a cheat code for life.