UMass CHAARG works remotely to keep its members positive and active during COVID-19

230 girls take the norms of females in the gym industry and flip it on its head


From “inCHAARG” Instagram accounts, to virtually-led workouts by instructors all over the nation, CHAARG gives girls a community to stay positive and active during a remote semester.

CHAARG, Changing Health Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls, is a national organization at over 90 colleges in the United States. Their mission is to “ignite a passion for movement in college women and liberate girls from the elliptical,” encouraging a healthy and happy lifestyle. When the organization officially began at UMass in Spring of 2017, it had about 100 members. Today, UMass CHAARG has over 230 members and is thriving in a virtual community. 

Girls can sign up for virtual group fit classes every Monday and on some Sundays. In pre-COVID times, CHAARG girls would have the option to go to studios in the Amherst/ Hadley area or workout with an instructor in the Boyden Gymnasium on-campus. Small groups consist of about four to seven girls that workout together once a week and follow a small group leader who puts together their workouts. During remote learning, small groups are going on virtually with two to four girls in each group. 

This semester, the organization created “virtual communities” for girls with similar interests to get together online. Some of these virtual communities include a cooking group, bullet-journaling group, and Bachelorette-viewing group. The organization also holds virtual socials almost weekly. 

Senior Haley Diman has been involved in CHAARG for three years now and is the current Ambassador. She has also been the secretary for the last year-and-half. When Diman joined the newly-founded club in 2017, she was looking to be held accountable for two workouts a week, make friends, and try new workouts.

Not only has the membership blossomed at CHAARG since she joined, but the community has too. Over the past few years, more girls have been using their “inCHAARG” Instagram accounts, which are Instagram accounts that are used to create a visual fitness journey. These Instagram accounts are the biggest part of the chapter because it allows girls to connect with each other all over the U.S. 

In times like these, Diman’s goal for the club is to keep members engaged, give the best chapter experience as possible, and be a part of the inCHAARG Instagram community as much as possible. Though girls cannot connect in person  due to COVID-19, there are many opportunities to meet people virtually, including through online socials and virtual communities. 

“With UMass’ toxic body culture, CHAARG helped me find confidence, friends, and my voice,” Diman said. Because of CHAARG, her mindset changed to being actually healthy. This transformation enabled her to accept herself and she wants to give other girls this opportunity.

Junior Lucy Powers has been in CHAARG for four semesters and is the Vice President of Membership. She joined CHAARG after a rough first semester of college to make friends and be more active. 

Powers’ favorite part about the organization was small groups because she got to meet new people and learn new workouts. Her biggest challenge as Vice President working remotely has been recruitment.

“I am very friendly, and not seeing people in person is hard and takes a lot on me mentally,” Powers said.

Powers direct-messaged hundreds of girls on Instagram and planned a week of recruitment events called “CHAARG up” to gage new members. About 100 new members joined after participating in CHAARG up events. 

A challenge for Powers has been not being able to physically workout with other members; she misses being in a room with everyone for weekly workouts and seeing how her work has paid off. She said that she is a “physical person” and wishes she could give each member a hug, especially during these times.

She added that CHAARG is special to her because “ 230 girls take the norms of females in the gym industry and flip it on its head” and that she is thankful to be a part of such an empowering community. Moreover, she said that CHAARG is not just for girls because “being healthy, living a healthy lifestyle, and being around supportive people is for any gender” and that this is a global message. Because of this, CHAARG is open to any person that aligns with their mission.

Sophomore Sarah Balian is in her third semester of CHAARG and is active in the Membership Committee. She said that CHAARG has helped her find friends and acted as a link to social contact with UMass students during remote classes. While living at home for the semester, she said that “the community helps rise me up during these very difficult times.”

The CHAARG community constantly pushes her out of her comfort zone. This past weekend, Balian ran a 5K for Meghan’s Light, an annual philanthropic event for cystic fibrosis. She chose to be a small group leader when she found out the organization would be virtual this semester which has helped her become more involved in the chapter.

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