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Fitness Clubs Seek to Broaden Women's Workout Horizons

Jason Scott

In college recreation centers and gyms across the country, women seem to mostly stick to the cardio equipment, rarely straying into other areas. But fitness clubs springing up on college campus are hoping to broaden women's workout horizons and get them off the elliptical and into other activities.

"Not that the elliptical or treadmill are bad, but the girls looked so unhappy," Elisabeth Tavierne, founder of CHAARG (Changing Health, Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls), told the Chicago Tribune. She created the first chapter of the fitness club at Ohio State University four years ago. Now, the club has chapters at 45 different schools, and more than 7,000 members.

The club works with local studios and allows members to try out different workouts and experience classes like Turbo Kick, CrossFit, Tae Bo or Zumba in a supportive, judgement-free environment.

Each CHAARG chapter is led by an executive group, which organizes off-campus activities within the community. Membership costs $45 a semester, which is less expensive than taking individual classes weekly.

Chapters tend to have more than 100 members, says Tavierne, but groups are divided into smaller groups to encourage members to get to know one another. In addition to fitness classes, CHAARG groups host other events focused on wellness, like cooking lessons, nutrition workshops, or even self-defense classes.

Tavierne told the Tribune that what’s most important is providing an encouraging and positive environment for women to experiment with different workouts.

“We’re all laughing together as we’re trying new things, and that really helps girls ease their nerves and just go for it, knowing that no one is judging you,” she said.

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