PETERSBURG — How did Petersburg-born Don “DB Donamatrix” Brooks, a famous fitness trainer, react when his hometown was once again ranked as the unhealthiest city in Virginia?
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison released the 2022 County Health Rankings results in April. Petersburg finished bottom-dead for the fifth straight year.
In 2018, DB Donamatrix was recognized for its contributions to the fitness and wellness industry. The city of Petersburg has declared April 3rd as Don-A-Matrix Day to encourage all citizens to promote good health activities and get physically active.
“Donamatrix Day is special to me,” said DB Donamatrix, a VSU alumni. “My mission is to make a difference that will have a lasting impact on children, families, schools, government and everyone at home.”
In March, DB Donamatrix was open about how painful it is to read negative headlines about his hometown. The man with the plan, who wants to change the narrative of Petersburg’s health outcomes, comments on the 2022 report produced by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“I’m impressed by Petersburg’s 90 percent access rate to sports facilities. That’s huge,” said DB Donamatrix. “The 47 percent mammography screening is also noteworthy. The Mayor, City Council and Petersburg are doing a lot to help improve the city’s health ranking.”
Petersburg’s child poverty rate of 36%, single-parent household rate of 52%, and the rate of 34% traveling long distances alone by car caught the attention of DB Donamatrix and sparked a discussion about movement psychology.
“Don’s most popular slogan ‘Mind Right, Body Ready’ was inspired by his ongoing study of exercise psychology, which focuses on the mind-body connection and fosters participation and joy through movement,” said Teri Benson, a key Donamatrix Day organizer . “Theoretical and conceptual frameworks of movement psychology are used to carefully plan and conduct the Donamatrix Day.”
“Yes, Petersburg has made sports opportunities available to the people who live there, but those same people are single parents who work hard to take care of their household financially…they pay rent, mortgages, bills,” DB Donamatrix said. “Until we are able to reduce child and city-wide poverty rates, improve local employment opportunities that reduce daily car commutes, and encourage dual-income households, families will continue to struggle buy better food choices and make attending free training sessions held at local community centers or churches a priority.”
Suggestions from DB Donamatrix:
- Integrate fitness and exercise facilities into city buildings and schools.
- Install exercise equipment in outdoor parks.
- Replace typical vending machine snacks and drinks with healthier options.
- Start or end staff meetings, the school day, and classes with 5-10 minute exercises, meditation, or yoga to influence exercise and positive mental health.
“Solutions that increase daily/hourly exercise without disrupting family routines before or after work or school are important,” said DB Donamatrix. “It’s also important to find ways to lead a healthy lifestyle without spending money on additional gas or transportation costs.”
Negative headlines hurt DB Donamatrix:Petersburg ranked as the unhealthiest city in Virginia: Fitness guru offers ways to close health gaps
New Activity: 6-Mile Family Bike Ride:Petersburg fitness festival Donamatrix Day: family fun for all ages and abilities
“One of the difficulties we faced in running Donamatrix Day is recruiting sponsors. Not many health, fitness and wellness companies believe in a city that ranks as the unhealthiest, or a city that might not draw them much attention,” said Benson. “But Don never gets discouraged. He makes progress every year and finances most of the fitness festival himself.”
The 2022 Free Fitness Festival for all abilities, ages and fitness levels took place on Saturday, April 2 at the Petersburg Sports Complex. It consisted of a 6 mile family bike ride, bike safety checks, music, group fitness, fishing, health screenings, kids fitness, exhibits, demonstrations, healthy eating options and much more.
Donamatrix Day was inspired by DB Donamatrix’s commitment to transforming his hometown’s perspective on fitness, nutrition, physical and mental health.
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How did Petersburg become the worst-healthy city in Virginia?
“To solve this, the underlying assumptions about how the city got there must be radically changed,” DB Donamatrix said. “My mission is bigger than fitness.”
The fitness guru shared the following information:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that fewer than 50% of Americans are regularly physically active [Ekkekakis, P., Zenko, Z., Sports Psychology, 2016]. While most adults recognize the health benefits of exercise, they associate exercise with disinclination.
Research goes on to explain that negative emotions alter decision-making behavior. This information highlights the public health challenge of increasing physical activity participation to improve physical health and promote the psychological benefits associated with physical activity [Acevedo, E., The Oxford Handbook of Exercise Psychology, 2012].
“Don’s not going to give up his hometown,” Benson said. “He will continue to work with the Mayor of the City of Petersburg and the Parks and Recreation Services of the City of Petersburg to address the city’s chronic health issues.”
DB Donamatrix’s Donamatrix Methodology fitness system is trusted by Hollywood’s most famous personalities. His training studio is located at 7704 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, California.
Visit donamatrix.com to learn more about the man with a plan who credits the city of Petersburg with his success.
DB Donamatrix is confident that Petersburg will become one of the fittest and healthiest places in the country.
Fifth time in a row…:What makes a city healthy? Study puts Petersburg’s “health” at bottom of Va. list.
— Kristi K. Higgins aka The Social Butterfly columnist is a Trending Topics and Food Q&A reporter at The Progress-Index. Do you have a news tip about local trends or businesses? Contact Kristi (she, she) at [email protected], follow @KHiggins_PI on Twitter @socialbutterflykristi on Instagram and subscribe to us at progress-index.com.