Students who walk through Tupper at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays may be surprised to see a fitness group meeting, but for OU CHAARG members, it’s a normal occurrence. CHAARG is a national organization founded in 2012 at Ohio State University to unite women and make working out fun. CHAARG stands for Changing Health, Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls.
The organization’s national website hosts a blog that frequently posts stories focusing on fitness tips, mental health, recipes and college advice which are mostly written by current members. The organization also has a podcast focusing on similar topics of wellness and fitness.
“It's like an empowering organization,” said CHAARG ambassador Lydia Gehr, a senior studying dance and global studies. “Kind of being comfortable in the gym and not being intimidated … (and) just finding a healthy and happy lifestyle.”
The workouts differ from week to week, but members can expect anything from cardio dance to self-defense. CHAARG also hosts several socials for members to be able to hang out with each other. Memberships are just under $50 a semester, but students can join at any point. Memberships must be purchased before attending events and can be done so through their website.
“My favorite workout is called pound,” said event coordinator Lauren Johnson, a sophomore studying applied nutrition. “It's basically a workout with sticks. You are on the ground a lot and you hit the ground with the sticks, and it makes you work but it's so worth it in the end.”
The event coordinators meet together to send emails to fitness professionals in surrounding areas, such as Columbus and Cincinnati, to come to a Tuesday meeting to host a workout session. Socials are meetings that are not workouts and can help members take their minds off of stress and help the group bond.
“They're usually about an hour and a half and really it’s just like for people to kind of come together and hang out and get to know each other more and not be sweaty,” said Gehr.
When Gehr joined her freshman year, there were over 100 members but due to COVID-19 membership has shrunk to about 50.
Anna Richcreek, a sophomore studying acting,• joined the group because she wanted to feel comfortable working out.
“I always feel welcome here and it's a completely non-judgmental zone,” said Richcreek. “I just feel better by the end of it, no matter what we're doing.”
Her original motivations had to do with how she perceived her body, and she was immediately attracted to the organization’s mission as a whole of uplifting and empowering women.
“I really wanted to improve the way I look at my body and feel in my body,” she said. “I heard that CHAARG is about uplifting and empowering women, and at the gym I don’t always feel comfortable to just be myself, and so I love coming here and just working on myself physically as well as mentally.”