How to Find Your Fit in College: An Interview with the Ambassador of UMass CHAARG

College is a time when things are constantly changing. You’re forced to find a brand new group of friends, keep up to pace on your studies, and make sure you have time for a vibrant social life. While all of these things are important, there’s one thing we cannot forget about: our fitness. Let’s just say, it’s not easy to stay fit when your dining hall is packed with desserts, your gym is always crowded, and you're struggling to find a group of friends to workout with.

Elisabeth Tavierne noticed this during her time as a student at Ohio State University. In 2012 she decided to start CHAARG, a health and wellness organization for young women in college. Since its founding, CHAARG has moved across the country to college campuses everywhere, impacting the lives of over 10,000+ girls.

UMass Amherst welcomed CHAARG to its campus in Spring of 2017, and now over 150 girls call UMass CHAARG their home (including myself!) CHAARG is the reason dozens of girls have made lifelong college friends and found their self confidence through trying new workouts! In order for potential new members to learn a bit more about CHAARG before the upcoming school year kicks off, I sat down with the UMass Amherst CHAARG Ambassador, Taylor Beane, to ask her a few questions on what UMass CHAARG is all about, how it’s impacted her as a person, and what new members can expect when joining.

HC: What is CHAARG and what does it stand for?

Taylor: CHAARG stands for Changing Health Attitudes + Actions to Recreate Girls! CHAARG is a national organization founded at over 60+ schools in the country that aims to empower women through fitness and wellness.  

 

HC: Can you tell us your story about how you joined CHAARG?

Taylor: I came from a large high school and had no problem making friends even within a large community. However, I was a three season athlete and always found most of my friends within those teams. I didn't plan to continue gymnastics or crew in college and didn't want to be too involved in anything else because I thought I wanted some free time for change. The *free time* was not good for me. The excess amount of time turned into extreme homesickness. I wasn’t much of a 'going out on the weeknd's' type person and missed the movie nights with ice cream and friends. I submitted an application to UMass Lowell and basically decided that if I got in, I would go home. One good thing this excess time gave me was an opportunity to find my love of fitness.

The group fitness classes at Campus Recreation soon became my home. The instructors expected me to be there and I finally felt like someone cared if I showed up or not. Shortly after diving into this love, I saw a Facebook post on the UMass Class of 2020 Facebook group, and it was about CHAARG. I read it and thought hmm, well this could be cool. I applied for an executive position as a freshman and really didn’t expect to get it. I was still awaiting my acceptance status from Umass Lowell when I got an email from Julia Shaughnessy (the founding ambassador at UMass CHAARG) telling me I had an interview. This was the first moment I felt important again, like someone expected something of me. After my interview I was offered the position (took it of course) and served as the event coordinator for 1.5 years. Julia completely changed my college experience and I can never thank her enough for giving me a home on a campus so large. She believed in my when I didn't believe in myself and she is the reason I stayed at UMass Amherst.

 

HC: What are some of the things girls can expect if they join?

Taylor: Some of the things girls can expect from joining CHAARG are new experiences! Every Monday from 6-8pm (and some Sundays) we have a weekly workout with a partnering studio in the area. These workouts range from Crossfit to Circus classes to HIIT based workouts and more! Another aspect of CHAARG is our weekly small groups. A small group is a group of girls that meet up every week at the same time and truly get to connect throughout the semester. These meet ups are usually workouts but can be smoothies & homework, basketball games at the Campus Recreation or girl time with face masks & crafts! Lastly, we have socials that are planned throughout the semester. These socials include events such as tie-dying shirts, brunches, paint nights and just recently we had our first ever formal with 200 people!

HC: What would you say to girls who may feel insecure about their fitness level? Is CHAARG just all about fitness?

Taylor: CHAARG is WAY more than a fitness group. In fact, most members join CHAARG in search of friendships and a community. Fitness is a part of CHAARG, but it is not entirely what we're about. We love to sweat, but more importantly, we love to sweat *with* others. Our instructors that we work with understand that CHAARG is full of girls of all fitness levels and they are so awesome about giving modifications to exercises. Plus you will have a group of non-judgemental girls supporting you every step of the way! Every girl in the chapter had to start somewhere so I wouldn’t let that hold you back!

 

HC: What is your favorite memory since joining UMass CHAARG?

Taylor: My favorite memory since joining CHAARG is when we went to a barre and pole dancing class. I was pushed WAY outside of my comfort zone and put in such a vulnerable spot. But things where you take chances often have the biggest awards. I walked out of the class 100% feeling myself and it was just so fun to have girls all hyping eachother up.

HC: What would you tell a girl who’s on the fence about joining?

Taylor: Just do it! Just take a chance, step outside of your comfort zone and sign up. CHAARG gives something different to everyone and you don't want to miss out on what it has in store for you! We’re here for you to help you get over the fence and to help you find your fit with in our chapter. CHAARG gives girls so much more than fun workouts. It gives you a community and a purpose on a big campus.

 

HC: How has being the ambassador for UMass CHAARG changed your college experience and what opportunities has it opened for you?

Taylor: Being the Ambassador for UMass CHAARG has helped me grow as a leader and a person. Before being the Ambassador I was shy, very afraid to speak up for myself and TERRIFIED of public speaking. As the Ambassador, I am pushed outside of my comfort zone almost daily. I now am able to speak in front of 100 girls without question. I am not afraid to ask questions and inquire about new things for the chapter when they come up. I have met SO many amazing people from CHAARG. I have met my best friends, my roommates and my future bridesmaids. If it was not for UMass CHAARG, I would not be the person that I am today. I would be a timid freshman at Umass Lowell.

For more information on joining CHAARG at your school or bringing a CHAARG chapter to your campus, check out www.chaarg.com.

Check out UMass CHAARG on instagram @umass_chaarg

 

Images: 1 (courtesy of Taylor Beane) 2,3,4 (courtesy of UMass Amherst CHAARG)