Mark Castleberry, senior project manager for Corporate Information Services Business Solutions, Cox Enterprises
In his day-to-day role at CEI, Mark Castleberry’s job is to lead changes in information technology for programs like PeopleSoft (our paycheck and benefits handling software) and talent systems like our Compass tool, Learn@Cox. Mark didn’t realize when he began his career with Cox that not only would he help make changes in IT, he would also begin changing himself through an incredible fitness journey.
When I decided to start exercising, I first went to the Chip Allen Fitness Center on the Cox Campus in Atlanta. I wasn’t in very good shape and had no gym routine. After a few months of going two or three days a week, a friend invited me to try a group fitness class.
I was totally hooked after the first class. I started doing five or six classes a week — kickboxing, step aerobics, boot camp, spin, all of it. And I started realizing, “Holy smoke, I’m really getting in shape!”
Hooked on Running
From there, I was dared by two of my co-workers to go on a run and immediately loved it. In 2009 I did my first race and had some success — and by 2016 I was on the USA Track and Field 5K Masters National Championship Team from the Atlanta Track Club. And now I’m on the Atlanta Track Club Masters Elite Running Team. My personal best is 16:17 in the 5K.
Making It a Habit
Once I got to the point where exercising was a habit, I wasn’t going to let anything be an excuse. I’m up at 4:45 a.m. every day to start running at 5:30 a.m. with a group of running buddies who meet near the Chattahoochee River. I’ve probably lost about 45 pounds.
There wasn’t one single thing that pushed me toward doing it, or one single goal. I was a sickly teenager because I have Crohn’s disease. We also have a family history of heart disease. My dad is still with us and he’s 70, but his father passed away at 49 and both of his brothers died young. I felt I needed to get steered back in the right direction.
More than anything else, it’s given me a wide range of friends and helped me build some really healthy relationships. I now have a whole running network that’s as big as my professional network. And all that never would have gotten off the ground without those first two or three years of getting into a healthy routine here at Cox.
Over my career I’ve almost always worked for privately held companies, and the difference is noticeable. Cox takes great care of its employees and has excellent benefits. I have a great relationship with my management team, and the team and the company are always putting employees first.