Hola! My name is Karly Peters and I fell in love with SWERK the second I took a class. No joke. It was Rachel’s birthday bash, a virtual event in 2020 (#covid), and one of my friends sent me the link to hop on. I didn’t know what to expect, and I definitely wasn’t ready for what was to come. But to understand my hesitations, you must first understand my upbringing.
I grew up in a small town down in the foothills of Adams County. Riding tractors, shooting deer, eating Amish donuts, and planting beans and corn was a part of daily life for most people. Our family attended church regularly as most families did. Our population was less than a thousand and everyone always made you feel welcome and a part of our community. We had one stop light and a Mcdonald’s… Essentially that was all there was. There wasn’t much activity in the sense of going out, and school dances seemed to be the only dancing outlet for people. Imagine having your parents, teachers and principals chaperoning closely: Twerking seemed like a sin to me. I was always a ball player, a true sports enthusiast, and I remember telling myself that I couldn’t dance because I was too rigid, uncoordinated and clumsy (which was partially true back then). As I grew older and went to college, I started taking Zumba classes at Wright State and fell in love with dancing. I was still having a hard time changing my thought process and actually growing into my coordination and rhythm, but it was fun to me nevertheless. A few years later my friend invited me to this SWERK birthday bash. I had never heard of SWERK, but I figured I would give it a try. What’s the worst that could happen? It was virtual, I like to dance, and it was free.
The entire duration of Rachel’s class, I was laughing, smiling and having an absolute ball of a time. I felt so silly at first, but being in the comfort of my own home, I quickly realized I was actually enjoying myself more than I wanted to give credit. I couldn’t remember the last time I had that much fun during a WORKOUT. Ya’ll, I was sweating my butt off and burning calories I didn’t know I could. At the end of the class I was on cloud nine. I felt like Queen B walking on stage at a concert. I felt like I could do anything I wanted and all the girls there were so supportive and empowering. This experience of pure joy, no judgements, and rush of confidence ultimately led me to decide I wanted to teach SWERK right then and there. So I signed up to get my license (2020), took the licensure class, and have not looked back since.
Teaching SWERK calls for a lot of energy and a whole lot of attitude… to which would intimidate anyone starting their first class. It had been a few months after getting my license and practicing choreography, and I remember seeing a post in our facebook #squad group about this new huge opportunity/collaboration called CHAARG. I had never heard of CHAARG before, but thought I would look into it since they were only doing virtual classes at the time. Plus, I was still a SWERK newbie, it just seemed the perfect opportunity for me to grow and learn.
… CHAARG … wow. CHAARG is a club on college campuses that allows women to try different workouts every week and truly just support each other in their health and fitness journey as a whole. If you are a CHAARGIE baddie reading this, just know you have an incredibly special place in my heart.
In the fall of 2020 I taught my first SWERK class ever to THE Ohio State University CHAARG girls. What an honor to teach to those girls. We all had so much fun and truly this sense of community and empowerment was present and I can’t explain how, but it just was and it. was. powerful. That fall I taught 5 out of 25 CHAARG classes (20%). The following spring I taught 19 out of 45 classes (42%).
Obsessed is an understatement. I had fallen in love. They had fallen in love. SWERK really brought out the best in all of us and we all had SUCH a great time, we couldn’t stop. Quite literally. A few colleges would directly DM me and ask to do extra events and bigger collaborations with more than one college at a time. I obviously said yes and continued to build this huge community of CHAARG girls who, at a time, were distinctly represented by their school. But now we are all one big group of women empowering other women, and it truly has brought us together during a time where isolation and loneliness was at an all time high. Throughout this time of growing my presence in the CHAARG world, I had increased my IG following by about 300-400 incredible fitness focused powerful women. We really started to become a family (virtually) on Instagram.
In the fall of 2021 I taught 11 out of 18 classes (61%), two of which were IN PERSON! The first one, I drove out to UIUC in IL and taught my first ever in person class. WOW. It was exhilarating. There were roughly 50-60 girls that showed up and truly just became the Queen B’s I knew they all were. It was even one of the girls birthday and she was able to “lead” the cake song, and let me just tell you, she really came for that cake #iykyk. Being together in person was such an incredible experience and when I went to Akron a few weeks later, I was in for a shock. We were in a very small room compared to where I was in IL and there were maybe 20-25 girls present. I was extremely nervous as I had not been that intimate and close to others yet while SWERK’ing in person and I was wearing my yellow pants… again, #iykyk. Quite literally as soon as we got started though I was taken over with the baddest b vibes ever. Those 20 something girls really felt like 200. We danced our booties off and really just hyped each other up the entire time. After I left both in person events, the whole drive home was notification after notification on Instagram. The girls LOVED the SWERK workouts and were already asking if I could come back in spring (2022). Throughout this semester of teaching CHAARG, I had roughly another 400-500 new IG followers and our community of badass women who loved fitness and SWERK grew even bigger.
At this point in time, I have several colleges reaching out to hold in-person events as well as virtual. As of right now, I am signed up to teach 13 out of 15 classes (87%), 5 of which are in person (38% of my classes)! Some of these go as close as UD and Miami and as far as UIUC again and Kentucky! The platform I have built on my social media accounts has truly been able to bridge the gap between people across the country. It has allowed us women to hold a space in which we can just BE US. We can empower one another in a judgement free zone. We can talk about the hard things. We can shake our booty and NOT get judged or have men sexualize us. We are strong. We are confident. Our community is a force to be reckoned with and we are changing the world of fitness one booty shaking session at a time.