THE SHED AT DALMORE - Bridgetown
Your space at The Shed is beautiful, how was it designed and who built it?
We had the most amazing team of people working on this project! We were lucky enough to find a talented builder out of Boyup Brook, Gary Chambers, who along with his wife, Deborah and their great kids (their son Luke was the apprentice on the Shed project) just got our vision completely. Gary has an artistic soul- he was formerly the drummer with The Stems- and he brings that artistry to his building work. And Deb, well, we wouldn’t have done a thing with out her! We also had a wonderful architect, Lyn Whitney, out of Bridgetown, who made professional sense of our crazy visions. I first drew up plans for the Shed back in 1999, just after my parents had bought Dalmore. I used to practice and train up here when it was a big dusty shell, full of white tail spiders and mice, and it was even magic then. It’s one of those buildings that has a soul- it’s a very special space.
Besides yoga, what else goes on in The Shed?
As a personal trainer, I run Total Body Transformation programs with clients. We work together for a period of between 6 and 10 weeks, with some longer exceptions. The programs are completely customized and basically are exercise and nutritional prescriptions tailored to help each client achieve their health and wellbeing goals. The approach is designed to regulate various hormonal levels in the body to achieve the best possible results. It’s about getting strong, functionally fit and feeling proud, and creating changes that last. These programs are actual transformations, so they’re not an easy fix. It
is really hard work, but as I say to my clients all the time, “there is no change with out challenge!” I drive them a bit crazy with that, actually.
We’re also running a specialized boot camp program- based on a functional approach and military training protocols. Think “Tough Mudder” meets “Old MacDonald”. My husband, Danny, is running this one. It’s a bit crazy, but such a wonderful opportunity for people to get outside, get fit and have a brilliant time! Lots of laughs and lots of sweat…
What else? We do weddings! Danny and I were married last October in one of Dalmore’s fields and had our reception in the Shed. It was an incredible day/night for us both- to celebrate with the people we love in this place we had worked so hard to create. We plan to begin hosting weddings and functions here in the very near future.
And we are planning to host a variety of cultural events: music workshops, writing workshops, different fine arts workshops. And of course yoga and fitness workshops…Lots of workshops! We have the Bridgetown Chamber music Festival out here on April 26th and a great one-day yoga workshop coming up earlier in April (the 6th) with James McIntyre- a mix of Pranayama and Asana. Lots happening over the year ahead!
What has been your biggest challenge so far in establishing the Shed?
I think the hardest thing for me personally has been dealing with the fact that anytime you do anything that puts you into a public role, especially in a smaller community, there will be some negativity thrown your way. I don’t know why people fall into this trap, and I sometimes wonder if they realize how hurtful it can be? It’s so demoralizing. I’ve heard some wild stories about what we are doing out here, about how we funded the project, about me… It is hard but I’m slowly developing a thicker skin.
My family has been here 16 years, but I have been in and out sporadically over that time. I began teaching in the area in 2006/7 during a 5- month break from Africa, so I’ve been working around the region for quite awhile, but you still hear comments about people wanting to “spend their money locally” rather than funding an “out of town-er”. I recently overheard a lady saying she didn’t need to learn anything from someone whose family built her a gym/studio. I just had to laugh. But then I cried! Despite the lunacy of it, I still found myself totally horrified and worrying, “oh my God, is that what some people think!?!” Where do these rumors start? And realities aside, why exactly would a family business be a bad thing? Aren’t most farms family businesses? I feel so lucky to have had my family interested and involved in actualizing this dream! I just shrug my shoulders and sigh now. If you do something new, people will talk, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I suppose there is a tendency to run with the juicy version because it is more interesting. I’m glad we’ve kept them entertained!
I only hope that at some point those people actually come and see what it is we’re doing and take advantage of some of the experiences we offer. And of course, you simply have to live your dreams, regardless of approvals. But this has been the hardest part for me, and that has been a big surprise- because it taps into ego and after all, yoga is all about letting go of one’s ego. This is another opportunity to learn that lesson. Oh yay! Haha.
And you know, there has been beauty in this process too, because for the few negative things I hear, there are so many positive responses and so many people who have completely embraced our efforts. I’ve felt a great deal of support from my fellow teachers and holistic health practitioners, so much caring and enthusiasm from our students and clients and the ever widening network of people involved with the Shed. It has been heartwarming!
It's such a beautiful property, do you have plans to hold retreats?
We built the Shed with the intention that it would become a resource for our community- a place where a variety of teachers and practitioners can hold classes, workshops and events to enrich the lives of people living in the Blackwood Valley Region and beyond. We have some wonderful teachers and trainers (Jaala Mathewson, Tara Reid, Amy Binder) who have been/will be collaborating with us on the Shed’s current timetable and upcoming fitness and yoga events. I really hope that our professional diversity will continue to grow and evolve with the needs of the community- I don’t ever want to be doing this on my own.
And I suppose my big dream for the Shed is to have about 50% of our yoga and wellbeing/training programs subsidized so that people can participate in our classes on a scholarship basis. Whether that will happen through grant funding, private donations, or a trust we establish where we set aside a percentage of our profits, or even a mix of all three, I don’t yet know. As long as we can find a way to increase accessibility, that’s what matters. Over the years, I’ve found that the people who most need the help are the least likely to have the means to afford it- and I don’t think cost should be a prohibitive factor if someone is ready to ask for help and change their reality.
I’ve worked quite a bit with addictions and domestic violence in the past, and eventually I’d like to run retreats and classes for people confronting these challenges. And I’d like us to run some teacher trainings and longer yoga workshops. I hope The Shed will one day be able to offer people the educational opportunities to broaden their training and pursue their dreams- in fitness, in nutritional medicine and, of course, in yoga.
Lastly, but perhaps one of the most important aims for me personally, I’d love to set up an apprentice teaching exchange program with yoga students back in East and Central Africa. There are amazing things being done at the moment in Kenya by the Africa Yoga Project. The woman who has created AYP, Paige Elenson, is such a source of inspiration. She is incredible. Her work reminds me to dream BIG and commit! Anything is possible if you work from your heart.