Americans are too sedentary – sitting more, in fact, than any other time in history. State by state, Ohio ranks 37th in the nation – near the bottom – for physical inactivity. Blame it on sedentary jobs, unpleasant weather or simply stressful lifestyles with too much screen time; but regardless of the reason, about a quarter of Ohioans report doing no exercise outside of their regular jobs.
David Matevia of Kettering found himself gaining weight after returning to Ohio from California in 2001.
“I’m a transplant to Dayton,” Matevia said. “I was born in Troy and graduated from high school in Findlay.”
In San Francisco, Matevia worked in the music industry booking concerts. He and his wife, Leigh Ann, decided to move with their two children to Ohio to be closer to family. Matevia had no prospects for work in the music industry in Ohio, so he became a stay-at-home dad.
“It was great because it saved us a lot of money on babysitting!” he said.
Matevia, thin in high school, didn’t participate in sports outside of junior high track. He remained in good shape throughout the family’s time in California because he walked everywhere.
“Everything is different here – very sedentary,” Matevia said.
He knew he was gaining weight while staying at home with his children but, like many people, he avoided the scale. It took all those years after returning to Ohio for the weight to come on. He went from his normal weight of 155 to 310 but didn’t know it for sure until he decided to get on the scale in October of 2021.
“I freaked out,” Matevia said. “I never would have guessed that.”
Matevia at 6 feet, 2 inches, usually weighed in between 145 and 155 pounds.
“I got really embarrassed when I saw my weight,” Matevia said. “Up to that point, I was thinking about going on a diet but didn’t do anything.”
By this time, the Matevias had three children — two adults and a teenager — and a stay-at-home dad was no longer needed. Matevia took on what he considered another sedentary job – becoming a shopper for Shipt and delivering groceries and other items to local homes.
Matevia began to take steps to address his weight. He started by cutting out sugar and white flour, noodles and rice, and he stopped drinking sugary sodas and drinks. He lost about 20 pounds of excess weight.
Around Thanksgiving of 2021, Matevia’s mother-in-law won a membership to a local gym in Kettering called Workout Anytime. At 85 years old, she wasn’t going to use it, so asked the family if anyone wanted it.
“I said I would take it, even though I had never stepped inside a gym in my life,” Matevia said. My brother-in-law wanted it, but I promised him I was going to use it.”
At the end of that year, Matevia, then 54 years old, walked into a gym for the first time. He took advantage of the 24-hour access and went in to walk on the treadmill late at night, when the crowds were likely to be the lowest. Suffering from arthritis in his knees, Matevia was limited in what he could do without pain. And doctors told him he’d eventually need knee replacement surgery.
“I couldn’t run,” Matevia said. “At first I could only do about 10 minutes, but I kept pushing myself.”
Holly Surface, the owner of Workout Anytime in Kettering has helped Matevia achieve his fitness goals from the outset.
“Holly was the first person I met when I went in,” Matevia said. “She showed me everything and how it all worked.”
Matevia continued using only the treadmill for about six months before deciding to try weightlifting. The staff encouraged him to push himself and before long, he was working out five to six days each week. He still mostly goes at night so he can continue his delivery job during the day. He now weighs 245 pounds.
After the free membership expired, he signed up again.
“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made, hands down,” Matevia said. “The last time I saw my doctor, he said it didn’t look like I needed to have my knees replaced!!”
Surface and her husband have owned the business for three years and have been involved in the fitness industry for many more years. Surface said people like Matevia continue to make a huge difference in her life as well.
“David was embarrassed to even walk in here,” Surface said. “I told him he had no reason to feel uncomfortable here. What I really love is hearing the stories and helping people reach their fitness goals.”
Today Matevia admits controlling his diet is the most difficult part of his health journey. Exercise, he said, is much easier than people think it is.
“I sat there all this time and developed all these health issues,” Matevia said. “If I had started in my 20′s, it would have made a big difference. But at least I did start. This has really changed my life.”