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12 Buckets, located in Perth Western Australia, is an early intervention strengths-based mentoring organisation established as a charity for at-risk and disadvantaged children.

The predominantly volunteer run organisation is committed to innovation and generosity, helping children discover their capacity to give - regardless of background or circumstance.

Fundraiser with a Difference: In Conversation with Pilates Instructor Gemma James

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Fundraiser with a Difference: In Conversation with Pilates Instructor Gemma James

Melinda Tognini

On Saturday 8 April 2017, 12 Buckets will hold its first Pilates with Purpose class at Warwick Stadium, under the guidance of experienced instructor, Gemma James.

12 Buckets receives no government funding for its vital programs currently running in four primary schools in Perth's northern suburbs. This year, 12 Buckets will begin to offer its celebrated one-to-one mentoring program at Girrawheen Senior High School. However, to continue to meet the need, and also expand the program, more funds are needed. Pilates with Purpose is one event that hopes to help achieve this.

We are very grateful to the many Pilates studios who have offered their support of the event, and we're particularly thankful to Gemma James, from Sense of Space Pilates. When invited to be involved in this event, Gemma agreed, without hesitation, to being our primary instructor for the day.

Photo Credit: Peter Hellberg

Photo Credit: Peter Hellberg

Read on to find out how and why Gemma became involved in Pilates, why she's jumped on board to support the work of 12 Buckets, and what you need to know about maximising the fun at Pilates with Purpose. 

How did you become interested in Pilates?

I first tried Pilates back in 2000. It's hard to believe that was 17 years ago! It certainly wasn't 'love at first sight'. Back then, I found Pilates utterly boring! I used to dread driving to my classes. The only reason I forced myself to go was because it was the only thing helping my very severe back pain.

I'd had a serious lower back injury and after a year was at the end of the road in terms of physiotherapy treatment and pain management. I had been referred to a psychologist to help me deal with the fact I would be in constant pain for the rest of my life, and to an anaesthesiologist to laser off my nerve endings to stop the pain messages getting through.

Thankfully, someone recommended Pilates to me, and the results surpassed my wildest expectations. I ended up going back to uni to do my sports science degree. At the same time, I undertook my first Pilates qualification.

What led you to starting you studio Sense of Space?

I had been teaching in Perth for about 6 years, when I had the chance to move to Switzerland and teach there for 12 months. When I returned to Perth in 2008, I was looking for fresh inspiration, and discovered art of motion training in movement. Until then, I was a studio Pilates teacher (mainly using Pilates equipment, like reformers and trap tables with a bit of mat work mixed in). I was so blown away by the course that I enrolled into their entire diploma and ended up working for their organisation.

The founder, Karin Gurtner and her main assistant at the time, Martina Palmer, became dear friends of mine. We shared a passion for bringing contemporary Pilates classes to Perth and Sense of Space was born.

When you're not teaching Pilates and Yoga, what might we find you doing?

Doing mummy things mainly ... hanging out with my boys, Austin who's four and Oliver who just turned one, and my husband Rob. Running a business and running a household with young kids means there is way more time spent behind a computer than I would like, and definitely not as much time for sleep as I want!

Why have you decided to get involved with Pilates with Purpose?

I thought it was a brilliant idea because not only is it fantastic for the kids we are raising funds for, but each of the participants gets to benefit as well, and we are literally bringing the community together to do both. It'll be fun!

Who, or what, inspires you?

Gosh, there are so many people who inspire me.

I guess professionally speaking, my friends Karin and Martina are my greatest inspirations. My clients at Sense of Space inspire me, too. Some of them have been coming to us since our very first open day back in 2010. I have seen them literally transform before my eyes, and some of them are now in their 60s, 70s and 80s. You would be so impressed to see them move.

Other than that, I am inspired by people who live life well, who are kind and try to help others do the same.

For those who might be hearing about Pilates with Purpose for the first time, how will the class be structured?

Pilates with Purpose is going to be taught to accommodate all levels of ability. I'll be teaching, and I'll have two of my team, Janine and Kelly, who will demonstrate different options throughout the class.

Who can attend Pilates with Purpose?

Everyone is welcome! Even if it's someone's first class, they will feel completely at ease.

What do participates need to bring with them?

Just a mat. A water bottle is probably a good idea, too.

What are your top 5 tips to help us get the most out of a Pilates session?

I don't think there are '5 tips'. If you relax, smile and have fun, that's all you need.

What final message do you have to other Pilates instructors or participants?

I'd just like to say thank you for helping raise support for the kids who will be helped by 12 Buckets. The support these kids will receive as a result of you helping us put this event together will be truly life-changing for them. Thank you to you, and to all the amazing people involved with 12 Buckets.

If you would like to help us reach more kids, we'd love you to join us for Pilates for Purpose at 2.30 pm on Saturday 8 April - book through our event page. Tickets are $20 if you register on-line, or $25 on the day, and every participant is in the running for an Argyle diamond.

You might also want to check out the 'Pink Tights Challenge' happening between 12 Buckets CEO, Travis Fitch, and Boyare School Liaison, Tim Rutter. Whoever raises the least amount of money will attend Pilates with Purpose in pink tights. You can 'rescue' either Tim or Travis by donating to their respective Everyday Hero pages - or set your own crazy challenge with a friend.

All proceeds from Pilates with Purpose will go to the 12 Buckets one-to-one mentoring program.