Former professional rugby player Harry Rowland is the founder of H Space Movement, a ‘non-intimidating’ personal training studio based at Earsham Hall on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. Here, he shares his story and explains why he is so proud of the team doing the Norfolk Coast Mighty Trek tomorrow
Harry Rowland regards the team taking on the Norfolk Coast Mighty Hike tomorrow as ‘legends’ – which is high praise indeed coming from the former rugby player whose professional and semi-professional career spanned 14 years. Harry and the group, part of his H Space Movement community, will be walking 26 miles across all types of terrain as part of the Macmillan Cancer Support challenge.
Harry has worked in the fitness and wellness industry for over 14 years, instructing and coaching, alongside playing Semi-professional rugby, for Rosslyn Park RFC. He spend 10 years teaching Pilates in some of London’s most popular boutique fitness studios. However, years of competition rugby had left him ‘very broken’, with an injury history which included three spinal fractures.
In 2021, he and his wife, the soprano Laura Wright, moved from London to Harleston, with their first child. In October of that year, he ‘put a flag in the ground’ and opened studio space, H Space Movement at Earsham Hall. The beautiful location is not lost on him. ‘It’s so nice turning up and seeing peacocks walking around! It’s very different to being on an industrial estate or being in London or on the high street.
‘I didn’t know anyone, but I slowly built a community.’ People back in London told him that he was ‘mad’ but the father-of-two makes the point: ‘My wife is from Suffolk, we’re living in Harleston and I’m not just this chancer who’s turned up!’
Harry is passionate about providing in a personal training studio in a very rural location, for ‘people might not want to trek to Norwich or Ipswich.’ The first year was spent growing the community, but ‘since October we’ve got a lot more people,’ he says.
H Space Movement is aimed at people who have had a ‘bad relationship with the gym, and a bad relationship with health and fitness in general. It’s a safe space for people to come in and start a sustainable exercise programme. We focus on longevity rather than the aesthetic – and we care more about what people will be feeling in five- or 10-years’ time rather than what people will look like on their next holiday.’
He is keen for H Space Movement to be a non-intimidating space, where the emphasis is most definitely not on weight. ‘We are all about helping people who aren’t ‘gym’ people get into a healthy exercise habit and build confidence in their every day life.’ Harry is also all for breaking down any gender stereotypes when it comes to the movement classes. ‘I’m so proud of some of the guys we have now. We have plasterers, farmers, builders…I’m focusing on movement, and they are investing in their future.’
Tomorrow, a group will be teaming up with Harry on the Mighty Trek. They are all doing the walk for their own individual reasons but there’s a collective reason as well, ‘to make them feel like they can accomplish something. As adults, with responsibilities/families, we are all still very worthy to feel good, healthy and happy.’
To prepare, they have been walking for miles around Bungay. So how did the idea for taking part in the Trek come about? ‘I really wanted to give them a challenge, but something that’s not too draining.’ says Harry. ‘There’s no running involved – everyone can walk.
‘There are seven or eight of us doing it and I’m so proud of them for making that commitment. Some of them say ‘I wasn’t good at sports at school’ so when they complete it on Saturday there will be that sense of achievement – and that will last. Then it will be a case of using that momentum.’
Further ahead, Harry has ambitions of opening a bigger space and/or a second site. The 36-year-old says: ‘I’m just trying to reach more people and change that perception of health and wellness.’
Move better and feel better is the main aim of H Space Movement – whatever the age. ‘It’s hard when you get to a certain age, and you stop doing things that challenge you,’ says Harry, but he adds: ‘Age is just a number. Don’t count the candles, measure the movement.’
The Norfolk Coast Mighty Hike 2023, organised by Macmillan Cancer Support, is a half or full marathon along the picturesque Norfolk coastline on Saturday May 20, 2023 to raise vital funds for people living with cancer. For the H Space Movement JustGiving page, visit justgiving.com. H Space Movement is based at Earsham Hall near Bungay. Follow on Instagram and Facebook.
Featured images from H Space Movement Instagram