NextStep Fitness

Recovery, Health, Independence


In 2006, Janne Khouri was taking a break from playing beach volleyball in Southern California when he dove into the Pacific Ocean for a swim that he had made many times before. However, this time was different and in a matter of seconds his life changed. After hitting his head on a sandbar, Khouri fractured his C5 & C6 vertebrae and was instantly paralyzed from the neck down. 


Prior to his injury, Khouri had always lived an active lifestyle, including playing college football at Georgetown University, and as he navigated his injury and recovery, he began to realize a huge gap in care for individuals that have suffered similar injuries.


Today, it is estimated that nearly 6 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs) and many of these people are struggling to get the health and wellness resources necessary to navigate their injuries. After meeting Dr. Susan Harkema at Frazier Rehab in Louisville and seeing the direct impacts of locomotor training, the two decided to team up to change that by starting NextStep Fitness. 


ORG In Action Spotlight: NextStep Fitness

Non-profit Cause

Maya Cluchey, a client at NextStep Fitness, says that along with the other people seeking treatment, the staff have been critical in her own recovery and the progress she is making after suffering a spinal cord injury as a result of gun violence.

Since its founding in 2008, NextStep Fitness has become an internationally recognized nonprofit that has inspired millions of individuals with paralysis by making life-changing rehab and fitness accessible and affordable.


By offering standardized activity-based therapy programs and interventions, based on research, “Our number one goal is for our clients to recover and gain as much independence as possible, but we are also focused on their overall health and wellness,” says Khouri. 


Today, NextStep has expanded internationally, opening training centers in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Orlando, Kansas City, Raleigh, Las Vegas, New Zealand, and Ukraine. And while the clients that arrive at NextStep are all impacted by SCIs, no one injury, or story of what brought them to NextStep is the same. Whether navigating a chronic illness, or surviving gun violence, what bonds the clients of NextStep is the sense of hope and community that comes from the care they receive and the progress they have seen in others. 


“I know I can walk again, because I have seen others here do it,” says Maya Cluchey, a client at NextStep’s Los Angeles location. She says that along with the other people seeking treatment, the staff have been critical in her own recovery and the progress she is making. 


While their expansion in the past 15 years has been instrumental to improving the quality of life, recovery, and overall health of over 2,000 individuals, NextStep is still unable to meet the demand for this care. Despite not being covered by many health insurance companies in the United States, most of their facilities still have a waitlist. In order to continue their expansion to new cities, ongoing investments in state of the art equipment, and bringing on highly skilled employees, reaching donors is critical. This is where their website comes in. 


On their site, users can find important information about their facilities, treatment, events such as their Rides for Paralysis, stories about the people and families that have been positively impacted by NextStep, and ways to get involved and support their work. 


Learn more at https://www.nextstepfitness.org/