We all have moments where we need to rally, to summon strength or courage, to engage in a renewed offensive in life, in fitness and within ourselves.
Samantha Draeger, a 2007 Lake Mills High School graduate, knows the meaning of the word.
“When it came time to decide on a name, I was looking at my people and the reasons they were there and very little of it has to do with exercise,” she said. “They were there because they needed a reason or a way to rally themselves.”
Draeger didn’t attach a word to why people signed up for her classes until spending time with her mother while her grandfather was on his deathbed.
“He had a series of mini strokes that caused him to be comatose and non-responsive,” she said.
Her family came in from all parts of the country, but at night it was just her and her mother spending time with him. After a few nights at the nursing home they realized his death might be a long and difficult process.
“Even though he wasn’t responsive that didn’t matter to us,” she said. “Every night we would get some snacks and play games and sing to grandpa. We kept expecting him to go, but he didn’t, it lasted for so long…Every night I asked my mom, because we were exhausted, ‘Mama, what are we going to do tonight?’ And she said, ‘Baby, we are gonna rally.’”
The words stuck with the young entrepreneur.
Her new studio Rally, 119 Church St., is the culmination of all the things Draeger loves, veganism, fashion, travel, fitness and more.
When she was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater she discovered her love for teaching fitness classes. Draeger has also worked at Journey of Life Wellness Studio as an independent contractor for about four years teaching barre classes.
“I had taught group fitness before, but this was the first time I was teaching barre classes and it grew really well and they decided it was time to close the business and I thought I was going to transition full time to Milwaukee.”
Her apartment there has a studio inside of it.
“But then all of my people pulled on my heart strings. We’ve built up some incredible relationships over the past four years and they said, ‘Where are we going next?’”
Draeger says she really had to think about what she really wanted to do.
“The dream is, I love self-development, and designing your life the way you want it and living this beautiful life because you only get one and that’s never lost on me and making it the best it can be.”
She said she decided if her dream was to open studios in all of her favorite cities, because she loves to travel, it didn’t matter where the first one is.
“My people are here, and I work here, so I said let’s do this.”
Draeger works full time next door to her new studio at Candorem, 101 Church St., a user experience, web design and strategic marketing company. She does communications, project management, digital marketing and client advocacy.
Her journey to becoming an entrepreneur has not been easy or clear she says. In 2015 Draeger quit her job and traveled to India to learn about making fair trade clothing. She designed her own line of clothes but decided though she loved fashion it wasn’t her path.
In January she created an avenue for all her passions Dirty Co.
“I bring in the health and wellness aspect and living an unchained life, which is you doing the best you can do until you do better. It’s about being as ecofriendly as you can or shopping thrift or using fair trade and just educating yourself about these issued that are going on with the world that we contribute to without even knowing it.”
Dirty Co. is about living your best life, she says. When Journey of Life closed she thought Dirty Co. needs a studio.
“It’s grassroots and community driven. It’s the combination of everything in my life so far.”
For many who attend her classes it’s about the community.
“You are laughing at each other. You are poking fun. If I can lift you up and make you forget you are exercising, I’ve done my job for the day.”
The classes have also been a kind of stage for Draeger, who was always singing and preforming while in school.
“It was a place I could bring my humor and my energy and make somebody else smile and that’s what the stage is for, to entertain.”
The 30-year-old has had tons of support from her parents and people in her classes. It’s everything she has ever wanted.
“Even though it doesn’t seem related at all everything is coming together in this one place,” she said. “It’s all about loving yourself and loving each other.”