Petersburg native DB Donamatrix offers hometown healthy lifestyle tips

Jennifer E. Engen

PETERSBURG — How did Petersburg native Don “DB Donamatrix” Brooks, a celebrity fitness trainer, react to his hometown being ranked the unhealthiest city in Virginia once again?

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison released the findings of the 2022 County Health Rankings in April. Petersburg was ranked dead last for the fifth time in a row.

In 2018, DB Donamatrix was recognized for his contributions to the fitness and wellness industries. The City of Petersburg proclaimed April 3rd as Don-A-Matrix Day to encourage all citizens to promote good health activities and become physically active.

“Donamatrix Day is special to me,” DB Donamatrix, a VSU alumni, said. “My mission is to make a difference that will have a lasting impact on the children, families, schools, government and everyone back home.”

Donamatrix Day at Petersburg Sports Complex on April 2, 2022.

In March, DB Donamatrix openly expressed how it hurts to read negative headlines about his hometown. The man with the plan who desires to change the narrative of health outcomes about Petersburg provides his take on the 2022 report completed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“I’m impressed with Petersburg’s 90% rate for access to exercise opportunities. This is huge,” DB Donamatrix said. “The 47% mammography screening is worth highlighting too. The mayor, city council and Petersburg are doing a lot to help improve the City’s health rankings.”

Petersburg’s child poverty rate of 36%, single-parent household rate of 52% and long commute-driving alone rate of 34% grabbed DB Donamatrix’s attention and sparked a discussion about exercise psychology.

Four-year-old Joliana Johnson skates during Donamatrix Day at Petersburg Sports Complex on April 2, 2022.

“Don’s most popular slogan ‘Mind Right, Body Ready’ was inspired by his ongoing study of exercise psychology which focuses on the connection between the mind and body and promotes involvement and enjoyment through exercise,” Teri Benson, a key organizer of Donamatrix Day said. “Theoretical and conceptual frameworks in exercise psychology are used to carefully plan and execute Donamatrix Day.”

“Yes, Petersburg has made exercise opportunities accessible to the people who live there, but these same people are single parents working hard to take care of their household financially… paying rent, mortgage, bills,” DB Donamatrix said. “Until we are able to reduce the child poverty rate and the overall city’s poverty rate, increase local job opportunities which will reduce the daily driving commute, and encourage dual-income households, it will continue to be hard for families to purchase better food choices and make decisions to attend free workouts held at local community centers or churches a priority.”

Donamatrix Day 6-mile family bike ride participants partake in complimentary fruit at Petersburg Sports Complex on April 2, 2022.

DB Donamatrix suggestions:

  • Incorporate gym and training facilities in city buildings and schools.
  • Install exercise equipment at 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 movement and positive mental health. 

“Solutions that increase daily/hourly movement without disrupting family routines before or after work or school are important,” DB Donamatrix said. “It is also key to come up with ways to lead healthy lifestyles without spending money on additional gas or transportation costs.”

Donamatrix Day attendees display hula hoop skills at Petersburg Sports Complex on April 2, 2022.

Negative headlines hurt DB Donamatrix:Petersburg ranked VA’s unhealthiest city: 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, abilities

Donamatrix Day 

“One of the difficulties we have faced with executing Donamatrix Day is gaining sponsorship. Not many health, fitness and wellness companies believe in a city that is deemed the unhealthiest or in a city that may not give them much buzz,” Benson said. “However, Don is never discouraged. He moves forward every year funding most of the fitness festival himself.”

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