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The Fitness 4 Focus story really begins with the story of Tommy.


Founder Chris Russell first met Tommy McHale in 2005. At the time, Chris was a Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) worker for Youth Advocate Programs. At recess on a fall day in Palmyra, PA, he bounced a ball to a boy named Tommy on the playground. The ball went right by him. Three seconds later, Tommy looked. Then he turned to go get the ball. 


This simple moment inspired a profound idea in Chris. An idea of a place.


A place where people with special needs could go to become better. Stronger.


A place that would make them stronger, not only physically, but also cognitively.


A place where they could go to gain confidence. 


A place where an athlete could become more independent. 


Chris noticed Tommy’s poor hand-eye coordination and stamina, but he also knew that Tommy and others like him could improve their physical health with the right tools, people, and environment. ​


Five years later, in January 2010, Fitness 4 Focus officially began. The first facility (just the back of a church in Hershey) has since grown to three facilities spread across central Pennsylvania, and a new location in Charlotte, NC. 


And what about Tommy? He has lost 90 pounds, gained more than that in confidence, and still comes to the gym three times a week, ready to work hard and grow as an athlete.




At Fitness 4 Focus, "They Fit In"

Are physical and emotional wellness connected?

Chris Russell of “Fitness 4 Focus” thinks so.

“Our name is inspired from our goal of helping all those with developmental disabilities to improve in four specific and related areas: strength, coordination, cognitive abilities and overall wellness,” Russell said. “Our approach is to address these through exercise and related activities.”

The home base of Fitness 4 Focus is currently located at Tim’s Personal Training, 11 East Main St., Hummelstown, although Russell has a dream of someday having his own building.

Fitness 4 Focus is making a difference for those with special needs- CBS Channel 21

DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- There are plenty of statistics proving the positive affect of exercise on the brain. But for a brain that develops differently, for example, in a person with autism -- exercise is changing their entire life. Well, it's actually the staff at one particular gym that is making a difference.

"To look at Tommy 10 years ago and Ethan three years ago and remember what they were when they came into the door, what they were and where they started and now, it's unbelievable," Chris Russell, President and CEO of Fitness 4 Focus, said.

E. Petersburg gym to offer special workouts for special needs-

During a game of catch at recess one day a decade ago, Chris Russell tossed a ball to 10-year-old Tommy.

"He just let it whiz on by," recalls Russell, a therapeutic trainer.

The lack of reaction by Tommy, a boy with special needs, gave Russell a flash of insight.

Sure, such special-needs kids could use his help in developing cognitive skills.

But their bodies also cry out for the coordination and muscular strength required to do basic activities like bathing and using the toilet — and playing.

Hershey area gym provides personal training and coaching for people with special needs-

At Fitness 4 Focus you will find treadmills and medicine balls and individuals doing push-ups and sit-ups just like any other gym. But, you will also find athletes learning how to read from a list of exercises and working to improve their anxiety.

About a decade ago, Chris Russell who was working as a therapeutic support staff employee at the time, was playing catch with an individual with special needs and noticed that the student had deficits in the areas of physical endurance, strength and coordination. At that time he came up with the idea of a gym for individuals with special needs.

Obstacle race inspires athletes, families, friends- ABC 27

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) -- For parents of children with special needs, taking part in big events can be daunting.

"I think a lot of us feel isolated, as parents," explains Jennifer Taggart.

Taggart's 12-year-old son, Loren, is nonverbal. He has Autism and Apraxia. But Loren is seeing improvements in his daily living by working out at Fitness 4 Focus.

Fitness 4 Focus opened in 2010. Founder, Chris Russell, has gyms in Hershey, Lancaster, and Mechanicsburg. Every day, he helps athletes with special needs, like Loren, live a more independent lifestyle.

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