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Thanks to Ohio University junior Kali Borovic for this awesome guest post, which puts the spotlight on the college entrepreneurs behind CHAARG:
Nine campuses across the United States are getting together to learn new ways to sweat. Credit the fitness frenzy to CHAARG, a new organization dedicated to liberating girls from the elliptical—and showing young women all across America that living a healthy and active life is not as hard as it seems.
Through healthy eating, exercise and a positive attitude, CHAARG (which stands for Changing Health, Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls) aims to be a support group where young women can get together and work towards their goals both inside the gym and out. Founder Elisabeth Tavierne started the organization in 2012 to inspire young women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds to live healthy and fulfilling lifestyles; as their website states, CHAARG firmly believes “being skinny does not mean being healthy.” (Translation: no “thinspiration” here).
“We are not only a community of young women who love fitness; we are the embodiment of what all women strive to be,” explains Elisabeth. “Happy, balanced and fit.”
The Start of a Movement
CHAARG first came about in 2012 when Ohio State University student Elisabeth Tavierne realized that her campus was missing a student-run organization focused on women’s health and fitness. She started CHAARG her junior year, and after running her own group fitness classes to promote the organization, CHAARG soon gained 100 followers who felt the same dedication to a healthy and fit lifestyle.
As a former D1 swimmer for the Buckeyes, Elisabeth has devoted much of her college career to building up CHAARG at Ohio State and expanding the organization to eight other campuses. Now at OSU, University of Cincinnati, University of Michigan, University of Dayton and University of Dayton, CHAARG will soon be spreading throughout the Midwest to Indiana University, University of Toledo, Xavier University and University of Maryland this fall.
“Most college girls’ sole form of workout is the elliptical,” Elisabeth says. “CHAARG aims to liberate girls from the elliptical and show them that fitness can be fun.”
As a dedicated student balancing CHAARG with a major in exercise science, Elisabeth knows that the fun of fitness is dependent on many different preferences. The organization teams up with a new studio each week to bring its members a different type of workout class. With everything from salsa dancing to Crossfit, CHAARG makes sure that members are trying the new forms of fitness together, which makes it less scary.
But that’s not the only perk of becoming a CHAARG member. With a paid semester membership, each CHAARG girl gets a CHAARG tank top, a monthly overall wellness meeting (featuring anything from cooking classes to motivational speakers) and access to a secret Facebook groups where members discuss their progress.
Whereas virtual members don’t get all the perks, they do get the ability to participate in online events, such as fitness plans and giveaways. CHAARG members across all campuses are also connected online, where they can share goals and support each other.
Expanding the Movement
For Elisabeth, however, CHAARG is much more than an organization. She describes CHAARG as a movement that has nationwide impact.
“Through CHAARG’s social media platform, the message of CHAARG is able to reach women throughout the United States,” says Elisabeth. “Women from universities across the nation reached out in hopes of bringing the movement to their campus, triggering the sudden expansion of CHAARG chapters.”
Danielle Carroll, a junior and doctor of pharmacy candidate at University of Toledo, was one of the collegians responding with the interest in bringing a chapter to her campus.
“I wanted CHAARG at my school because I knew girls at Toledo had the potential to be the best that they can be, and I wanted to help them find their fit,” says Danielle. “CHAARG is all about the motivation of accomplishing fitness goals with friends, and that is what I wanted to add to my school.”
As a freshman, Danielle attended The Ohio State University and got to see firsthand the benefits of CHAARG. After she transferred to University of Toledo, she continued to see all of her friends back at OSU participating in CHAARG activities and found herself missing the organization. This past summer, Danielle had the brainstorm to start a CHAARG chapter at her campus. “In my eyes, CHAARG is the support that every college girl should have when it comes to being healthy and caring for their body,” says Danielle.
After the idea sparked, Danielle began promoting herself on social media sites. Using mainly Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, she began posting pictures and descriptions of her workouts, recipes and motivation for all to see.
She then filled out her application to be an ambassador in October, made a video about why the organization is important to her and was selected for an interview by national organization members in Chicago, where the national headquarter resides. After the interview, Danielle travelled home to Toledo, Ohio to wait and see if she would be selected.
All of her hard work eventually paid off, and she was notified that she would be the new CHAARG ambassador for the University of Toledo. For the job, which takes about 15 to 20 hours a week, Danielle is in charge of organizing all of the group workouts and events for the entire semester and finding an executive board to help her run the organization for the upcoming year.
Driven by passion for the organization instead of compensation, Carroll works hard in order for others to have the ability to see how CHAARG can empower young women everywhere. “I hope to be involved with CHAARG throughout not only the rest of my years in school but also far into the future,” Danielle shares. “I want to help spread CHAARG to all college campuses nationwide and even globally.”
The Future of the Movement
The dream of spreading CHAARG to campuses nationwide is not just a dream of Danielle’s but Elisabeth’s as well. According to CHAARG’s website, the ultimate goal of the organization is to expand CHAARG to universities nationwide.
However, they hold a humble approach to completing their goals. Instead of targeting the overall goal of expansion, the organization chooses to focus on their core desire of living a positive lifestyle and letting the expansion happen on its own. And their tactics seem to be paying off: 12 girls went through the same application process that Danielle went through this year. Although only four were chosen, the overwhelming success of the organization has made for the option to expand every semester.
The organization plans to expand their reach by three to eight chapters a semester, according to Elisabeth. The first expansion is only the beginning of the movement, which Danielle strongly believes in.
“It is amazing to me that this type of organization could start and attract so many girls in such a short amount of time,” said Danielle. “Seeing girls from across the country supporting one another because they are both CHAARG girls and have the same passion for health and fitness is incredible.”
Kali Borovic is a junior studying magazine journalism at Ohio University with a specialization in women and gender studies. Her writing has appeared in New York Girl Style as well as U-Blush Magazine.