Exposure – 10/10/2020 – TRANSCRIPT for MSU CHAARG


Connie Rahbany

Disclaimer: The contents of this interview do not reflect the values or represent the values of  WDBM The Impact.

Interview Transcript

Connie Rahbany: Hello, and welcome to Exposure. I’m your host, Connie Rahbany, and today I’m interviewing with Samantha Mikesell from MSU CHAARG. Thank you for joining me.

Samantha Mikesell: Thank you for having me, Connie.

Connie Rahbany: And can I have you introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about you?

Samantha Mikesell:  Yeah. So my name’s Samantha Mikesell. I am a senior this year studying supply chain management and I’ve been in CHAARG all four years of my college experience.

Connie Rahbany: So what is CHAARG and what can you tell me about it?

Samantha Mikesell: So CHAARG stands for changing health, attitudes and actions to recreate girls. And we’re a national organization with chapters across the country. Why I’m so lucky to have one at MSU And we pretty much meet weekly as a large group. We have about 300 members. Um, we work out together as a group every week. We have small groups for our members, which are a group of about five to six girls who also meet to work out every week. We also have socials, uh, other events and pretty much our like main goal as an organization is to mentally and physically empower women and all people on campus to be comfortable in their body and working out and kind of finding what they like in their fitness journey.

Connie Rahbany: So how long has MSU had a CHAARG chapter?

Samantha Mikesell: So MSU has had a CHAARG chapter since. I want to say 2015, um, CHAARG as a whole organization has been around since 2012, but MSU is one of their later chapters.

Connie Rahbany: And you talked about CHAARG’s overall goal, but is there a future goal that CHAARG is trying to achieve?

Samantha Mikesell: So right now with the black lives matter movement, we have really been striving to achieve a more diverse and equitable chapter. We’ve realized that we’re mainly a white straight group of women. And so, uh, something we’re working on in our future is to try and be available to all people, no matter what they identify with, um, their race, their gender, anything.

Connie Rahbany: And what is CHAARG doing to achieve those goals?

Samantha Mikesell: So within MSU, we have started a diversity and inclusion committee. Uh, something super exciting that we got to do this past week was a diversity and allyship panel. We had four panelists come and kind of talk about their experience with racism in America and ideas they had for us as an organization to kind of build a more diverse group of people and just be more welcoming, inclusive, all of that. Um, we’re also working towards volunteer work this year and we’ve been just spreading positive messages, as much as we can about diversity and inclusion and body image and everything, really.

Connie Rahbany: And on that note, who can get involved with CHAARG?

Samantha Mikesell:  So anyone can get involved with CHAARG now, which we’re super happy about. It used to be only for women, and now we accept anybody who identifies with CHAARG’s, mission. So. Males females, transgender, anything you can become involved as long as you’re a student at MSU an undergrad student.

Connie Rahbany: And you said you yourself have been with CHAARG for four years. What got you involved with CHAARG?

Samantha Mikesell: So my freshman year I had a suite-mate who became my best friend and she had joined CHAARG her. First semester of school. And I would watch her go at six in the morning to go work out with her small group. And I was like, okay, this is not the group for me. I can’t work out that early. Um, and then spring semester, she finally convinced me to go to a workout with her and. I walked into the door at Jenison, which is where we normally have our events when it’s not COVID. But, um, yeah, I walked in and just found an amazing group of girls. It was so welcoming and empowering and I didn’t look back.

Connie Rahbany: And how has CHAARG benefited you?

Samantha Mikesell: I would say that I’ve gained so many leadership skills and just like confidence overall from CHAARG. Like I used to hate public speaking. I was never really confident as a leader and CHAARG has really enabled me to develop those leadership skills a little bit more. Um I just have worked on public speaking a lot, just having to talk to the chapter as a group. Um, at first was overwhelming and now it’s just another task I have to do. I got confident as a leader because I had all of these amazing women looking up to me, which felt kind of weird at first. And then, I don’t know, it, it just really helped me out.

