Social Influencer Series | James Norris, Fitness Motivator & Entrepreneur
When I first met James Norris, he was just an ambitious kid in a wheelchair that was interning at our media company. He had a big smile and a big heart, but what I failed to realize about him then - is that he would also have the potential to inspire those around him to do incredible things.
James Norris is a truly remarkable young man. He is the founder of Handicapable Fitness - a movement to help others like him leverage the power of exercise and fitness to improve the quality of their lives. Every day on a variety of social channels, he shares content of himself and others doing truly incredible things. He inspired me to run again and get off of my healthy, but overweight backside to push myself and get back into shape.
James will tell you he was born "normal" just like the rest of us. At four years old he had a routine surgery for a hernia. The breathing tube was not taped in place properly and he moved - resulting in a loss of oxygen to his brain for five tragic minutes. Doctors were unsure if James would make it. Miraculously he survived, but was diagnosed with a form of Cerebral Palsy. His "normal" life would never be the same again.
He never asked - "Why Me?". He was raised by a great family with a strong faith and they pushed him to do the work of physical therapy and to live his life to the fullest. When I met James he was living life to the fullest - "partying" like a typical 20-something, but then something changed. He went off to California to work for a production company and he connected with someone in recovery. It inspired him to change his lifestyle and trade alcohol and partying for fitness and clean living and eating. He came back to New England to work out with Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning with a goal of strengthening his legs and upper body to the point of being able to walk.
I have followed this journey and transformation and it is nothing short of extraordinary. He's fifty pounds lighter; he's walking and he is super-fit; and he has a massive following on social media that keeps growing bigger every day. He is both an inspiration and a true social influencer.
I caught up recently with James Norris and here is a snapshot of what he had to say:
James you are truly an inspiration to all of us. What was your inspiration for Handicapable Fitness?
When I started going to the gym I noticed there wasn’t many adaptive athletes and I thought it would be great to show people no matter the challenge anything is possible
You are connecting great stories from across the globe of people who are not letting themselves be "held back" or defined by their handicaps. How has social media helped that effort?
Almost everyone has some form of social media so it much easier to get Your message out there and reach many more people....not only that I believe that in today’s society the impact is much more powerful.
You have had a lot of support from athletes and friends in the media industry. Who are some of the people along the way who've inspired you with their willingness to help?
Honestly I’ve had many but first and foremost I’d have to say my trainers Ken from Mike Boyle's Strength and Conditioning and Joe from Be Limitless Studio because they’ve designed programs around my challenges and I’ve seen great results. Next would be my former boss from my radio days Jason Rossi because he introduced me to Ken from MBSC and has help me make a lot of connections to help me get the HCF message out there. Without question my friends and family who have supported me since day one. Lastly the adaptive athlete community because there are days when I don’t feel like going to the gym then I’ll see a post and it will motivate me to get my butt in gear.
What advice would you give someone who is just getting started? How can they find that daily inspiration that only certain people seem to have?
Tony Robbins has a great motto - "Just do something, do anything!" - and I couldn’t agree more. You may never be the biggest, the fastest or the strongest but just do what YOU can do and over time you’ll be able to do more and that pushes you to keep going!
What advice would you give a non-profit organization about getting the word out via social media? How can they build a big presence and get heard?
Figure out who you want your target audience to be and provide them content that will bring them value and be consistent! Post at the same time each day,week ect. Engage with your audience and show appreciation for their support. Lastly network network network!
Proudest Accomplishment: Weight loss & walking
Boston Sports Figure for Inspiration: Tom Brady
Go-To-Social Channel: Instagram #IAmAdaptive #AdaptiveFitness
Key to staying motivated: #NeverGiveUp
Inspirational Hashtag: #WhateverItTakes and #FindYourFit
Mark Keaney is a Husband, Dad, Coach, Mentor and Leader. With over 20 years of experience in the media industry and a wild ride in the world of tech start-up & social - Mark is helping brands deliver world class CX at Lithium Technologies, where he is the Regional Vice President of Sales for the East and Central. His mantra is - Brand Globally. Market Locally.
e: firstname.lastname@example.org or t: @markkeaney2pt0