Campus fitness groups return with new looks


Photo Courtesy of Illini CHAARG

Members of Illini CHAARG gather for a workout session while remaining socially distant. Illini CHAARG, along with other campus fitness groups, are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Chieh Hsu, Contributing Writer

Last semester, nearly every fitness-centered Registered Student Organizations were forced to halt their meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many of them are reconnecting with their members with renewed modes of operation. 

In order to maintain social distancing, various conditioning facilities, including the dance studio at the Activities and Recreation Center, are closed for public use. As a result, the Illini N Motion Dance Team has found it difficult to locate adequate space for dance practices, according to Alison Crivlare, senior in LAS and president of the dance team. 

“Usually we practice at the ARC, and I put in a space request a couple of weeks ago but haven’t heard back from them (ARC staff) yet,” Crivlare said. “We have been practicing outside on a field, which is kind of difficult for us because we are used to having mirrors and a nice floor. It’s not ideal, but we are making it work until we hear back from them.”

Despite the circumstances, some fitness RSOs were still able to find an ample number of new recruits for this fall. 

Charlotte Trecartin, junior in AHS and president of the Illini Fitness and Wellness Club, said her club achieved a new record of recruitment this year at the Virtual Quad Day, with 84 new members for the 200-person RSO. 

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“Last year, we had a ton of sign-ups at Quad Day, but that’s people walking around and just sign up for everything that they wanted,” Trecartin said. “This year the Quad Day being online the people who signed up actually wanted to join.”

The Illini Changing Health, Attitudes, + Actions To Recreate Girls, the all-girls workout community better known as CHAARG, was able to recruit new members and maintain the size of the organization. 

“Last year our numbers were around 300 members but a majority of our girls were not able or willing to join this year due to COVID,” said Kayla Vargas, junior in ACES and vice president of media for Illini CHAARG. “Our new members though have allowed us to build a new closer community to our organization.”

Campus limits on in-person gatherings posed a serious risk for the Illini Cross Country Club. 

Rather than ceasing operations, the club was able to gain new members through social media and organize unofficial practices with fewer than six people through their Facebook group, according to Jeffrey Hesselbein, junior in Engineering and webmaster of the Illini Cross Country Club.

“Cross Country is a large group sport, so our practices are far too large to be within the 10-person group size,” Hesselbein said. “We also don’t have any meets to compete in, since all races we would run have been canceled.”

The fitness communities on campus are working their best to keep their members safe. Although many of them have steered away from in-person events, they are still ambitiously looking for new recruits and finding new ways of supporting each member even in the most desperate times. 

“It’s not too late for people to join,” Trecartin said. “Since our mission is supporting and informing UIUC students about health, we’re doing Zoom panel discussions on different aspects of health. It brings people together and helps the members to connect with each other.”

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