U.S. Marines pride themselves on their ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome challenges. Chris Kaag is no exception. Diagnosed with a degenerative nerve condition while on active duty, Kaag’s military career was cut short two weeks after his 21st birthday.
However, nothing stops a determined Marine. Kaag shifted his focus and earned a business degree from Penn State University. In 2004, he started Corps Fitness, a military-style gym and team-building facility in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. As a personal trainer, Kaag pushes his clients to raise their fitness levels and their confidence to participate in triathlons and marathons.
“Corps Fitness is based on my Marine Corps experience, how it changed my life, and my will to inspire others to redefine what they are able to do,” Kaag said. “I go to work every day around motivating, encouraging, and good-hearted people.”
Kaag also started the nonprofit IM ABLE Foundation to show other disabled people that they can enjoy active lifestyles.
“IM ABLE empowers people with disabilities to be more active with adaptive equipment and to participate in adaptive fitness programs and events. Seeing someone who thought they couldn’t get out and do something realize they can is a rewarding experience,” he said.
Kaag enjoys kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking using his handcycle, and road riding along with his wife, Gretchen.
“I am more active now than I was before my disability,” he added, “and hopefully that will inspire others to realize they can do more and appreciate the abilities they still do have.”
Kaag’s 2005 Outback fits their lifestyle. “We’re not shiny car people,” he said, “so being able to throw our bikes on top, our gear in the back, and still be functional is awesome.”