Charlotte Roach, founder of Rabble.
Rebecca Wayman

Meet the female entrepreneur and former Olympic trainer behind your new exercise class Rabble

“I punctured both my lungs and broke all of my ribs, broke my collarbone, and my back in 12 places…Everything was just on a whole other world of pain.”

In 2009, former athlete and businesswoman Charlotte Roach had a near-fatal accident that left her clinging to life, fingernails scraping the edge. What she thought would be a normal day cycling, turned into a life-altering event.

Once an athlete determined to compete in London’s 2012 Olympic Games, it appeared that her goal was within reach.

Her passion to succeed is admirable. Anyone’s courageous and rather bloody terrifying battle against death is enough to make them give up a dream, a passion, a hobby… It’s enough because the battle might end differently, if we face it again.

Since being a child and through her natural sciences studies at the University of Cambridge, she had always been incredibly active.

She did competitive swimming, trained every day through her studies and jobs that followed… It was in her nature to constantly challenge herself and it still is, even now - despite the harrowing setbacks.

However, countless hours spent on intensive care following the accident and a dose of physio and rehabilitation later, Charlotte realised her desire to be the absolute best just wasn’t cutting it anymore: “I was very focused on trying to improve my balance on a daily basis. I was really curious to see how far I could get.

“But I got back on a road bike [after the accident] and had a complete meltdown. Crying, shaking, paranoid I was going to fall off. I had to slog through months of normalising the risks and understanding what was a risk and what wasn’t.”

This is where her business, Rabble, comes in.

Founded in 2014, Rabble is a mixture of high intensity (HIIT) workouts that anyone can participate in. I mean anyone - from the most sedentary of sloths to those competitive folk who spend their life at the gym (not judging, more admiring).

But for Charlotte herself, the gym was actually one of the driving forces behind her business - in the way you’d least expect, anyway: “I wanted to make exercise the highlight of the day, in the same way it was when I was six or seven.

“I used to dread going to the gym in the evening, I hated the whole process, couldn’t wait to get out the door. It’s intimidating, lonely… Kind of mind-numbing. Obviously when you leave, you feel great - but that whole run up to it was awful.”

With the drive and stimulation of training reaching the end, Charlotte cut ties and turned to the outdoors, because what she craved from exercise was sheer fun. Sounds simple, right?

She added: “I was going to make this happen because it seemed weird that it didn’t exist”, and she has a point. Not many people tend to work out because they find it entertaining, let’s be honest.

So, with living in London - and having done so since 2012 - she trialled her first classes in 2014: “My first class was in Kentish Town, it was just me trying the idea out.

“I put an event on MeetUp for free, I think I had about 15 to 16 people turn up - obviously I roped some of my mates in as well. I then ran another the next week, another the next week and just continued until the community grew. I also put meetups on Facebook.”

Angel investors soon got on board with the idea, and together with the University of Cambridge’s Downing Enterprise startup, Charlotte managed to raise over £200k.

Charlotte’s approach to exercise is straightforward; after all, you just need a reason to continue doing it: “Exercise is just moving, and you just need a reason to move.

“All I did was create an exercise class that was based on it being enjoyable, fun and sociable. You don’t have to be Usain Bolt to rock up!”

To find a Rabble class near you, head to joinrabble.com.

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