Three years ago I ran my first ever Rabble game. On a dark Wednesday night in January in Kentish Town, I’d invited people along to the first session with ‘The Game Gym’ as we were then called. I’d borrowed some space, some equipment and some friends. I was nervous, we were to play a game of dodgeball, it was the first time I’d ever seen dodgeball, never mind instructed it.
But I was clear on the objectives of our game:
- It had to be fun.
- Players had to get a workout.
- It was going to be super social.
- Anyone could join in, no matter whether you’d played before.
We played circular dodgeball. It’s still a firm favourite of the Rabble community. After the game we went to the pub and shared chips. We earnt them..
We were about balance, about making sure our limited free time was for doing things we liked, which happened to be playing games with our mates and eating chips. Not sweating on the treadmill alone and eating kale.
Having left the world of competitive sport, I was looking forwards to enjoying a normal relationship with exercise again. I was looking forwards to playing out with my mates across a varied range of activities and not having to follow a strict training regime, sacrificing the enjoyment of the session itself just to further my pursuit of the goal to run faster. But bizarrely I found the fitness industry very similar to my life as an athlete. But this time the goal was purely aesthetic.
Finding this goal uninspiring and the idea depressing that exercise would be a chore for the rest of my life. I looked around and realised this was a common feeling, and also a common reason as to why many people don’t exercise as much as they should. So I quit my job to make exercise the highlight of the day and to get fit by loving it.
Each week I tried something different, remixing sports, bringing back playground classics and creating my own ones. Always obeying the principles I began with to allow anyone to jump in, play hard and feel satisfied physically, mentally and socially after the game.
It was some time before I got to play my own games. Playing the games made me feel like I was reliving my childhood, I felt free, each game had it’s own story, woven between the players, the setting and the game, where each tactical decision I made influenced the outcome. We played on playgrounds, explored new parks, chased friends, hid in bushes and sprinted for points. The adrenaline rush was nostalgic, but gradually I learnt new tactics, improved my skills, reached new speeds and made new friends. The hour flew past.
Initially we were a very small Rabble, a tight knit team of players who weren’t afraid to try new things. Gradually new experimenters joined and a community was formed. Building a community is the most rewarding thing, when a group of positive minds come together you always get exponentially more back than you can ever imagine. The Rabble looked out for each other, organised trips, built friendships, shared skills, houses and a love for life.
And here we are three years later, which feels like a big number for a start up. Although we will always refuse to grow up. It seems it wasn’t just me who was fed up of repetitive work outs. We still have a long way to go in our mission of shifting the perception of exercise from a necessary dose of pain to make you feel good later. To an enjoyable journey, that’s something to look forwards to in your day.
l’m lucky to be able to say that I’m proud of the Rabble, I’m proud of our incredible community, our fantastic instructors and all of the lives we’ve changed, in building friendships, relationships, improving fitness, inspiring health and most of all creating a love for exercise, for movement.
Thank you to everyone who makes our dream a reality and plays themselves fit.