A tragic accident in 2011 left promising athlete, Charlotte Roach desperately clinging to life. Today she is the successful co-owner of Join the Rabble, a fun and exciting way for adults to get into fitness and socialise at the same time.
A promising cyclist Charlotte Roach was on her way to the 2012 Olympics in London, but a tragic accident effectively ended her dream of competing for her country. A swerve by another cyclist, a tumble, and a collision with an oncoming Land Rover left Charlotte with 12 broken vertebrae, a punctured lung, fractured ribs, a broken collarbone and minutes from the unthinkable. Rather than fight for gold in front of her home crowd, she was simply left fighting for her life. Whether she would ever even walk again, let alone cycle, suddenly enveloped her entire existence.
“When I went down, nobody on my team saw it, so they just assumed I’d taken a tumble, that I’d had the wind knocked out of me, and I’d be fine in a minute or two. Luckily, the car behind us was driven by a physio for Leicester Tigers’ rugby team and she took a look at me. Despite telling her I was fine (I had no recollection of the accident or any idea of its seriousness, even then), she could hear a gurgling sound when I spoke, which was the sound of blood seeping into my lungs. Effectively, I was drowning and I was running out of time to live. Her quick thinking probably saved my life,” explained the former triathlete.
She made attempts to get back on her bike, even getting as far as finishing fourth in a European triathlon, but her injuries had taken too much of a physical and mental toll on her. Instead, she focussed her steely mind, the same one that had been instrumental in providing the discipline necessary for competing at such high levels in sport, and, with the help of her business partner, founded Join the Rabble, a company aimed at making fitness more fun for adults.
“I had exceeded expectations at the triathlon even though I still had a broken collarbone. I wanted to be one of the best in the world, but because of my back I had to keep resting, and I couldn’t train at a consistent level, which affected my confidence. So, I went back to Cambridge and finished my degree, but I had a change of mindset and, though I thought I could compete, I realised I’d lost the drive to want to,” explained Charlotte.
“After University and my accident, I kind of lost interest in exercising. It became more of a chore as life got in the way. The gym was boring and I was thinking that I had to exercise, rather than wanting to. It was at this point it dawned on me that if I felt this way, it was likely that much of the adult population did too. So I decided that something needed to be done to bring the fun back into it, and that’s why our events focus more on the socialising aspect, whilst getting fit at the same time.”
Today, Join The Rabble has events taking place across London, including Finsbury Park and Hampstead Heath, and is starting to see a steady growth in profits. It has also been offered a lucrative seed funding deal, which could help it to grow outside of the Capital. As it says on the website, www.joinrabble.com – the Rabble runs fitness classes unlike any other. Every session is a game, a different one every time. Fitness can be fun!
It is often said that everyone has an idea, just not everybody has the make up to go for it. For Charlotte, that certainly rings true, and she has a theory as to why that is.
“I think, for most people the biggest obstacle is the fear of failure. Those who tell themselves “What have I got to lose?” are generally the ones who can take the next step. Others mire themselves in the what-ifs and buts and never get it off the ground,” she theorised, adding; “For me, I said, I’m alive, so it can’t get any worse than it was.”
Still, it took a nudge in the right direction for her to get Join The Rabble from a concept on paper to reality.
“I was working in construction and got offered a great opportunity where I was to name my salary and hours, but I’d had a few ideas evolving in my head for a while and I figured if I took this job then they’d probably die forever. There just wouldn’t be an opportunity to pursue them and this would be my life from now on. It kind of struck a chord with me, so I quit my job and lived off the fear… and a lot of Tesco Value baked beans!”
With the accident firmly in the rear-view mirror, Charlotte is now looking to push forward with her business venture. The progress they have made since inception, considering they only started with Charlotte’s £3,500 in savings, goes to show that you don’t need vast sums of money or crippling loans to make a business a success.
“In five years time, it’d be great to be able to go into any major town in the UK and join a Rabble,” mused the British star. “We’ve only been running for half a year, and the first few events were free so we could test the market. Now we’ve been offered funding and worked with big companies like Tesco, so who really knows where this could end up?”
Charlotte’s story of going from major adversity to success is certainly inspiring, and she has some excellent words of wisdom for anyone who finds themselves struggling at the bottom in business too, founded from her own experiences.
“Anyone can fight a battle, but it is totally about mindset. Everyone goes through difficult periods, but being a bit nicer to yourself, and surrounding yourself with good people helps. Believing you can do something is half the battle,” she smiled.