Here at Northeastern there are hundreds of great student organizations to get involved in! We want to highlight some organizations that you may not know, so we’re interviewing members of student organizations to learn a little bit about them and what their club is about. Tune in every week for a new post from The Club Chronicle!
The Club Chronicle Interview #27: CHAARG
This interview was conducted on January 16th 2020
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and CHAARG?
My name is Avery, I’m a second year from the Bay Area. I’m from Oakland, so I traveled a long way to come here. I’m a criminal justice and psychology major but I’m currently on co-op at Reebok. I do a lot with the community outreach they do around fitness. So a little bit about CHAARG, it’s a national organization that stands for changing health attitudes and actions to recreate girls. Their whole goal is to feel empowerment through fitness. In order to do that they have a bunch of different chapters at universities. I founded the Northeastern chapter last semester, so we’re a relatively new club. But even though we’re new last semester we had 157 members which is really wonderful. To promote the mission of female empowerment through fitness we hold weekly workouts. We partner with different studios like 305 fitness, core power equinox, stuff like that and we go to their studios. These girls with their membership fee get access to the studios for weekly workout. We also do small group workouts that provide that community feel that we want to cultivate and we do social events as well. We’re actually having a formal this semester which should be fun.
I’ve never heard of this organization, it sounds very interesting.
My freshman year I was looking for a community so I joined Greek life. I was in a sorority and then I disaffiliated by the end of the year because that wasn’t the kind of community I wanted. The good thing about CHAARG is I’ve been able to make a community on campus of girls that are all really passionate about health and wellness. It’s a really nice mixture of girls, you get girls who run marathons and you get girls who never go to the gym. It’s a diverse mix of people which I really like.
You talked about the weekly workout, is that a set time? How do people get to go to those?
Weekly workouts are typically scheduled Wednesdays anytime after 6pm because we want to be co-op friendly. All of our events are co-op friendly so they start after 6pm or are on the weekends. To go to the workouts, since we’re a national organization you buy your membership online on their website. It’s only $52 a semester and with that you get access to all that stuff. The only additional fees are Ubers to get there, or for Back Bay Boxing it’s $5 for a hand wrap if you don’t have your own, so it’s very little cost in addition to our membership fee. That’s bought on the national website chaarg.com. After that we get an email saying we have a new member, we send you all of our information and you get a weekly newsletter every Sunday by 10pm with all of the links you need for every week.
Other than weekly workouts do you have other types of meetings?
There are no mandatory meetings because we want you to be able to build it around your schedule. Fitness isn’t something you should stress about going to, it’s something you should enjoy and want to do. We do have small groups that meet, there’s about 10 different small group times, and those are lead by an executive member or small group coordinator. That’s a time for 8 girls to do a workout or go get dinner or something at the same time every week. Once you commit to that it is mandatory but it’s optional to sign up. It’s a way to cultivate that community. We also have social events. Last semester we went apple picking, this semester we have a speed dating social, a galentines day brunch, a formal like I mentioned. We really try to get girls into fitness but also have that social aspect because that’s another important facet of CHAARG.
CHAARG members at a weekly workout at Equinox
What was your favorite moment from the past couple of months of being in charge of CHAARG?
It was from the end of last semester. Going into this, I applied in April of my freshman year to bring this to campus. I didn’t think they would pick me, but by some miracle they wanted to come to Northeastern. Going into fall I had no clue what to expect. I didn’t know how many members we would have, if anyone would like it, I had never seen a CHAARG chapter in action. I work about 30 hours a week on this. It’s a lot of my time and energy. Sometimes last semester I felt beat down, I take things personally if something goes wrong. I have an amazing executive team, but at the end of the day it’s my face on the organization. But with all that hard work comes a lot of enjoyment from the members. That was a long explanation to get to the best part of all this. At the end of the year during our final social a member came up to me and was kind of teary eyed. I asked her what was wrong and she said I’m so grateful for this. She said before this I didn’t want to get out of bed, I had no motivation, and this community has brought me out of my shell and made me more confident and I’m so grateful that you did this. I started crying. And it made it all worth it. There’s so many stories like that. So many girls have been impacted positively by what we do and who we are. Now they are looking for leadership positions in the community. It really is rewarding to see how members react to it and what they get out of it.
