Photograph by Elmer Escobar
What started in 2011 as a personal exercise quest blossomed into a community fitness movement dubbed PayanX. Beginning before dawn three days a week, hundreds meet at Santa Ana Stadium to participate in the volunteer-led workout. Marc Payan, a father of two who runs a research firm full-time, hopes to expand his program into nearby cities this year. “This isn’t like going to a gym. It’s about a shared experience, learning that you can do hard things, and applying that to the rest of your life.”
Describe a typical session.
It’s dark, you roll up and hear the music bumping. We have 12 to 20 leaders who have gone through training, and they conduct a series of workouts. You feel motivated by the people around you. Someone does one pushup one day, and the next they can do two, and you feed off of that.
How much is a workout?
They’re free, with a $1 suggested donation to help pay for insurance, equipment, and training. I didn’t want the cost to be a barrier or excuse for people.
What makes PayanX unique?
We’re not in the fitness business. We are in the people business. It’s less about weight loss and more about health gain.
How have people applied the program to their lives?
A young woman came up to me and said it had given her the strength to confront her childhood abuser. I never would have thought the decision to improve an area of my life would ever have such an impact on others.
PayanX takes place at 5:15 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at Santa Ana Stadium. payanx.com