Chevy Rough, 34, is the man in charge of new Gymbox strength class, StrongDem, the latest project from London fitness collective RunDem. Chevy shares with us how fitness changed his life, and how his aim now is to help people become fitter, stronger, and happier than ever before. "After years of cleaning up, educating myself and rebuilding my body from the ground up, I realised my path was to help others find the chassis required to help them explore a new found interest in fitness".
Hi Chevy! How would you describe yourself in five words?
- Self Aware
You've been part of the RunDem collective for three years, how did this happen?
I first encountered Charlie and RunDem in January 2013 when I signed up for a six week introduction to running, based out of Gymbox Farringdon, called Murdermile. Oddly enough it was exactly three years to the day we kicked off the re-mix back in January, which for me was a lovely way to come full circle on my journey with the crew. I’d spent 2012 battling a 13 year journey of substance abuse while working the 'high-life' in the Square Mile. The issues with cleaning up meant I had to distance myself from a lot of my friendship groups, and as a born and bred Londoner I found the City a lonely place to be all of a sudden. Combining this with a new found interest in my health, I signed up to variety of classes in London, hoping to find some new friendship circles, while beginning to combat the lifestyle I had been living. Three years on and I’ve left my career in the City behind, re-trained as Personal Trainer/Coach and back in Gymbox with my crew trying to help others make change for the better. Madness!
What makes them unique and special to you, and as a fitness collective?
What makes us stand-out is the fact we are all a bunch of misfits who work so well as one, while maintaining the individual characteristics that make them who they are and which we all embrace. We’ve all shapes, sizes, abilities, ages and characters in the Crew. All are welcome, and none are left behind out on the road or made to feel inadequate in the gym. Training comes second to community. I was injured for 15 months and couldn’t run, yet I came back week after week to soak up the energy of my tribe. I cemented friendships in that period of time, not out on the road, but through connection as a family who look out for each other.
Tell us about Murdermile, and how the format has changed for the new collaboration at Gymbox?
Murdermile was basically a six week introduction to running. The principles focussed around all the aspects of what we should be doing as runners whether its speed work, functional training, hill reps, core work, and so forth. Basically, the focus was to stop running junk miles, work together as a crew, and engage with your environment to act as training partner. It very much set the foundations of the running clubs we’re now doing across Old Street, Bank and Stratford at the moment. I think the highlight from the original sessions, for me, was being able to fall back in love with London through new eyes. The city I saw was a dark place, with a lot of bad memories, and I think we can all see it as a bit of cage sometimes while on the hamster wheel. All of a sudden I was doing double backs on London's Bridges, recreating track around City Hall, squatting outside St Pauls, and flying around the back streets of the City feeling rejuvenated – and calling London a home again.
You have developed a new class for Gymbox called StrongDem – tell us about that?
StrongDem originally came about after the realisation that as a crew, we were losing big characters to injury again and again. The journey from sofa to finish line is often a quick one. People have all this power inside them, they run hard, find cardio confidence, and then all of a sudden the lesson is learnt that the chassis they have is unable to keep up with the miles they’re putting in. StrongDem is a mix of the fundamentals required to move through life injury free –not just running – combined with training practices from various sports and urban movements. This is all glued together by the ethos of training as a crew, not an individual.
How does this new class fit in with the broader RunDem ethos as an emerging fitness brand?
For us, running and StrongDem has bought us confidence in our bodies, and therefore curiosity in what else we can achieve as we start to move through life a little stronger. We build athletes with inquisitive minds, therefore the exploration will grow into wherever our community wishes to explore, as a collective or individually. SwimDem, BikeDem, climbing, the list goes on. The great thing about the community is that someone's always willing to try something new, and it doesn't even have to be fitness related. A few of us have picked up cameras lately and are meeting up to stroll around town looking at life through the lens. Once again, community first, while connecting with the each other and our city.
You used to party hard. Are there any comparisons with the highs in fitness and those hedonistic party days?
The reason I partied so hard was to forget all the issues and pain I carried with me. I was lost and without direction, so when I was high and partying I felt good about myself and could forgot everything else going on in my life. It was a way of escaping... Similarly, it's a bit like that out on the road or in the gym. I can start to forget about the dramas going on in my life, and learn to be in the moment and enjoy challenging myself mentally and physically. With this comes the high of the endorphins and just the pat on the back that I am being a better version of myself with every mile or rep. The real difference is that the next day instead of hating myself, I’m proud of who I’ve become, and feeling better for the work I’m putting in. Sounds cheesy, but it's true!
Before you started running and later becoming a PT and fitness coach – did you do any exercise at all?
Martial Arts was a big thing in my teens, I thoroughly loved being in the Dojo and it’s something I’ve always regretted not continuing with. As we said, a new body can lead to opening up new doors and sometimes those doors can lead to old loves. I'm currently toying with returning to the mats, so watch this space!
How has fitness changed your life?
Fitness helped me shed the demons of the past and gave me confidence to explore a new path in life through body confidence and mental clarity. It’s also given me a community to thrive in and a career I now truly love!
You now work in strength and conditioning, hence leading and developing StrongDem. How can building strength in this way impact on one’s running?
We like to keep this simple at RunDem. Think of the impact you put your body while pounding the concrete miles, think of all those niggles in your shins, knees, back or wherever. Your body is the chassis that carries you, and you need to give it all the support you can to ensure you stay injury free! Strength, mobility and flexibility work will help you deal with all those niggles to ensure you keep moving and therefore exploring
What can people expect from being a regular at both StrongDem and RunDem at Gymbox?
The crew ethos of working together, understanding of the fundamentals required to run or move through life strong, all mixed in with whatever we throw at you, that week. The body and mind adapts quickly, race day or life never goes to plan, so we help get you ready for whatever obstacle is thrown your way, physically and mentally. Oh, and we have a lot of fun while doing it...
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