Shortly after graduating High School, Kaag served his country in the United States Marine Corps for almost five years. He still remembers the words of his Drill Instructor, “Don’t quit on me, Kaag” which would serve as a beacon of hope and reassurance in the upcoming years. At the age of 21 and in the prime of his military career, Kaag was diagnosed with adrenomyeloneuropathy, a rare degenerative condition affecting the myelin sheath of his nerve cells, and was discharged from the Marine Corps. He began to walk with a cane, then two canes. With a new direction and a “don’t quit on me” attitude, Kaag earned a business degree from Penn State Berks and began using his military-style fitness regimen to train small and large groups. These training sessions and Kaag’s passion for improving the quality of life for those around him through physical fitness, evolved into Corps Fitness in 2004, headquartered in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, his condition continued to worsen, and he soon transitioned to a wheelchair. Kaag persisted with strength and resiliency and began competing in races and raising funds for medical research which gave way to the new-found pursuit to assist other veterans and individuals with disabilities.
In 2007, he launched the IM ABLE Foundation, with the mission to remove obstacles that prevent people with disabilities from being physically active by providing grants, resources, fitness opportunities, and motivation. His motto was simply, “Get Up and Move!”. He has developed programs like IM FIT, a free fitness class for all adaptive children and young adults to practice the fundamentals of exercise together in a supportive and motivational environment, Operation Lead From the Front, a mentorship program that matches adaptive athletes with veterans in a relationship fostered around physical fitness and fun, and Rally Point, geared around his passion for the trails, which joins the adaptive and able-bodied community on various level bike rides through the Berks county trails and beyond. The IM ABLE Foundation has also awarded hundreds of equipment grants to motivated and deserving individuals in the adaptive community.
He has been able to accomplish great things with the support of his resilient and ever-supportive wife and fellow trainer, Gretchen Kaag. Their rambunctious and lovable son, Carter, is a testament to the Kaag culture.
Chris Kaag is an inspiration to everyone, able-bodied and adaptive, that he encounters, and he encourages them to celebrate the abilities they have, rather than focus on those they don’t. Chris, his family, his team, and his community believe that an active lifestyle is achievable for all, regardless of their abilities. Chris is a Robert Irvine Foundation IBOT recipient and is honored to be a part of Robert’s Ambassadors.