Neha Shabeer is a sophomore in the Accelerated Seven Year Medical Program with a minor in Public Health at Boston University (BU). One of her favorite groups at BU is Changing Health Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls (CHAARG). She is the VP Membership for BU CHAARG and is really passionate about what CHAARG offers to girls at BU. Neha wants you to join her in finding your fit through CHAARG!
Suzanne Crow: What is CHAARG?
Neha Shabeer: CHAARG stands for Changing Health Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls. We’re a national organization at over 90 universities across the country, which is really cool. The mission of our club is to free girls from the elliptical, so it’s basically changing the fitness narrative for girls and making it all about the fact that fitness can and should be fun for girls. Every single week we partner with different boutique fitness studios around Boston. We do weekly workouts with our girls and help them find their fit—whether it be boxing, barre, dance cardio, yoga, and more. Some studios we’ve partnered with in the past are 305 Fitness, Back Bay Boxing, Barre Groove, Flywheel, and BKBX. We are also part of a massive social media movement about the real, honest realities of health and wellness by posting on our CHAARG Instagram accounts—mine is @neha23_inchaarg—and using the hashtags #bosuchaarg and #inchaarg.
SC: What does being a member of CHAARG entail?
NS: Like I mentioned in the previous question, we have the weekly workouts, which girls can sign up to go to, as well as small group workouts and socials. So, for example, we’d have things like movie nights, wellness/self-cares socials where we would all do face masks or paint our nails together. We also have nutrition and body positivity workshops, all sorts of fun events like apple picking and going to the Boston Public Market, as well as just exploring Boston together. Some of that is going to look a bit different due to COVID-19, though... We like every CHAARG member to shape their experience to what they want it to be. So they can be involved in as much as they want, go to every event throughout the semester, or if they’re busy and have different things happening for them, they don’t have to go to every single thing. There aren’t any rules for how much you have to attend as a member. For our optional weekly small group workouts, girls can sign up for a time, and they stick with that group the entire semester, working out at the same time every week. So it kind of helps create that motivation to work out… The way I think about it is that our membership for the semester is $47. And typically, to go to a single class at a Boston-area studio by yourself is, on average, around $27. So if you just go to two of our weekly workouts, not even counting all of our socials and small group workouts and all the other amazing stuff we have going on, our membership is completely worth it.
SC: Why did you become a member of CHAARG?
NS: I first heard about CHAARG in the class of 2023 Facebook group… Immediately, I just thought this was a community for me. I danced throughout my whole life, so I really love the group aspect of fitness. And so, without dancing on campus, I really wanted to find a community of girls who really support each other and love to work out and stay healthy, like I found [being] part of the dance team. And also, throughout my senior year of high school, I got really into trying different workouts with my best friends… So it just seemed like a great combination of a great social community and then also fitting the interest and wellness goals that I had.
SC: How has CHAARG helped you find your place at Boston University?
NS: I will honestly say that I swear CHAARG girls are some of the kindest girls you can find on-campus… Just going to weekly workouts and meeting different girls and just having conversations that have turned into so many amazing friendships that I think will be lifelong has really helped me find my place at BU.
SC: What do you love the most about CHAARG?
NS: I think my favorite part of it would honestly be the community like I mentioned. The workouts and all of that is so amazing, of course. But, genuinely meeting those girls, that has been the best part for me. They have been so supportive, and I feel like they’re my number one supporters in a way. They’re the sort of girls who, when they know that you’re having [a] particularly busy or stressful week or something, they’ll just randomly check in with you and make sure you’re doing okay. Finding such thoughtful and uplifting friends like that can be hard.
SC: Why should one become a member of CHAARG?
NS: I feel like the reason why people join CHAARG [is] very personal to them, and that’s why we call it "Why I CHAARG." It can be for the workouts: a lot of girls played on sports teams all through middle school and high school, and then once they join college, they don’t have that anymore, so they are looking for ways to stay active and stay fit on campus. And our weekly workouts are a way for them to try all these different workouts and workout studios, so that’s one of the major reasons why people join. And also, like I’ve been talking about before, the amazing community we have. It’s really hard to find the motivation to stay active and work out when you can be so busy with classes and so many other things in your life, so having a community of girls who really support you and motivate you to keep doing that, especially with your small group, is also another reason why girls join CHAARG. Also just getting that female body empowerment from other girls and kind of shifting ourselves away [from] diet culture and fatphobia, which is so common in our culture, and really turning it into body positivity and realizing that there really is health at every size is why so many girls join... I just couldn’t imagine my college experience without CHAARG; like genuinely, I don’t even know what that would look like because I feel and see CHAARG in every aspect of my life.
SC: What is CHAARG’s plan regarding COVID-19?
NS: Our plan for this semester is to be accessible and inclusive to everyone, no matter where they are. So whether you are on campus, doing school remotely, taking a gap semester, commuting, whatever you’re doing this semester, we want you to feel welcome and that you have a place in CHAARG. We know that there’s just so much uncertainty right now with practically everything in our lives, and the one thing that we as an exec team and as a community want people to feel certain of is the fact that they have our community. So, we have worked hard to make sure that all of our weekly workouts, socials, formals, info sessions, everything like that are completely virtual… But what we are also doing for the girls who are on campus is some in-person small groups. So they’ll be at their chosen time every single week in those small groups of around like four to five girls is what we’re capping it at. And they’ll always work out with masks, mostly outdoors as long as we can, while the weather is good, so they can still have some of that social experience that we love. But that experience is not gonna be lost on girls who are remote either or don’t feel comfortable doing that in person. There’s still going to be small groups for girls to participate in virtually so they can still build that community… Our number one priority is to keep all of our members safe and healthy at all times.