A new student organization focused on “liberating girls from the elliptical” has found a new home on campus this fall.
Samantha Rollins, a sophomore in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, started a GW chapter of CHAARG, a national all-girls workout and empowerment organization that stands for Changing Health, Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls. The national organization aims to get away from what they describe as the often stifling and judgmental climate of a gym and show that fitness can be creative and entertaining.
“We want girls to be able to go the weight room without being intimidated. There are always big, macho men in there lifting weights,” Rollins said. “Girls get turned off. We want to make an environment that’s a judge-free zone.”
Rollins said the issue of body image can be enough to scare many girls away from the gym.
“It’s hard for girls who are just getting out there and get in shape and go to the gym,” she said, “They don’t want people to judge them.”
Rollins plans to bring members to fitness studios across the District including SoulCycle, Jordin’s Paradise Dance & Fitness and 202strong for alternative workout classes like CrossFit, belly dancing, kickboxing and pole dancing.
Treasurer Tara O’Donnell, a freshman who ran track in high school, said working out for her usually consisted of a “boring” run, but CHAARG workouts will “obviously be more fun and creative.”
The new chapter has 10 studio classes planned for this semester on Monday nights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The classes will begin in a few weeks, the group’s leaders said.
Founded in 2012 at The Ohio State University, CHAARG now has more than 2,500 members and has expanded to two dozen campuses across the country including the University of Maryland, Indiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania State universities, according to its website.
Rollins said she wanted to bring the combination workout and empowerment group to GW after a friend from home started a chapter at Boston College last spring. Rollins, whose mother is a yoga instructor, said she grew up surrounded by fitness.
“I wanted something else for girls besides sororities and Greek life,” she said.
Rollins said she spent the summer calling local studios asking to host classes, finding six other members to form an executive board and promoting the new chapter on social media to friends and sororities.
The “GWU CHAARG” Facebook page earned over 400 likes and 60 girls already paid the $45 membership fee, Rollins said. Her goal is 100 members for the chapter’s first year.
The group is open to all fitness levels and no special physical ability is required, she said.
The chapter will become an official student organization next month, but its leaders have not yet decided if they will apply for funding from the Student Association this upcoming year. They will receive $5 per member from the national CHAARG organization, money that will go toward events Rollins wants to hold this year.
The group plans to hold a welcome party Monday and are planning to host ice cream parties or movie nights in the future, along with possible joint fitness events with fraternities or sports teams.
Rollins stressed that she didn’t want the group to be seen as a sorority or just a fitness group but also a confidence-building community group for girls across campus.
“When we go kickboxing, people will feel supported,” she said. “It’s going to get their egos up doing this workout they otherwise never would.”