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Penn State’s CHAARG Redefines What Fitness Means To Women

In 2012, Elizabeth Tavierne was a student at Ohio State determined to stay connected to her passion for exercising, especially during her college years.

Not only was she a former swimmer set on finding a new routine, but she also had the drive to create a healthy fitness atmosphere, promote self-love, and break gym stigmas for women. This led her to the creation of “CHAARG” (Changing Health Attitudes and Actions to Re-create Girls).

With chapters on over 100 university campuses, each chapter’s mission is to empower girls in ways they have not been opened up to. More so, CHAARG’s goal is to prove that “fitness can, and should, be fun.” The organization promotes healthy routines for the body, mind, and soul.

Penn State’s CHAARG chapter originated in 2014. The organization continues to gather over 300 members. Whether you are a former athlete or a beginner, CHAARG is open to anyone determined to learn about physical, social, and mental health.

More in-depth, Penn State’s CHAARG teaches women different exercises to utilize at home and at the gym in an uplifting, positive manner. Each week, women are introduced to new ways of owning their fitness.

Penn State CHAARG ambassador Theresa Cwenar said that the organization is focused on the journey of “exposure to as many forms of physical activity as possible.”

If it were not a virtual semester, CHAARG would hold each workout and chapter social in person. Because each event is held over Zoom, Cwenar and her executive team have scheduled workouts from folks ranging from local instructors to any trainer throughout the United States.

“We have transitioned and embraced this virtual setting,” Cwenar said. “This isn’t something that holds us back.”

Each week is booked with different events, tending to each member’s schedules. From yoga to kickboxing to strength workouts, members can be apart of full-chapter and small group events.

Over the years (before virtual meetings), CHAARG would organize full group events. This Mount Nittany hike is an example of a full group activity during past semesters.

Small groups were created to make this large Penn State group feel inclusive, connected, and bonded. CHAARG focuses on “whole body-health,” meaning small groups and their (virtual) socials help focus on the mental and social health of members.

No matter the unique event, members boost each other’s confidence to exude a positive environment. Each member is guided on their overall wellbeing timeline. Balance is their key element.

“Some members who have joined have never stepped foot in a gym,” Cwenar said. “We are all about accepting each other for our own fitness journeys. Everyone supports each other no matter what.”

VP Membership Chair Danielle Straub joined CHAARG four years ago as a former athlete and soon viewed it as her “home away from home.” Becoming a part of the executive team and helping the small group coordinators create events is something she will never forget.

“CHAARG has positively impacted my life in so many different ways,” Straub said. “It is such an amazing experience to give back to the organization that gave me so much.”

For Event Coordinator Kelly Ryan, CHAARG has been her constant since the moment she stepped on campus. She has latched onto this organization because of its “special and inspiring community.”

Ryan said that before CHAARG, she had never been to a gym or had a workout routine.

“This group gave me a passion for fitness and wellness that I didn’t have coming into college,” Ryan said. “It is such an uplifting and encouraging community that inspires every member to be the best versions of themselves.”

Member Madison Borkovich had a very interesting start to CHAARG, which is a testament to its outreach. She said she’s an extremely busy and involved student with little time on her hands, and it wasn’t until she joined this organization that her well-being became a priority.

Borkovich has always put helping others first. She was hesitant to join because she feared judgment but remembered that it was time to invest in herself. As she got more involved, she learned that judgment had no place in CHAARG.

“From the minute I started, it has been the best thing to happen to me,” Borkovich said. “[CHAARG] has given me not only friends but role models to look up to.”

Borkovich is now determined to redistribute the love and confidence she has gained to new members since joining. Even though she is living off campus this semester, she is still moved that CHAARG includes members individually.

“Empowering others, supporting people, showing up to the events, and being present leads you to this family,” Borokovish said.

Whether attending an event on how to use weights or a body positivity seminar, CHAARG is the place to be “loved and celebrated just as you are.”

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About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Pirates fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her at: [email protected]

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