Connie Rahbany: And also from your experience, how have you seen this benefiting other people the most? Is it individually? Is it communal?

Samantha Mikesell:  So something we really like to push with CHAARG is that it’s just a big community. That’s striving to empower one another. So I would say it’s more communal. It’s just a way to make friends. It’s a way to kind of find your fitness, find what you like. It’s definitely something that if you go into, as an individual, without knowing anybody you’re going to come out of it with a bunch of friends, I know I’ve met some of my closest friends in CHAARG. I know a lot of people who their roommates are, people that they’ve met in CHAARG. So it’s definitely a really big community.

Connie Rahbany: And what does a typical week of involvement look like with CHAARG?

Samantha Mikesell: So for members, we have our weekly workouts on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM and they can also choose between Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday, small groups. And those are just an hour each. Uh, there’s also other activities that they can choose to do as a member as well. Uh, like our socials, those happen about once or twice a month. They’re all like an hour about, and then we started something new this year called bolt fans, uh, which is a really small group, about four to five girls. It’s just another way for girls to kind of meet people online because I know it’s really hard when freshmen can’t come back to campus. Uh, it’s a lot harder to meet people or if they are back on campus, they might not know anybody yet. So. That’s something else we started, uh, those meet biweekly. So overall it’s kind of something that you get to pick and choose, like not anything is required. So it can be like up to four hours a week, but as low as one hour a week,

Connie Rahbany: And you’ve said this term a couple of times so far, what is a CHAARG small group?

Samantha Mikesell: So a small group is a group of about five or six girls that work out together every week. So they’re led by a small group coordinator, which is one of our committee members. They are either a girl on exact or just applied for the small group committee. And they kind of lead their group and workouts every week, week. They don’t lead the workout, but they do the workout with the members. So it’s definitely a really inclusive environment. And then we also do socials in those once a semester. So it’s kind of a way to get to know your small group girls outside of a workout setting.

Connie Rahbany: And how are those small groups chosen?

Samantha Mikesell:   So pretty much we get bios and pictures from all of our small group coordinators. And the times that their small group is going to meet. And then two weeks into the semester, we send those out to the chapter and girls can kind of look to see who they would best fit with as a small group leader. And the times that work best for them. So it’s kind of up to our members to choose what small group they want to join, but they’re definitely one of the favorite parts of CHAARG from a lot of different people.

Connie Rahbany: And is there a deadline to join a group such as CHAARG?

Samantha Mikesell:  Nope. There is no deadline, which is super nice. Um, we do recommend buying your membership as soon as possible, like as close to the beginning of the semester as you can, because then you just get more bang for your buck. You get more workouts, um, but there’s no deadline to join. And if you were to join halfway through the semester, you could still join a small group, uh, be involved in all of our other activities as well.

Connie Rahbany: So how has CHAARG been impacted since the start of COVID-19 and how has it. changed?

Samantha Mikesell: CHAARG has changed a lot since our first quarantine in March. That week when everything shut down, we were planning for a big retreat on the West coast of the state. And we were super excited about that. Um, we had to cancel that we had to move all of our events to a online setting. So over zoom, we had to communicate with our instructors that that was going to be happening. And so, yeah, in the spring it was pretty much all over zoom, but it was kind of overwhelming. Like everybody was on different pages about what was happening. Uh, but I think this semester it’s a little more organized. Everything is run and everybody’s. Really excited to meet even if it is still over zoom. We’ve kind of adapted our workouts. So they’re more apartmemt friendly. You don’t need weights for them. And if we do meet with a studio virtually, they can still put their own little fun twist on it. So it seems like a different workout than what we do normally.

Connie Rahbany: You’re listening to WDBM East Lansing.  I’m Connie Rahbany, your host of Exposure. Today we’re talking to Samantha Mikesell from MSU CHAARG. And Samantha, is there anything that charge is doing right now that you’d like to share?

