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Personal trainer on a mission to stop the violence, build bridges using comedy

“To have them listen to me. It's an overwhelming feeling."
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Posted at 1:11 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 18:30:35-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Antoine Bowman urges trainees to be their best. The personal trainer thrives on building bridges while building muscles.

“It's hard work. Because I like to push my clients," said Antoine. “That feeling is a lot of joy and love in my heart helping them get to their goal.”

But that soreness isn’t always the result of lifting weights.

“Once the microphone is in my hand everything changes," said Antoine.

If you’re around Bowman you may be prone to belly laughing. The 46-year-old is also a comedian.

“There is no feeling like making someone grab their stomach in laughter or a tear come out for a good reason," said Antoine. “This is something I truly enjoy."

The Church Hill native is using comedy to put an end to anger and violence. Especially among young people.

“A lot of our youth feel lost. They feel like they’re looking for something. Whether it's within home or school," said Antoine.

The man who grew up listening to Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx knows the power of laughter from experience.

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"Comedy for me was a way to escape," said Antoine.

"All through elementary school and middle school I was bullied until I used the comedy.”

And it worked.

"Sometimes I found to be true, certain people who don’t know how to smile but once they do it makes me feel a certain joy inside. It’s a blessing," said Antoine.

He regularly visits with the youth in neighborhoods hard hit by crime.

“To have them listen to me. It's an overwhelming feeling that I can’t explain sometimes," said Antoine.

Now, he hopes to do the same with adults.

“Being truthful to someone you don’t even know can be hard. But through laughter after they see me being silly, it actually opens up that door," said Antoine.

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The self-avowed class clown is the founder of Stop the Violence Comedy Movement.

“I believe it would change the mindset of a lot of people everyone. Every creed and race to come in and have laughter just one night," said Antoine.

During days of protests and a pandemic, he says we could all use a little or a lot of laughter in our lives.

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Antoine Bowman’s punchlines reach for the heart. A comedian whose mission to spread love and joy is no joke.

“So, I’m one of the ones that looks in the mirror in the morning time that its another day to go help someone and be great," said Antoine. “Make them laugh. Make them laugh."

Antoine’s next “Stop the Violence Comedy Movement” show is sponsored by the Gee Law Firm. It is scheduled for September 25, 2020.

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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