After going through a gut-wrenching breakup a year ago, Nandi Sparrock got out of bed and decided she was going to turn her unhappiness into something productive.
Scrolling through Instagram one day, Sparrock came across a fitness organization called CHAARG that promotes healthy lifestyles for young women.
CHAARG — Changing Health, Attitudes + Actions to Recreate Girls — had chapters at dozens of universities around the country but none at MU.
Until Sparrock decided to start one.
CHAARG is an organization based in Chicago with about 100,000 members nationwide. Founded in 2012, its stated mission is “liberating girls from the elliptical.”
Sparrock spent three months establishing a CHAARG chapter on campus. She had to submit an essay and a video, and she also needed 100 signatures to demonstrate interest on campus.
For days, Sparrock stood in Speakers Circle asking women who walked by to sign her petition. She finally gathered enough signatures, and a CHAARG chapter was approved for MU in March.
After nine months, the chapter has more than 50 members plus an executive team of seven.
It’s more than just a workout group, Sparrock insists.
“CHAARG really does change lives,” she said. “It’s not just about eating healthy 24/7. It’s about loving your body.”
Every week, members meet for a group workout session called “studio spotlights.” These workouts are a chance for women to experience rock climbing and other endeavors that involve more than simply running on the treadmill.
The chapter also splits into small groups, usually of between five and 10 women, who hold weekly meetings to discuss their fitness journeys, catch up on the week’s progress and form friendships with other members.
The small group meetings have a weekly theme. During rock climbing, for example, the theme was adventure, and each group could do something out of their comfort zone to embrace the theme. The chapter also hosts daytime retreats, movie nights and other nonfitness social events.
Members can also hold leadership positions, either as an executive officer or a small group coordinator.
CHAARG members pay a $45 fee each semester to cover weekly workouts, meetings and the social events.
“CHAARG has really gotten me to believe in myself a lot more and realize that I’m capable of doing a lot more than I think,” Sparrock said. “It helped me get over the fear of failure.”
Sarah Noble, a chapter member, said she did not expect CHAARG to have as much of an impact on her life as it did.
“I have created friendships that I didn’t think I was going to make and have done things I never thought I would do,” Noble said. “I don’t think I could have done or created these experiences without CHAARG.”
Brittney Herrmann, another member, shared a similar experience.
“What surprised me the most when I joined CHAARG were the opportunities,” Herrmann said. “Going to a different location every week to try various workouts is something I’ve never experienced before. It’s a great way to learn what workouts work for you but also to push yourself to limits you didn’t even think were possible.”
Herrmann said the “arms-open” feeling CHAARG provides makes the chapter special.
CHAARG is currently accepting applications for its executive team and new members. To join the chapter or for more information, visit its website at chaarg.com/university-of-missouri.