Talking with Student Tastemaker Kelsey Cassidy

Cassidy, a CHAARG ambassador, is on a mission to empower women in the gym.

By Anne Ertle, John Carroll University

Cassidy, a junior at Ohio State studying Management Information Systems, is an ambassador for Changing Health, Attitudes, + Actions to Recreate Girls (CHAARG).

The student-created program hopes to change perceptions of how women “should” exercise.

Anne Ertle: What is CHAARG?

Kelsey Cassidy: CHAARG is a movement of girls aiming to live a life that is fulfilling, healthy and happy, not just a workout group.

While we do love a good sweat sesh, I think I speak for every CHAARG girl when I say that it’s the community that makes CHAARG what it is. This movement is full of inspiring women who lift each other up in a world that wants to tear each other down.

Kelsey Cassidy CHAARG

AE: How did CHAARG start?

KC: CHAARG was founded by Elisabeth Tavierne, at Ohio State in 2012 when she noticed a major divide: guys in the weight room and girls on the elliptical.

She felt it was time to change the game and expand what being healthy and happy could look like for college-aged women. Sarah Clem was the first Ambassador to expand it to another university, University of Cincinnati, and from there it has spread like wildfire.

AE:What does “healthy” mean to you?

KC: One of the biggest things I’ve learned from CHAARG is that healthy should not be based on appearance, weight or size. To me, being healthy is not only fueling my body with the nutrients it needs to live life fully, but also focusing on what I’m doing physically and mentally to make myself happy.

It’s about balance—create a routine of eating nutritious food as much as possible, but if someone offers you ice cream, never turn it down.

AE: What’s your favorite work out that you discovered because of CHAARG?

KC: Right now I’m obsessed with cycling.

AE: What have you learned from the CHAARG community? 

KC: This community teaches me so much about confidence and positivity. Even though we’re all at different places in our health and fitness journeys, we all have the same goal: to be the best versions of ourselves. It’s amazing to see girls encourage one another every step of the way.

AE: Do you have a favorite “nutritious” food?

KC: I love baked sweet potato french fries!! Add a little rosemary and sea salt, and bon appétit!

AE: How have you seen yourself or other people grow because of CHAARG?

KC: Since joining CHAARG I have a completely different perspective on the benefits of working out. Before joining, exercise was an obligation and a way to lose weight. I never thought that I would voluntarily set my alarm before 6am to get to my favorite instructor’s class, but I love the endorphins and confidence that fitness gives me to own my days. Because of CHAARG, I am confident in the fact that I don’t have to be a certain size or weight to be happy.

AE: What advice would you have for people who are looking to get fit—or even just improve their health?

KC: Set goals: It’s so important to know what you’re working for—have a specific goal that you can use to measure your progress and ultimately make you commit to working hard.

Grab a Friend (or 5): Statistics show that your chances of sticking to your goals double when you have an accountability partner. Knowing that someone is counting on you to show up will help you fight that voice in your head when your alarm clock rings.

Find something that makes you happy: If you’re trying to eat healthy but hate salads, try new recipes that you’ll enjoy rather than making your nutrition taste like a punishment. In addition, if you hate running, try boxing or cycling or yoga or even rowing. Go find something that you enjoy—fitness can and should be fun.

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