Rob Marsh wants to help Shaftesbury residents get fit and forge friendships using an innovative new way for locals to work out.
Rob will be offering ‘Rabble’ events – a new, nostalgia-heavy, team exercise session. And Rob says that he has a simple goal – he wants everyone to have fun, himself included. “It’ll be really nice to say that my full-time job is having fun,” Rob laughed. “It’s something you dream of isn’t it? Being able to wake up and then play games and have fun.”
Rob has a gym and fitness training background and says he’s been genuinely excited to discover this new way to enjoy exercise. “When I was a little bit younger, I worked at the leisure centre in Wincanton. I was a lifeguard and the duty manager. Fitness has always been a part of my life ever since I was a teenager.”
Rabble lets adults relive their childhood through games from the school playground. “It offers team-based activities where you spend an hour with me playing nostalgic, old school games like British bulldog, tag, dodgeball and capture the flag. There are lots of different games so people feel like they are having fun but they’re actually getting an hour’s worth of high-intensity workout at the same time.”
Rob has assessed the level of physical exercise offered as part of the Rabble programme. “It’s an all round body workout. The biggest thing, for me, is the mindset and the social aspect. When our children were really tiny my partner and myself were working really hard, full-time, and we lost that energy for life. I think with this idea it’s about getting the body moving, being social and having fun. The physical aspect of the exercise will follow from the team-based games,” Rob explained.
When locals turn up at the sessions, they will be put into competing sides. “There will be two teams. If there is an odd number, I will participate to make it even. The idea is to get between ten and fourteen people. You’ll have two sides and you keep mixing the sides depending on the game and the ability of the participants. That makes it as fair and as competitive as possible. After a while, you do get really competitive,” said Rob, who has tried one of the sessions upcountry. “Especially when you are playing dodgeball,” he added. “It’s all part of the fun. You don’t realise you are doing a workout.”
The Rabble concept began in the capital and has spread out to other urban centres. “Initially, it started in the London area and at the moment, it’s mainly in the bigger cities. The closest one to us here in Shaftesbury is in Salisbury. This is a new concept and a new market around this area of North Dorset.”
The advantages of group exercise are well documented. Many people join gyms with good intentions but soon get bored by solo exercise. Rob say that Rabble’s team approach offers a more engaging experience. “It’s much more sociable doing things with friends. It gives you a lot more accountability and you feel that you have to turn up, because there is somebody else that is going to be doing it with you rather than you feeling like you are on your own,” Rob explained.
As the sessions progress and more new participants join, Rob reckons that he’ll need to offer different events. “Eventually I will have certain sessions where there will be a beginner group and what they call ‘Rabble X’, which is a bit more intense and where it could get a little more challenging and competitive,” Rob said.
Rob has already identified outdoor spaces for Rabble. “The two main places we’re looking at are the Wincombe Lane Park, which is opposite the primary school and what we call the ‘Spider Park’, which is just off Blackmore Road. That backs onto the playing field of the primary school.”
Both of those locations are on the east side of Shaftesbury, where Rob lives, and he’s keen to promote his activities in the community around the housing estates there. He’s recognised the importance of offering facilities within easy reach of the residents.
“With so many houses being built around there, people can walk or cycle to the events. I want it to be an enjoyable experience but also something that people can access really easily.”
Rob hopes to start with outdoor sessions before the games move indoors as winter draws on. “Towards the end of October it will probably be in an indoor space. I’m trying to find a place to do it. The outdoor experience in the fresh air is much better for the concept of the game, but you can appreciate that turning up at 9:30am in the morning on a Saturday, when it’s gusty and raining, is not going to be an enjoyable session. So over the winter months we do need an indoor session.”
And incredibly, Rob is offering the first sessions totally free of charge, inspired by a similar offer made by Berwick St John resident Kirsty Elliott, with her free summertime yoga sessions on Park Walk. “The first one is on 6th October at 9am. I’m planning for sessions throughout October, on the 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th. There is no charge. I took the inspiration from Kirsty. She got lots of people to attend her yoga sessions over the summer holidays. Hopefully during October I will get lots of interest and I will move it forward into the winter.”
Even though the first month of Rabble events will be free for participants, Rob says it’s vital that people book, because he needs to control numbers. “It can’t be a session where I have fifty or sixty people turning up. Ideally, if I have more than fourteen, then I can split it into two mini sessions or roll one after another. I have to be flexible for the first couple of weeks. Maybe there will be an opportunity to get another instructor in Shaftesbury and run sessions together.”
If all goes well, Rob hopes to make this form of fitness coaching his full-time job. “I’d really like this to be a full-time venture for me. It’s something I’m looking into, going into spring next year. Now, it’s just about putting the feelers out to see who is interested in creating a bit of a storm about it.”
If you want to have fun and get fit with Rob’s four free Rabble sessions in October, contact him on 07723916848 or message him at Facebook.com/rabblewithrobmarsh.