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Role Models 2018

Running Man

The New Role Models: Charlie Dark

Role Models

Charlie Dark is the man behind the Run Dem Crew, a cult running community which has transformed many lives in London. A real hero of the city, no cape required.

Charlie Dark is a DJ and a poet and the founder of Run Dem Crew, a running group in London which promotes well-being through running together and talking. It is literally life-changing for the people who take part in it. Charlie is a true London legend who is on a mission to unite and inspire people. He is one of 50 of our new role models for men.

The idea for the Run Dem Crew

“Various strands came together. A personal quest for fitness. I couldn’t afford to go to gym and wasn’t confident enough anyway. Running was a good entry point.

It was also a way to deal with the mental health issue I’d had in the past. I’d arrived at a point where I needed something new. I was disillusioned with my music-making career as a DJ.

And where I lived in East London, it was on the borders of the Olympic Park. I started running 5 years before the Olympics and the talk going around was once they’re over there would be fitness communities using the facilities. But I saw that unless someone actively encourages people to do that, to use them in a wellbeing way, then no-one will use them these spaces.”

The First Crew

“So I got into running, and I had friends who wanted to join me on the journey. They were from the music industry, which is not the healthiest of industries. It was like, “If we don’t do this, we’re going to be going to more funerals. Me and five mates ended up running every Friday night before we went to work DJ-ing and playing music.”

The Philosophy

“Because of the rise of social media a lot of people who kept in touch on telephone or meeting up are now becoming online relationship which can be lonely. It’s easy to hide behind social media – if we have this gathering once a week then there’s a safe space for our friends and community.”

The Success

“I incubated Run Dem for a year then started telling people what we were doing. Then we partnered with Nike and started working them with them and word got out. We started talking about fitness, and how it can join the dots in life. Physical movement is proactive and it can enhance your daily life and open up to the people around you. It gives you an Access All Areas pass.

Run Dem Crew is not about training to run marathons, or training people to be fit enough to survive the life they live in. Even if it’s just the ability to run 6 miles at the drop of a hat if you’re train is cancelled. Or least being able to walk home.”

The Legacy

“I work a lot with young people to introduce fitness at crucial points in their life.

Many people play sport at school and Uni but as soon as organised sport stops being an option, they stop getting into the fitness lifestyle, particularly things like football, cricket, swimming – the real life gym.”

The Community

“What I realised was a lot of people, particularly older men in mid to late thirties are losing touch with what’s happening. They have children or get married, and life leads them a different way. And I think a lot of spaces where generations used to come together don’t exist anymore. Young people want to have mentors but they don’t have anywhere for that.

So Run Dem is about bringing together different ages, classes and creeds. We’re the medium ground in the middle.”

The Difference

“Many people who have been through the Crew have had their lives turned around – I’d say there’s not one person who hasn’t been changed in some way. You see a transformation in people. We’ve had people with mental health issues, who have faced death through cancer, or through obesity. There’s incredible stories about some of the young people we’ve worked with, where we’ve turned around kids who’ve gone from sitting on a wall to becoming swimming instructors or actors – one person now works on EastEnders.

The Run Dem finger is deep in many different pies!”

The Accolade

“I wouldn’t say I’m a role model but I have the ability to inspire people. With role models it’s often about ‘be just like me’, but I think it should be more like ‘I’m doing this stuff, take from it as you will and add it to your own life.’

I’d rather be called inspirational than a role model.”

The Future

“I’m training to be a yoga teacher. I’m completing my first 250 hours of that and planning to take yoga to people who need it most. I feel like yoga is the bastion of people who have money or come from a certain class, but it’s one of those things that could be beneficial to everybody. At moment there are barriers of cost, barriers of the spaces where they operate, and also the instructors and the way it’s taught can be barriers. I want to get into that space, as well as continuing to spread Run Dem throughout the world.”

 

Rundemcrew.com

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