Life is too short for boring, repetitive exercise, say Charlotte Roach and Rosemary Pringle, the founders of Rabble, a company that creates crazy team games for adults looking for ‘funner fitness’
The Good Business column features people who are leading social change. It is created in collaboration with Impact Hub Islington, a co-working and business incubation space in London for socially minded entrepreneurs.
The entrepreneurs featured in this week’s column took part in the Hub Youth Academy, a two-week intensive course and year’s incubation period at Impact Hub Islington for young people to grow and develop their own social enterprise.
Nicola: Hi guys, tell us about Rabble
Charlotte: Rabble is a sports club on a mission to revolutionise exercise. We want to make people healthier by exercising regularly in an enjoyable way – inspired by kids who play all the time with their friends just because they want to. We run three team games per week in parks across London and play any team-based game as long as it’s fun, social and active. Our games are inspired by kids’ games or movies, so for example we might play Dodgeball, Capture the Flag or our version of The Hunger Games. We also offer classes to businesses to promote the wellbeing of their teams as an alternative to subsidised gym membership.
How did it all begin?
Charlotte: In 2010, I was accepted on to a programme to train for the 2012 Olympics in triathlon. Unfortunately I was run over by a Landrover while I was training and broke my back, punctured both my lungs and broke my ribs and collarbone. I luckily managed to survive but during rehab for the second major surgery I had to have on my spine, I fell out of love with elite sport. It kind of felt a bit self-centered.
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I then cycled from Beijing to London to raise money for the charity that saved my life, the Air Ambulance. When I came back, I got a job in London. It was there that I realised all the current forms of exercise for adults were really repetitive and monotonous. Without a race to train for, I found the gym isolating. I tried a few other things like Zumba, which I found really awkward. Then there are sports teams but I felt too scared to join. I was struck by how exercise was made into this really big chore for so many people. I thought I could do something to change that and so I persuaded Rosemary to quit her job and join me to build Rabble!
What was it like giving up your job to start Rabble?
Rosemary: It’s not as scary as you think. Everyone keeps saying I’m brave but I don’t feel brave, I’m doing what I love. The bigger fear would be living a life that didn’t make me happy. For someone like me, it got to the point where something had to change. The brave part is the first step. After that it doesn’t feel brave any more, it feels like I’m indulging myself. I’m so lucky.
What’s been your biggest success to date?
Rosemary: Three months ago we didn’t even have a business name yet a few weeks ago we got offered six-figure funding for the business. We just never ever anticipated that. We were amazed we could inspire confidence in people to put money where their mouths are.
Are you a business or a social enterprise?
Rosemary: We see it as the same. For a social enterprise to be sustainable it has in a lot of ways got to operate as a business – you’re just looking to generate social good at the same time and you care about the social good you are generating.
Charlotte: So for us that’s getting people healthy, both mentally and physically, and enjoying it. We want people to come outside, meet their friends, have fun and exercise regularly because they want to, and that should have a positive impact on their health. That’s what we’re passionate about.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Rosemary: No one is really ready to start their own business; you’re only as ready as your network. So lots of really kind people have helped us and given us some absolutely genius insight. The best advice we were given to start was to just get out there and do it. Also on the Hub Youth Academy, one of the facilitators, Ehon Chan, said: “Live for your eulogy, not your resume.”