ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Mark Geissbauer

From Professional Sports To Helping Employers and the World

I’ve been in and around the world of wellness since the age of 14. As a former athlete, manager and executive of professional soccer teams, the importance of health and wellness always played an important role in my life. Today, I am working in Business Development and Marketing for The Chelko Consulting Group. It was a natural fit for me to join our wellness committee and to offer my expertise shortly after joining the firm early 2012.

As health & welfare consultants, a major focus of our firm is to provide our clients with sound strategies to improve employee health and well-being. Therefore, we want to institute a culture of health at our own organization. A unique aspect of our program is that it focuses on different aspects of well-being (natural movement/fitness, purpose, community, nutrition, group belonging) instead of the typical HRAs or screenings.

The Strengh of our wellness program

The Chelko Consulting Group discusses it's wellness program and the advantages to the health of our team.

1. Professional Development

a. High National Diploma in Business and Finance Management, a High National Certificate and NVQ Customer Service Degree from the University of East London. I am also currently seeking a Masters of Arts from Columbia International University.

b. WELCOA Faculty Member and licensed in the State of Ohio for Life, Accident, Health and Annuities Insurance. I also worked as a Paramedic for a year in my home country, Germany.

c. Since I joined our wellness committee, we received the following wellness awards:

  • 2010 Silver Healthy Worksite Award
  • 2013 Wellness @ Work – Grand Prize winner in small to mid-size division
  • 2013 WELCOA Well Workplace Small Business Award

I personally also have been fortunate to receive several awards throughout my career. These include, but are not limited to:

  • 2008, in a nationally televised soccer match, we won Cleveland's only national professional outdoor sports championship since the Cleveland Browns in 1964.
  • Awarded the 2008 USL -2 Organization of the Year Award, Fair Play Award and elected into the league executive committee by peers.
  • Received the 2007 USL -2 Executive of the Year and Marketing Excellence Award.
  • Received the 2005 PDL Executive of the Year Award out of 69 US, Canadian and Caribbean Clubs.

d. My personal experience in the world of pro sports and our firms core believe to help our clients and own employees.

e. WELCOA Faculty Member and Training

2. Demonstrated Success

Throughout the year, our firm has done several major health promotion contributions such as offering free stress management programs, conduct corporate challenges, tobacco cessation programs and medical self-care initiatives.

a. Physical activity, stress management and team morale

b. ChelkOlympics – Employees compete in a series of fun team building events during lunch. Events included table tennis, corn hole, bocce ball, hillbilly golf, etc.

c. Specific outcomes:

i. Noticeable improvement in team members stress level and improved work performance due to closer relationships. Direct impact by going outside and away from our desks.

ii. Closer comradery between employees and continual desire for additional events.

iii. 100% participation and lots of positive feedback. As a result of these challenges, we started a Walking-Wednesday club.

d. I have greatly benefitted from the WELCOA 7 Benchmarks and training. It specifically helped me to craft operating plans for our wellness efforts as well as keeping a focus on evaluating outcomes of each program. Other benchmarks such as C-Suite support, a cohesive wellness team and a supportive environment have been present in our organization since it started 13 years ago.

3. Leadership

One of my personal life goals is to always lead by example (at work, at home and in the community). As such, I have focused my own efforts and personal lifestyle around the key components of our wellness program.

Here are just few examples...
Natural Movement/Fitness:

  • 1st Place in the “Rise to the Occasion” Step Challenge
  • Play on a local soccer rec team
  • Lead worship and dance with kids at our local church


a. Local:

  • Run free soccer clinics for urban kids in Cleveland during the summer
  • Support with different local charities and churches through pro-bono consulting
  • Leading our firms efforts of volunteer opportunities (i.e. help coordinate Christmas gifts from our staff to local families, Thanksgiving turkey deliveries, etc.)

b. Global:

  • Co-Founder and International Director for "Kickoff to Hope" (Anstoss zur Hoffnung), a community development and sports aid project in Africa and South America.
  • Lead and played on a pro soccer good-will tour to Burundi (Africa) this summer

I’ve been fortunate to work for several companies, where the president always had a vision for wellness and the well-being of his employees. Therefore, I want to encourage other wellness practitioners to join organization where “Wellness” is not just a buzz-word, but a culture.
4. Innovation

As previously mentioned, the focus of our wellness program is different than most programs. We don’t believe in the effectiveness of the typical “poke and prod” approach to wellness.

We rather focus on a more holistic approach to wellness. One of our guides in this adventure are the Power9 Lessons from the Blue Zones study.

Some of the innovative components of our program are:
   1.  Reimbursement of up to $250 per employee per year for fitness related items
   2.  Enhancements to the work space (additional plants, storage areas, ergonomic assessments and workstation adjustments)
   3.  Only healthy food for meeting, free water, healthy snacks, and information on selecting health meals/snacks and recipes to create our own health food options.  Employees are not permitted to share unhealthy foods (high calories, high fat or high sodium) with others.

We keep our wellness programs fresh and exciting by designing new challenges to keep our employees "on their toes."

Our program is making a difference in the lives of our team members, For example, one employee, a dedicated Chinese take-out customer, has made the choice to now enjoy sandwiches, yogurt, and fruit for lunch. These lifestyle changes have increased morale. One employee boasted, “You have never seen me in this shirt before because I have not been able to fit into it for years.”

5. Compelling Vision

One of the smartest people in world-history, Solomon, once said “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Therefore, it is my and our firm’s desire for the wellness industry to stop focusing on the traditional models of wellness. I’d like to see less “selling of wellness products” (i.e. biometric screenings, HRAs). Our new goal should be for employers to lead their organizations into creating a culture that fosters employee well-being. In contrast to running biometric-oriented wellness programs, attaining a culture of well-being embraces the whole person. Well-being can be understood as people achieving a satisfying level of social, economic, psychological, spiritual and medical states of living.

As for me personally, it is my goal to continue to advance my knowledge in the field and to continue to use my expertise and experience to benefit our own wellness efforts as well as the efforts of our clients.

I love being part of such an amazing company and wellness team and hope that we’ll be able to improve our efforts.

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Playing soccer with kids at an orphanage Providing encouragement and a helping hand Picture with the President of Burundi after a match in his home town Receiving the Wellness@Work Grand Prize
profile photo Posted by
Mark G.
Mark is in charge of new business development and marketing for The Chelko Consulting Group. In this new position, he is responsible for helping to identify and educate plan sponsors that are attracted to our benefit expertise, results driven consulting approach and vendor independence. Mark is an active member of the Chelko Wellness Committee and a WELCOA Faculty member. He brings a great international background and experience in professional sports and industrial sales. View Mark G.'s Profile.
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