I’m incredibly excited to welcome CHAARG Founder Elisabeth Tavierne to EC.com today for Q&A. CHAARG is a fitness community for women that’s taken college campuses by storm. I wish there had been a CHAARG chapter on my campus when I was in college. So many of the organization’s beliefs about fitness match up with mine. Hey, Elon University, go put in an application!
Tell me about yourself–where you’re from, what school you attended, your degree.
I’m from Chicago, but was born in Australia — my favorite fun fact to tell : ) I attended The Ohio State University + majored in Exercise Science.
What does CHAARG stand for? Why did you decide to found the organization?
CHAARG stands for Changing Health, Attitudes + Actions to Recreate Girls — it is an organization for college aged women that aims to ignite a passion for health + fitness.
Why the focus on college women only? What benefits can a woman get from joining?
I started CHAARG with the mission of liberating girls from the elliptical. In college, I saw such a division in the gym — guys in the weight room, girls on the elliptical//treadmill. Not saying that you can’t get a good workout from the elliptical, but they just didn’t look like they were having fun! I am a big believer that fitness can + SHOULD be fun.
Every week, our Chapters partner with a local health + fitness studio + teach our girls a different workout. We’ve done everything from Zumba to Pure Barre to CrossFit to Salsa dancing. We give girls opportunities to try a workout that they probably would have never tried before + hopefully find their fit. In addition, as a member of CHAARG, you are embraced by 2500+ women from across the nation — the most supportive, inspiring + empowering women I have ever met.
How many CHAARG chapters are there, and what’s your “dream big” goal for expansion?
Currently at 14 universities + just announced our next Chapters that we will establish in Jan ’15 — Boston College, Michigan State University, Penn State University + Bowling Green State University. Ultimately, I want to expand to every university in the US — if not the world. #CHAARGgoesglobal
How can a woman bring a CHAARG chapter to her school? What’s virtual membership?
We have two time periods in which applications are accepted [spring + fall]. It’s a three step application process + if selected, the Ambassador [essentially the “president” of the CHAARG Chapter] goes through a 6 week training period, where she learns all the ins + outs of establishing a CHAARG Chapter. It’s a pretty extensive process!
We started a Virtual Chapter last January as a way for girls who have graduated or do not have a CHAARG Chapter at their university [yet!] to connect + be a part of the CHAARG community. Although they do not have the benefits of weekly events + an “in person” community, it’s been amazing to see the overwhelming positive support that the girls have for each other — just look at the hashtag #inCHAARG or #CHAARGFitPlan on instagram [a virtual workout plan we are doing together] + you’ll instantly feel it, too.
What event/programming opportunities does CHAARG offer?
The national events that we plan on a yearly basis are — runCHAARG + FitPlan + FITionista Parties + Retreats. Read in detail about all the events here. We love partnering with local//national health + fitness companies. Just as we give girls opportunities to try out different types of workouts, we love showing girls different fit gear + healthy products.
How does social media enhance the CHAARG experience and build a national community?
Ah! Without social media, there is absolutely no way CHAARG would be where it is today. I’ve always known that social media is powerful — but, I never really knew truly how powerful it was until starting CHAARG. Social media is the reason girls are able to feel the national community. An OSU CHAARG girl can easily connect + feel supported by an LSU CHAARG girl — it’s so amazing! Also, our Instagram is how many people initially find out about CHAARG, so social media has helped so much in spreading the word about CHAARG.
How do you maintain healthy balance in your life?
What’s balance ; )? Luckily, I’m not in school anymore [graduated May ’13] + work full time for CHAARG. It’s true, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s an amazing feeling to be able to say that I love my “job.” It sounds weird to even call it my job — it’s my life.
All images via CHAARG