You talked about your executive team, what does the process of applying look like?
So our process was a little different because we were a founding chapter. So since I founded it, I wrote the applications and they sent applications to me. I read through them and selected people for interviews. And I interviewed them, I actually did it on dialogue in Italy so it was around 2am when I was doing this. Then they went through a training program online, the national chapter has different trainings. That was different from what it will be like by the end of this semester when we select for next year. You will submit an application to an election committee, which is made up of girls who are not applying for positions. You apply and interview with them then that’s sent to nationals and they have to approve who you pick. That will be different, I won’t be involved with that because I’m planning on running for ambassador again. There are 6 positions other than mine.
Do you have any social media students can follow CHAARG on?
We do. The main one is Nu.inchaarg on Instagram. We all have our own personal inchaarg Instagrams. It’s part of the national community, a lot of girls have an inchaarg instagram which is their name.inchaarg. So all of our executives and a lot of our members have that as well. So if someone wants to see the member side of things they can check that out.
You said you had 157 members last semester, is there a similar level of involvement this semester?
We’re still in our second week of recruitment, we’re almost done. Currently we have about 130 members. I’m assuming we’ll get around 150 as well. We have a lot of NUin kids coming in, which is great, I’m excited for that. We have about a 60% retention rate.
CHAARG members at an apple picking social event
What does recruitment look like?
When we say recruitment people oftentimes think of a sorority recruitment, but it’s nothing like that. One of CHAARG’s core values is inclusiveness. So anyone who wants to join can join. There’s no ‘we’re too full’ or ‘you don’t fit the criteria’. If you want to join you’re in, you just have to pay the membership fee. Our recruitment is basically just us spreading the word about who we are. We’ll table, we’ll flyer, basically we’re trying to spread the word because we’re fairly new and not a lot of people know who we are.
Is there a set period for recruitment then a time where you get started on weekly programming?
Recruitment technically ends on the 19th, but you can purchase membership through the 26th and still have access to all of our events and small groups. We do have our first event on Tuesday it’s our meet the exec workout. Members are welcome to join any time in the next week and a half. They can shoot me an email if they have questions. This is a soft deadline, we want people to have access to as many things as possible. You can join up to a month after.
What is your favorite part about being Ambassador of CHAARG?
So I don’t get the member experience as much, I see behind the scenes, what goes wrong and what goes right. But I think my favorite part has been creating relationships with niche studios. We work with a couple of big corporation studios but we also work with a lot of smaller studios around Boston that are more local. That has been a great part of what we do because I’ve been exposed to different types of fitness. Yesterday we went to Heartbreak Hill Running Company. I hate running, I don’t run ever, but it was really fun. I’ve never done a running class I didn’t even know that was a thing. There’s all these different types of fitness and I used to isolate myself to sort of one thing. So that’s been my favorite part is exposing myself and others to these different studios and creating partnerships with them.
What’s one thing you wished people knew about CHAARG?
I think when people see what CHAARG is, an all female group, chapter based, the language we use kind of mirrors sorority language but it’s not at all like Greek life. Not that Greek life is a bad thing, I support that and think it can be great for some people, but for some people it’s not. I want to get the message across that CHAARG isn’t like Greek life besides the structure on paper. We don’t have mandatory meanings, it’s fairly cheap compared to Greek life, we’re not exclusive, and we pride ourselves on diversity and inclusion. We really have a constructive community everyone is there to achieve their goals and support each other. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s true. Everyone I’ve met is so wonderful. I think some girls are intimidated by this but they shouldn’t be. People think ‘oh it’s a fitness organization I have to be in shape’ but like I said earlier we have people who never work out and we have people who run marathons and so many people in between. The point of CHAARG is finding what works for you and your body and your health. If that’s going to the gym twice a week, doing yoga before you go to bed, that’s great, we want to help you with that. We don’t want to turn you into a cross fitter or something.