This story was contributed by Sara Schuham
When Rachel Black transferred to the University of Richmond, there were a lot of things she left behind. However, she decided to take CHAARG and bring one of her favorite communities with her to Richmond.
Black, a sophomore, is currently in the process of starting a University of Richmond chapter of CHAARG: Changing Health, Attitudes, and Actions to Recreate Girls. CHAARG is an organization on 50+ college campuses for women to work out together and aims for women to support and empower each other to be their happiest and healthiest selves, according to the CHAARG website.
Black transferred from Ohio University this past fall and is majoring in Accounting with a minor in Italian. She had been a member of CHAARG during her freshman year at Ohio University.
Her friend had told her about the group, and she thought it sounded like a great idea and decided to sign up, she said. She loved the community she had experienced while in CHAARG at Ohio University, especially because she had always played sports growing up, she said. Black also got especially close to her small group leader.
CHAARG members are broken up into small groups that meet weekly depending on when works best for their schedule, Black said. This helps break the large group down so that members can get closer with people they may have never known before. The groups are led by a group leader, who tailors the group workouts sent to her by the national chapter to meet the women’s abilities and preferences.
Additionally, the club members choose a day each week for a “Studio Spotlight,” when the whole club comes together and an outside fitness studio comes and teaches a class to the women for free, Black said. Black had to acquire signatures from 11 businesses around Richmond interested in participating in a Studio Spotlight for the application to bring CHAARG to UR, and was able to get signatures from Pilates, barre and cycling studios around the city, she said.
Black currently has approximately 115 signatures of women at UR who are interested in joining, and she said her next step will be to present to the Student Activities board to get approval for the club to begin next spring. She hopes to spread the goals of CHAARG to the community of women on campus, whether they view themselves as an athlete to not, she said.
“CHAARG is to teach girls how to work out and how to just be healthy in their overall lifestyle,” Black said. “So even if you have no experience at all with any sports or athletics or anything like that, it’s very inclusive and supportive and it’s what you make of it.”
Rebecca Goldman, a sophomore interested in joining CHAARG, said she thought the club would be a good way to stop herself from making up excuses to not work out.
“It sounded like a really great way to kind of hold yourself accountable to working out,” Goldman said. “I also get so much more motivated when I’m working out with other people, like friends.”
Gabby Burnham is another sophomore interested in participating in CHAARG next spring. Burnham played soccer in high school and said that she missed the motivation of working out with her team.
“It’s just easier,” Burnham said. “It makes you have more fun when you’re working out, instead of being like ‘Oh my God, I cannot wait to get out of here.’”
Burnham also said she liked the idea of having a set schedule for the gym, as well as the opportunity to meet new groups of people. Burnham also said that CHAARG could serve as a sort of alternative to Greek life, because CHAARG allows the women to build a strong group connection but for a much smaller fee.
Black also emphasized that although working out is a big part of it, there is much more to CHAARG than just the gym. CHAARG is about building a positive community where the women can support each other in a healthy overall lifestyle, which includes having fun, Black said. In her experience, CHAARG and the bonds within the group reach outside the gym, from members having “Galentines Day” parties in February, to going on coffee dates.
“It’s really supposed to be like a bigger lifestyle,” Black said. “And it’s supposed to promote a positive mentality around campus.”