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Take Down Heart Disease with Mark Briggs

January 24, 2018 9:37 a.m.

Mark Briggs has a passion for helping others get fit and improve their health.

As an Army veteran and a former area police officer, Briggs has always maintained a certain level of fitness, but he took it to the next level after finding his passion for fitness at a low point in his life.

Briggs had recently gone through a divorce and was in bad shape physically and emotionally when he saw an infomercial on TV for Power 90 from Beachbody, a national fitness company based in California. “I had never bought anything off the TV before, but for whatever reason it spoke to me and I bought it. I ended up losing 40 pounds and it flipped a switch in me for learning more about nutrition and a better understanding of kinesiology and how the body functions and it became my passion,” he said.

Briggs, who lives in Tolono, has been making his mark in the fitness industry ever since. He is a founding Team Beachbody coach who was cast in several of Beachbody’s in-home DVD fitness programs including P90X+, the follow-up series to the popular P90X program. Briggs has also traveled the globe with P90X creator Tony Horton in support of troops in Europe, Japan, and throughout the United States.

Briggs is sharing his transformational story as the featured speaker at Sarah Bush Lincoln’s men’s only free event, “Take Down Heart Disease,” set for 6 to 8 pm, Thursday, Feb. 22, in at the Brick House Bar and Grill in Charleston.

Take Down Heart Disease will give attendees the opportunity to learn about the importance of physical fitness and staying active to help prevent heart disease. Also speaking will be Prairie Heart Cardiologist Thomas Cahill, MD, who will talk about risk factors of heart health. A variety of Sarah Bush Lincoln health professionals will be on hand to answer questions about fitness, tobacco cessation, weight management, sleep disorders and diabetes.

Briggs started coaching others on fitness and nutrition on Beachbody’s online message boards as soon as he got in the best shape of his life in 2003 and he continues to lead by example for his friends and family today.

Briggs shared that losing his father during the time that he was gaining success with Beachbody had a big impact on his life. “My entire family on both sides has a long history of heart disease and diabetes and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going down that path,” he said. “My dad ended up being a great motivator in really trying to help other people and to not end up in an early grave myself.”

With ties to the area, he looks forward to sharing his story to a local crowd. Briggs began his career as a police officer in Kansas in 1991 and also served as an officer in Charleston, the Coles County sheriff’s department and at Eastern Illinois University. He retired from the Champaign police department in 2009 to pursue his passion in fitness fulltime as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and MMA strength and conditioning coach.

“It’s been an absolute blessing in my life and my goal remains making a difference in people’s lives and that’s why I coach,” he said. “I’m of the opinion that we’re all on this earth to pay it forward for others if we have the opportunity to do it. I train first responders here at my house for free and that’s kind of my way to give back.”

In July 2017, Briggs assumed the position of Lead Law Enforcement/Tactical Trainer for Brute Force Training, a company based out of Colorado. Since assuming that position, he created a home-based fitness training program dedicated to the health and wellness of law enforcement officers called The Blue Line series which will be released in 2018.

Dr. Cahill stressed that “small changes can make a big impact on a person’s heart health. Our hope is that men will see this as an opportunity to learn about their heart health in a fun atmosphere and perhaps make a single change that can have a long-lasting impact.”

Event Coordinator Chris Kessler said, “We know that many times women are the drivers in healthcare and there are many programs offered throughout the year geared toward women and women’s health. We wanted to offer a program for men only, with male presenters in an environment that would be conducive to asking questions and learning about their own health.”

Attendees will receive two drink tickets and appetizers will be served. While the event is free and open to men 21 and older, attendees must reserve a seat by Feb. 17 by calling 217 258-2420 or emailing jtruesdale@sblhs.org.

For more information about Take Down Heart Disease, call 217 821-0426, or email ckessler@sblhs.org.

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