Whenever I’m home in Pittsburgh it is common for people to ask “What is that CHAARG thing you’re always posting about? Did you start that?” + my response is forever the same — I smile + say “No, I did not, but the most incredible person I’ve ever met did.” This week’s Member Monday is perhaps the most special to date because it highlights that girl — the girl who started it all. The girl who had a vision of spreading a passion for health + fitness to young women, the girl who refused to give up no matter what life threw at her, + most importantly, the girl who became my personal hero. She’s the face of CHAARG [a really beautiful one in fact] + I think one quote sums her up perfectly — *Act like a lady, think like a boss.* So without further introduction, here’s the story of the CHAARG founder, Miss Elisabeth Tavierne…
Many people ask me about how I grew to love health + fitness, as well as how I started working out after my swimming career ended. Sometimes people are even shocked to know that I used to swim at the collegiate level because I don’t talk about it too much. For those who don’t know my fitness journey — my journey that led me to start CHAARG — here it is:
I have been involved in athletics my entire life, + I’m talking competitively. When I was younger, I tried all different kinds of sports: gymnastics, volleyball, cross country, ice-skating, you name it. Now don’t get me wrong, I liked those sports, but I found a passion in swimming. When I was as young as 10 years old I already had a thick goal book of all the things I wanted to achieve in swimming. I was at the point of obsession. It sounds crazy looking back, but I was just a kid in love with a sport. I had a dream + I wanted to achieve it — a national time. I remember telling my mom my plan was to get a state cut, then a zone cut, then a national cut, she looked at me + just smiled, not thinking that a small 9 year old knew exactly what she wanted. At age 12 I completed that goal. Age 12! Swimming not only taught me the sacrifices necessary to achieve my goals, but also time commitment, the power of will, how to deal with roadblocks, + that eventually hard work will pay off in the end.
I couldn’t even imagine the possibility of not swimming in college. After going on recruiting trips, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to go to THE Ohio State University. The swim team seemed so promising + the school had amazing facilities + endless opportunities. I was sold + made the commitment to the Buckeyes. Freshman year was a great experience. Everything was so new to me + I was trying to take it all in. Being a part of a Big Ten team was amazing. It was so rewarding to be able to swim for my school + represent the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Sophomore year rolled around. One of my biggest regrets was not going home the summer after freshman year. That summer I honestly became burnt out from swimming. I had a short three week break after the summer season until we began again. I wasn’t ready. The start of sophomore year wasn’t the finest. Things weren’t exciting + new anymore. They were old + repetitive. I knew exactly what to expect + when to expect it. I grew to despise going to practice for five hours a day. I became so unhappy. Swimming was beating me down, physically + mentally.
I was always the girl who was so strong, who could do everything — but here I felt broken. I grew to question my motives. Why am I swimming? Why am I so upset all the time? Swimming wasn’t fun for me anymore — it felt like a job. I had so much pressure to perform, + I wasn’t performing as well as I should so I felt like a failure. Was that what I was supposed to feel? Failure? Defeat? I started crying every day. Every. Single. Day. I felt hopeless. Suddenly one day, I stopped. I stopped in the middle of practice. ++ I walked out.
During my short *break* I realized that my passion for swimming was done. It was hard to admit, but once I finally admitted it to myself, I finally felt free. I felt content. The hardest thing for me was realizing that there was a life to be lived without swimming. I wasn’t going to be a *swimmer* my entire life. I am ELISABETH + that person is so much more important + so much more worthwhile than the *swimmer.*
I finally had an opportunity to live the *normal* life that I had been lacking for the past 12 years. I became excited + nervous + anxious — so many emotions all tied together that linked to so many possibilities! I was ready to move on. ++ that is a very important step in life: moving on.
I compared my feelings towards swimming at this point to a relationship, a boyfriend, for example. How many people do you know who stay in relationships because they’re too comfortable? They stay in the relationship, not progressing, not declining — just staying the same. Too many people do that. They stay with *comfortable* because granted, it’s comfortable. But comfortable is not going to push you to success. I know it’s hard to take risks. Everyone is always scared of the *what if’s.* What if it doesn’t work out? What if I make the wrong decision? What if, what if, what if.
But — what if it does work out? What if it creates the best opportunity of your life that you otherwise would have never been able to take if you hadn’t jumped? What if your breakup leads you to the man of your dreams? Imagine that. ++ then think about your life.
Are you doing what you want to be doing with who you want to be doing it with? Because if not, then I challenge you to take a risk + stop living that comfortable life. Living on the edge is much more fun anyways, isn’t it? And it leads to much more interesting stories! : )
The story of starting CHAARG is for another post, but I firmly believe that it never would have been born had I not quit swimming to find new passions.
I am now incredibly passionate about overall health, fitness, + people. My mission in life is to help everyone find their own unique passion in living an active + healthy lifestyle, thus what I hope girls obtain through CHAARG. We only have one body + we only have one life – so why not make it our best? The beauty of our health + fitness journey is that it is never over + it’s up to us to shape it exactly how we want it. Don’t get me wrong – it can be hard – it takes WORK. It’s important to make time + do it for yourself. The only person who is holding you accountable in the end is you [+ your CHAARG girls ; )].
I’m so thankful for all the CHAARG girls who inspire me daily to live a healthy, balanced life. It is so refreshing to see young women with such a positive outlook on life. You motivate me every single day — just scrolling through my twitter//instagram feed, I am instantly inspired. Together, we are leading a movement that is igniting a passion among all girls to embrace a happy + healthy lifestyle. +++++
I know I speak for everyone when I say THANK YOU ELISABETH. Thank you for not only creating this incredible organization, but also for being a friend to each + every member of it. We wouldn’t have made it here without you + I know you’re taking CHAARG to new heights each + every day. WE LOVE YOU : )
+Molly, OSU CHAARG