The First Game
Two years ago, I was sat at home nervously awaiting the beginning of my first ever rabble session. It was not called rabble, we’d existed virtually for two weeks. I didn’t know who would come. I was organising dodgeball, something I’d never played. I’d borrowed some space, equipment and friends. Somehow it was bizarrely as good as I could have hoped for and we’ve learnt a lot since then. The rules, structure and training have all been refined but the core concept (and circular dodgeball) remains the same.
I’d quit my job to blur the boundaries between entertainment and exercise. To create an exercise product that you looked forward to rather than dreaded. I believed this was the reason for the lack of engagement with exercise. It was time to stop questioning people’s motivations and start questioning the exercise product. And the concept I’d envisaged, but not tested was an hour of games, from beginning to end. Intense enough to give you a workout in their own right but enjoyable enough that you come back because you love it and play hard because you want to win. They also had to be team games, because the social element is also of critical importance to enjoyment and health.
Did I know whether I could create this? No.
Did I know whether I could deliver this? No.
Did I know whether anyone would want it? No
Did I believe I could? No. But it seemed crazy that nobody else thought this was a problem and what did I have to lose?!
Two years ago I used to get up everyday and force myself to do something I’d never done before, a terrifying, but exhilarating existence. I was living off nothing but a pit of nerves with no idea when I might to cover my rent. Scary?
If I could fast forward to all the answers. What would I ask?
Then the question always on my mind was ‘will we ever build a community?’ I always believed that community was the key. I didn’t know how long it would take to build, but I thought we could. But I didn’t know.
Now we’ve built a community. The Rabble are a daring and fun group of change makers who also believe in playing at life. That’s incredible. They are incredible.
What do I ask myself everyday now? Can we build more communities? Can we reach survival certainty? Can we genuinely change the way people perceive exercise from something negative to something really exciting?
But you see the trap. Always focused on the next hurdle. You forget those you’ve climbed to get there. The mentality is fine, without it there’s no progress. But if you’re not enjoying the process you’re quickly wishing your life away, for what, for answers?! My Rabble journey is an incredible mixture of pleasure and purpose, the building blocks of happiness (philosophy of Happiness by Design). Yeah we play kids games in parks, but there’s a serious health implications behind what we do (I wrote more on that). Changing perceptions on exercise is exciting and rewarding.
Today there’s less fear. Rabble still has it all to do, we are but a speck of anarchy in the hideously dull exercise market but there are less uncertainties. We have proved something. I have proved something. And that is cool.
Sometimes I get a splash of reality, I look up and see 30 people running around mentally, dodging balls, passionately debating rules, attacking bases, being taught by another instructor, who is concurrently training someone else. I am just a superfluous observer. I can’t help but smile. Happiness I designed.
It wouldn’t have happened without that initial risk.
Sitting here now on the same Wednesday two years after the first, waiting for tonight’s session, on another basketball court, run by a player turned instructor, with a full class of brilliant sparky personalities we are proud to call the Rabble.
It’s incredible to think how far we’ve come.
I would do it all again.