Blog post by Sally Sculthorpe, Borough Belles Secretary
In September’s meeting we dusted off our lycra, sweatbands and trainers to welcome welcomed the inspirational Charlotte Roach, founder of Rabble – a sports club with a difference. With its focus on playing games Rabble is for people who are ‘bored of boring exercise’.
Charlotte Roach was a budding triathlete busy training for the Olympics. She had left university in pursuit of her sporting dream and was poised for success. Until one Sunday in November, Charlotte came off her bike and was hit by a land rover. In a passing car, a rugby physio stopped and immediately spotted Charlotte was seriously injured. Her back was broken in twelve places and both her lungs had been punctured. The air ambulance were called and the on-board doctor inserted chest drains to keep her lungs inflated. This was a massive stroke of luck as only one in five air ambulances has an on-board doctor.
It took extensive surgery to fix Charlotte’s back. Initially, Charlotte believed she would be able to attend a training camp in Spain just a fortnight after the accident. Upon discharge from hospital, Charlotte continued to believe she would soon be back to Olympic training. But, it soon became apparent that the road to recovery was to be long after she struggled to manage a short 500m walk to the doctors. Learning to live with her new body was hard.
The mental impact of such a serious injury was difficult: “One day I’m training for the Olympics, the next I’m not breathing for myself”. Charlotte admitted it was hard to initially get back on her bike.
After time out, Charlotte decided to return to university but was still committed to Triathalon training before coming to the realisation that she may never reach the level of fitness required to make the British team.
Upon graduating from University, Charlotte decided to embark on a one woman cycle ride from Beijing back to the UK, a journey of over 10,000 miles which she completed on a £180 bicycle using a paper map of China and her intuition. Cycling a route that took her from Vietnam, along the East coast of Australia and through Europe from Turkey back to the UK, Charlotte raised £10,000 for the Air Ambulance.
Upon her return to the UK, Charlotte worked as a construction manager but found herself unfulfilled by this job. Coming back to exercise, Charlotte found she didn’t enjoy the gym, and exercise classes seemed really strange – full of sweaty people who are there do nothing but expend energy and don’t speak to each other.
It was then she hit upon the idea of Rabble, and took the risk to “quit my job and live off fear”. A Rabble game is an hour of intensive exercise disguised as a game. The aim is for people to “come and play, make friends and get fit”. It started as a small Meet Up group but over time Rabble has taken off and there are several sites you can ‘play’ across London. Rabble games have also expanded to several cities across the UK including Chester where the local club is run by Charlotte’s mum and the average age of members is 50. In most games, there is an even split between men and women with the average London member being in their late twenties.
Charlotte’s ethos is to create games that keep people moving with a fun focus on cardio, and not necessarily sticking to the rules. It is a place for people to come together outside of the gym.
After hearing about Charlotte’s passion for getting people fit through old skool playground games it was our turn to have a go. We headed outside and got stuck into two different versions of dodgeball watched with bemusement by people passing by.
After all that exertion it was time to head back indoors for some well-deserved refreshment including restorative orange wedges and these lovingly hand-crafted cupcakes.
To find out more about rabble visit: joinrabble.com