Cincinnati's Extreme Makeover

Go Vibrant is the brainchild of Mark Jeffreys, a man with a personal passion for health and fitness. Jeffreys, a former dancer and rower who works at P&G, started Go Vibrant a year and a half ago. His motivation in creating the comprehensive health initiative has personal roots: at 15, Jeffreys lost his mother to heart disease. Go Vibrant, he says, is his effort to make Cincinnati an even better place for him and his kids.

"This drives me to make a change," he says. 

Jeffreys is quick to explain that Go Vibrant is neither a Mark Jeffreys nor even solely a P&G project.  He notes that Go Vibrant's future success rests upon the partnerships that the organization has developed throughout the region, including Fortune 500 companies like Western & Southern and Macy's, to nonprofits like the American Heart Association and YMCA.  Jeffreys also notes that Go Vibrant's philosophy emphasizes partnering with existing programs rather than building competing programs. In this manner, resources are maximized and all partners benefit. According to Jeffreys, the largest scope of the project arises from his decision at the outset to track down and consult with former P&G CEO John Pepper.

"He generously made time for me, for the project and he challenged me to think bigger," Jeffreys says.

Pepper is why Jeffreys' project grew from a personal passion to a mission to move the entire city from one of the statistically unhealthiest cities in the nation, to being a top ten healthy city by 2020.

To achieve his goal Jeffreys envisioned the project being built upon two broad pillars.  The first is affecting environmental change. This means partnering with the city and Queen City Bikes to implement bike paths and create walk paths for downtown workers. Jeffreys plans to adorn walk paths with physical markers much like the Freedom Path in Boston.

"The walking paths will also have a positive impact on the vibrancy of downtown," Jeffreys says.

The result will be a physical transformation of public spaces as well as employment spaces courtesy of the large corporate partnerships downtown that permit employee access.

"In order to be successful, to create a culture of healthy living, we need to change peoples' behaviors at every point during the day. This means not only reaching them at home or elsewhere during their free time, but during the day at work," Jeffreys says.

To that end, Jeffreys seeks to push projects which allow members to practice fitness and healthy living throughout the day, including at work and at lunch. Go Vibrant will distribute maps of its downtown walking path to partnership employers who will co-brand the maps and make them available to their employees. Concurrently, Go Vibrant will work to establish employee walking clubs in the hopes of encouraging groups of people to engage in daytime fitness.  The point isn't dramatic wholesale transformations popularized by television shows like the 'Biggest Loser' though.

"Go Vibrant's target is neither the ultimate couch potato nor the health and fitness convert. What we're really looking at is the ready and willing 25 percent. Those people who know better, who understand the importance of fitness but there's some obstacle in their way. First and foremost this initiative is targeted to that audience," he says.

Other projects for the coming year include working with Taste of Cincinnati to create a healthy eating section at the annual food fest, as well as implementing what Jeffreys calls 'Healthy Mondays' designed to encourage people to adopt a new healthier habit each week.

The second pillar of Go Vibrant, according to Jeffreys, is creating a culture of wellness. He promises the return of Ten Better in Ten, a ten week challenge that pairs three to four people over a ten week competition, with a bigger and better format featuring more participants and companies as well as the construction and installation of artistic bike racks throughout the city.

Go Vibrant will also be creating a series of health, fitness and wellness videos which will emerge throughout the year. These spots, to be shot by P&G's in house entertainment division, will appear via Go Vibrant's digital presence.

Katy Moeggenberg, Digital Marketing Manager, is responsible for that presence and a key part of Jeffreys' team.  Moeggenberg met Jeffreys through co-worker Clay Brizendine, who co-created the fitness video concept and leads the digital team with her and Sarah Strassel.  Moeggenberg is currently responsible for all digital elements relative to the project including the production of social media, as well as maintaining the project's digital presence. 

"In looking at the digital presentation I try and ask myself what would be compelling and what would keep participants engaged. It turns out there's no one single answer. People simply aren't all motivated by the same things," Moeggenberg says.

The first video will feature instruction in performing body weight exercises sans equipment.

"This is helpful to people on a budget because they can be done anywhere," Moeggenberg says. "They can be done in a bedroom or even an office, there's no need for a gym membership nor any need to buy equipment. It's also helpful for people who travel as these exercises can easily be done in a hotel room. By making things so simple we remove the excuses for not participating."

Photography by Scott Beseler.
Mark Jeffreys
Katy Moeggenberg Tree Pose
Katy Moeggenberg front pilar bridge pose
Wheel pose
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