As a Black male, Marcus McDuffie wants to help change racist points of view.

He spoke with members of his Pasadena-based gym, Aion Training, about his feelings. McDuffie also volunteered for Young & Healthy, which helps children who are without health care.

Still, he yearned to do more.

McDuffie teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to raise funds through a charity workout—with social distancing—in Liberty Park to help with the fight against racial inequality.

“We did the fundraiser right in the midst of everything that was happening,” he said. “The protests were at their highest. The pandemic was getting worse.

“I wanted to contribute to the change we want to see. I couldn’t see myself as someone directly protesting, so I was talking to people and educating people through conversation.”

McDuffie hoped to raise $500. He collected $8,100.

“My members completely ran away with it,” McDuffie said. “We initially organically raised $2,025 on our own. Then, one of my members, her company was triple matching. She chose us as a beneficiary.

“I was shaken by it. I couldn’t believe we had the power to raise this much with only 60 or 70 members. My members are just honestly always carrying about stuff besides themselves.”

McDuffie grew up in the Riverside area and said it was “impossible” not to be affected by racism. Little things like lyrics and glances took up his mental space.

“You don’t get used to it, but you become aware of it,” McDuffie said.

He attended high school in Moreno Valley with 4,000 other teens. After graduating, he studied kiniesology at Occidental College, which brought him to Pasadena.

“I played football there for three years and then quit to do physical training,” he said. “It shaped a lot of what I learned. I do think that contributes to what’s happening in the world. I’m a little more educated in certain areas and able to talk to my clients and have them understand it.”

In January 2019, he founded Aion Training, a Pasadena gym for those 40 and older. While prioritizing community, care and form, Aion Training offers various forms of personalized training services, athletic boot camps and nutrition consulting in-person and online. Aion Training separates itself from its competitors by focusing on long-lasting, lifelong, personalized results to ensure that each client leaves feeling lean and pain-free.

Charity workouts are nothing new for Aion Training, as they are a staple at the gym following previous fundraisers for No Kid Hungry, Thorn, Angel Tree and Young & Healthy.

“We’ve created an awesome culture,” McDuffie said. “We’re not just going to be people who are just obsessed with the gym. We’re focused on the community outside of the gym. A couple of my members are meeting up at a food bank. We’re more than just people who go to the gym and lift weights.”

And McDuffie is continuing the conversation with his clients.

“With my position, people listen to me,” said McDuffie, a member of the NAACP. “I talk about what I’ve been through. It’s been awesome to have this platform. My clients have talked with their friends about these things. They continue to have conversations.” 

Aion Training

2620 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena