By Jessica Dortch
AFRO Production Editor

If you frequent Lake Montebello, then you can’t help but notice the group of men who use the provided equipment to work out. What you didn’t know is that some of these men are certified personal trainers who not only help to build bodies, but they build bonds with each other too.  

Many people see the COVID-19 pandemic as a setback, but these fitness enthusiasts didn’t use gym closures as an excuse to slack off. “When the quarantine hit, I couldn’t go to the gym and I wanted to continue my fitness journey. I started my journey at 350lbs and now I’m currently at 280lbs, so I still wanted to stay active and stay in shape,” one of the trainers, who goes by the nickname “Dot” told the AFRO. When Dot would workout at Lake Montebello, he would always see the men using the provided equipment. A few conversations and workouts later, Dot is 20lbs lighter and hopes to inspire others to join the family.

The founding members of Building Bodies & Bonds pose for a picture (Courtesy photo)

“We became brothers,” Marcus “Mo” Haddon, another member of the crew, who is a retired professional basketball player, said. “We united through the running and the workouts,” he added. Mo started working out with the guys last year, and when the pandemic hit, preventing them from going to the gym, they didn’t want to simply stop exercising. 

Another member, who goes by “Big Ant,” joined the brotherhood after someone approached him, too. “I kind of thought it was a challenge, so I came the next day and was so tough that I actually got sick,” he recalls with a laugh. Big Ant is credited with naming the group after an Instagram post. “The name came from what I saw the guys already doing. It reminded me of high school practice, everybody is having fun. We have conversation about our personal lives, and I posted on instagram ‘building bodies and bonds,’” and the rest is history.  

Now, you may be a little intimidated seeing how sculpted these men are, but the good news is that they have workouts for people at every level, especially for beginners. Quron Smith, who was recovering from an injury and battling depression, found family with the guys. “We are out there every day, I don’t care what level you’re on, there’s always another level you can go to. We are always challenging each other,” Smith encourages everyone at every age to get up and get fit.

The founding members of Building Bodies & Bonds pose for a picture (Courtesy photo)

Tayvon “Deuce” Smith, one of the founding members of the group, is a certified personal trainer who works out for his own peace of mind. He explained to the AFRO that on any given day, they host group workouts of about 20 to 25 people. The members take turns leading exercises, in  which they can evaluate the skill level of participants. If need be, the group breaks down into smaller groups for less intense, yet core strengthening workouts. 

You can find the group at Lake Montebello daily in the morning from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and in the evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. To join the family, take a trip to Lake Montebello or visit them on Instagram and Facebook at @buildingbodiesandbonds.