Petersburg native DB Donamatrix offers hometown healthy lifestyle tips – Progress Index

Celebrity Fitness Trainer DB Donamatrix, VSU alumni, begins the first Donamatrix Day 6-mile family bike ride at Petersburg Sports Complex on April 2, 2022.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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 food options and more.  

Donamatrix Day was inspired by DB Donamatrix’s commitment to shift the way his hometown views fitness, nutrition, physical health and mental health.  

A child captivated by the Virginia State University Woo Woos during Donamatrix Day at Petersburg Sports Complex on April 2, 2022.

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How did Petersburg become the city with the poorest health in Virginia? 

“Solving this will require a radical change in the underlying assumptions around how the City got there,” DB Donamatrix said. “My mission is bigger than fitness.” 

The fitness guru shared the following information:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that fewer than 50% of Americans participate in regular physical activity [Ekkekakis, P., Zenko, Z., Sports Psychology, 2016]. While most adults recognize the health benefits of exercise, they have associated exercise with displeasure.

Research further explains that negative emotions change decision-making behavior. This information highlights the public health challenge of increasing participation in physical activity to enhance physical health and to buoy the psychological benefits associated with physical activity [Acevedo, E., The Oxford Handbook of Exercise Psychology, 2012]. 

Daquan Reinhardt purchases a drink from Amanni at her Tink's Healthy Kitchen booth during Donamatrix Day at Petersburg Sports Complex on April 2, 2022. Reinhardt's four-year-old son Da' Mir is photo bombing.

“Don will not give up on his hometown,” Benson said. “He will continue to collaborate with the City of Petersburg Mayor and City of Petersburg Parks & Leisure Services to address the City’s chronic health conditions.”

DB Donamatrix’s fitness system Donamatrix Methodology is trusted by Hollywood’s most famous celebrities. His training studio is located at 7704 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, Calif.

Visit to learn more about the man with a plan who credits the City of Petersburg for his success. 

DB Donamatrix is confident 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 the bottom of the Va. list.

— Kristi K. Higgins aka The Social Butterfly columnist is the trending topics and food Q&A reporter at The Progress-Index. Have a news tip on local trends or businesses? Contact Kristi (she, her) at, follow @KHiggins_PI on Twitter @socialbutterflykristi on Instagram, and subscribe to us at