Samantha Mikesell: So right now Our national CHAARG organization is doing something super fun that’s open to everybody. No matter if you’re a member or not. It’s an at home studio workout pack. Um, so it’s. A month of workouts, all online. One is live over zoom every Friday. And so that’s something we’re really excited about because it’s a great way for people to meet girls at other chapters across CHAARG, um, people who might not be in a chapter at CHAARG, but are still wanting to get into fitness in some way, uh, change up their fitness routine. And so, yeah, we’re super excited for that to start in the middle of October.

Connie Rahbany: And then this past week was CHAARG birthday week. What can you tell me about that?

Samantha Mikesell: Yeah. So this past week CHAARG turned 8, which was so exciting. Um, the first charge chapter was founded at Kent state university in Ohio. And since then, it’s at over, I want to say 80 chapters  in the country now, which is so exciting. And so every year we get to see new chapters join, um, but this year it was super fun. We had a social this weekend. Just kind of celebrate our birthday and do some bullet journaling with our members. And as a national organization, they held 8 workouts throughout the week for us to kind of meet other girls and other chapters and work out with them as a whole organization. So that was a super fun celebration.

Connie Rahbany: Well, happy eighth birthday to CHAARG. Is there anything else going on right now that you’d like to touch on?

Samantha Mikesell: Well, memberships are still open. So if you’re interested in joining and you can just send me an email, if you want more information about the club, once you join, you immediately get added onto our membership list and we’ll start emailing you, everything you need to know about how to stay involved and get the most out of your membership.

Connie Rahbany: And how about looking ahead? Is there anything you have to look forward to at this time?

Samantha Mikesell:  Something we are really looking forward to this year is that we’re going to do a virtual retreat. I know it sounds kind of weird, but it’s going to be a two day event and we’re going to have a bunch of activities to do as a group on a Friday and Saturday, later in the fall. And we’re going to have like, um, like a sweat sesh, a rotation. So it’s going to be like three sweat sessions a day that we’re going to do as a group, um, journaling activities, cooking together, stuff like that. Just kind of strengthening the bond between our members and kind of getting them more excited about CHAARG as a whole.

Connie Rahbany: And you said CHAARG was normally like a hundred percent in person, is that correct?

Samantha Mikesell: Yeah, normally we would work out in Jenison every Wednesday for our weekly workouts. Um, used the indoor track, which was super fun. Um, all of our socials were in person, so we’re hoping that sometime soon we’ll be able to get back to that, but yeah, I think we’ve learned a lot being online. I think we’re still going to make sure we have live streams of our workouts if they are ever in person, just to be able to market to more people include more people as well.

Connie Rahbany: And I’m going to backtrack a little bit and ask you if you could describe your experience with CHAARG all in one word, what would it be and why?

Samantha Mikesell:  I would say my experience with CHAARG has been powerful. It’s such an amazing organization. I haven’t met a mean person in CHAARG. I haven’t met somebody that I didn’t like in CHAARG. Everybody is there to support you. No matter what your fitness level is. I know when I joined, I was not very active. Um, couldn’t really walk up the stairs without sweating a bunch, but yeah, everybody in CHAARG is just so nice and I have felt so empowered by them and that’s kind of why I got involved in leadership is because I wanted to give that back to new members make them feel empowered as well and give them a safe space on campus to kind of, you know, figure out what they want to do. Figure out how they want to stay active, but not really pushing them in any other way.

Connie Rahbany: And if there’s anybody listening to this right now that is interested or could benefit from CHAARG, what would you say to them?

Samantha Mikesell: I would tell them to email me right now. It’s [email protected]. I’m really good at replying. I’ll get back to you. You can check out our social media. I know if you are kind of interested in seeing what CHAARG is all about, our Instagram and Facebook do a really good job of showcasing our events and what we like to do, how we have fun and yeah, you’ll see some of the girls in CHAARG as well.

Connie Rahbany: All right. And is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Samantha Mikesell:  No, I don’t think so. Thank you so much.

Connie Rahbany:  Samantha, I want to thank you for speaking with me today about CHAARG.

Samantha Mikesell: Thank you. I appreciate it. It’s been an honor.