CHAARG is a nationwide organization of women that focuses on spreading motivation and empowerment to take control of your fitness plan. With over 50 chapters and 10,000 members across the country, one West Chester University sophomore thought WCU would be the next best place to bring this growing organization of women. Natalia Donahue—Natty for short—set this club in motion after hearing about it through mutual friends who had a chapter at their university. Although they are still in the process of being officially recognized by the Student Government Association, CHAARG has gained a rather large following on campus in a really short amount of time. Donahue, a current nutrition major and WCU’s official CHAARG ambassador, sat down with me to tell us more about their mission of liberating girls from the elliptical and what sets WCU’s chapter of CHAARG apart from the rest. Here are 5 things you need to know about our campus’s newest fitness club:
1. CHAARG is a Fitness Club About WAY More Than Weight
CHAARG is an acronym for changing health, attitudes and actions to recreate girls. This organization of women is largely passionate about the holistic approach to health and wellness rather than simply losing weight. One of their biggest goals is to instill the idea in women that they, too, are strong and confident—a message that is typically instilled in men from a young age, but not necessarily in women. “By exposing members to a new and exciting workout every week and giving them a huge support system of like-minded women, CHAARG allows girls to ‘find their fit’ in an environment that promotes positivity and acceptance instead of competition and comparison,” said Donahue. A number of club events and workouts help to establish a network of workout partners to help relinquish women from the anxiety and intimidation they feel at the gym.
2. Social Media Played a HUGE Role in the Creation of WCU’s Chapter
Taking it way back to the beginning, Donahue first got to know the organization by following them on Instagram after hearing from mutual friend’s in another school’s chapter down south. In early January of 2018, Donahue had hit a fitness wall and was in a major funk—her saving grace was an Instagram post announcing that the applications for new CHAARG ambassadors were now open. After submitting the application, which consisted of a video introducing herself and the campus along with a number of Skype interviews, WCU was selected to be in the final 10 universities that they would select to start a new chapter. Later that week, CHAARG took to Instagram again to announce that the university that racked up the most posts with #bringCHAARGtoWCUPA would automatically be selected to start a chapter. With Donahue’s persistent outreach, WCU won the contest. “We were competing with huge universities like Rutgers, University of Missouri, North Carolina State, and Boston University to name a few, and little old West Chester won!” said Donahue.
3. CHAARG Has Partnered with Another WCU Fitness Club While They Wait for Their Bylaws to be Approved
Donahue started the process of beginning WCU’s chapter back in January when she applied to be an ambassador through the national chapter of CHAARG. She’s met with Student Affairs on a number of occasions working toward becoming officially recognized by the university. After submitting the club’s bylaws, she is now just waiting for approval so she can present to the SGA Senate. Until then, CHAARG has merged with the Female Health and Fitness Club, another wellness club at WCU with similar values, so that they are able to work towards their goals while they are awaiting approval. “I’m so excited for this merge!” said Donahue.
4. Many Club Meetings Venture Off Campus and into the Community
The first time I was introduced to the ladies of CHAARG was at one of their studio spotlight events at a local self-defense studio in West Chester called Elite Krav Maga Training & Fitness. The executive team had partnered with this local organization to teach the group more about self-defense and empower these women to believe that they are strong enough to protect themselves. The event was bigger than anticipated and even had to hold a group training session outside in the parking lot to accommodate the large group. “This is actually such a good one for you to be at,” said Megan Silva, one of the club’s founding members, describing the turnout of their first official event. In addition to their first local studio spotlight, CHAARG has already hosted events this year, such as their Welcome Party, S’mores Night and Yoga on the Quad. This semester they plan on hosting football tailgates, a dine and donate at West Chester’s newest acai bowl spot, Bango Bowls, cooking demos with a member of the Nutrition Department’s faculty and a number of other local studio spotlights.
5. CHAARG Already Has a Whopping 190 Members
Even before Donahue had made the announcement for open applications and general membership she had to make cuts when it came to deciding her executive team back in April of 2018. She received over 30 applications for only six positions. Executive meetings began in May of 2018 with the goal of establishing a base of 50 members by the end of the semester. Their recruitment process this semester consisted of tabling on the Quad, handing out flyers and sliding information underneath doors in the dorm buildings. The earlier events like the S’mores night and Yoga on the Quad acted as sample events to get a better idea of what member turnout would look like once the club becomes officially recognized. So far, they are up to 190 and counting and have had large turnouts at their events thus far. Yoga in the Quad hosted over 85 women and S’mores Night hosted nearly 100.
Membership dues are $45 per semester. For more info, contact Natty Donahue at email@example.com or head to CHAARG.com and find WCU’s homepage.
Rachel Spurlock is the second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. RS874054@wcupa.edu