Brown Buttabean closes Manukau gym to protect clients from COVID-19

By Jessica Tyson

David Letele, also known as 'Brown Buttabean', is one of many fitness trainers around the motu turning to social media to run gym classes to stop the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

Letele closed his gym, Brown Buttamean Motivation in Manukau this week and has been hosting boot camps live on Facebook as an alternative.

“We just had to stop our boot camps because we're dealing with a lot of vulnerable people that are at risk. 

"Because a lot of people that come here, especially ones from the couch, they’re unhealthy, they’re just starting their journey.

"So they’re the most at risk of catching, not just the Coronavirus, but any virus.”

Online boot camp at BBM. Source: File

Brown Buttamean Movitation runs free boot camps with around 2000 people attending per week. He says people have taken it "quite hard" after he decided to cancel the bootcamps at the gym.

"Because it’s not the exercise they miss, it’s the belonging to a community, the connection.

"You got a lot of lonely people out there and for the 45 minutes to an hour here, they're around positive people, they’re around positive influences."

There have been no decisions made by the Auckland Council to close recreation centres, Manukau Councillor Alf Filipaina says.

"There has not been a decision made about our Rec Centres and the Council will be seeing what happens about the virus spread within Tamaki Makaurau and Aotearoa.

"Due to the evolving crisis, a decision will be made about Councils' Rec Centres once things change," Filipaina said in a statement to Te Ao.

Letele says he took matters into his own hands without guidance from the council.

“What's wrong with the council and government officials or anyone that has to do with the council or government is too much bureaucracy and they have to have meetings and surveys to do anything.

"I saw a need and I did it. It’s about being a leader and taking action for the benefit of our people.”

Letele has also had to postpone his upcoming World's Biggest Bootcamp scheduled to take this Sunday. However, there have been some benefits from hosting boot camps online.

“It's been amazing because people that aren’t in Auckland that could never normally attend are now able to do them. A lot of people have said that before Mondays' boot camp we did online they were really struggling mentally.

"But that boot camp we did on Monday which reached 15,000 people really kick-started them to say ‘Hey look, this is life, we have to keep going’."

Letele plans to open the gym, as soon as the situation with the virus improves.  

Letele and his wife Koreen after hosting an online class. Source: File