In Pilates, the Hundreds is one of the method's classic core exercises. It’s a lung-tearing sit up done with feet in the air as arms vigorously pump up and down for 100 beats.
It requires the type of endurance that mother of two, Ashlea Giles is all too familiar with – not only from practice but also years of caring for her younger son Nash. At nine months old he was diagnosed with optic pathway glioma, a slow-growing brain tumour that occurs in or around the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain.
“Because of the tumour, he lost most of the vision in his right eye,” said Ashlea. “After surgery to remove the tumour, he lost all peripheral vision in his left eye and most of the movement on the left side of his body.”
Nash is now six-years-old and after extensive rehabilitation only has a slight foot drop that is corrected by a leg brace. And while he’s not currently in treatment, his condition must be monitored with regular eye tests and MRIs.
“It’s a big day when we go for an MRI,” said Ashlea. “Up until he was four, he’d have it under general anaesthetic. Now he has it done while he’s awake and the closer we get to the appointment time, the more difficult the negotiation is for him to go through with it.”
Although she has a supportive husband in Ryan, “he’s my rock”, Ashlea admits to “falling off the face of the earth” when Nash was first diagnosed. Yet it took her to hit an all-time low before she realised she had to look after herself to keep going – not just for Nash but for his older brother Noah too.
“I really wasn’t coping but I started going to classes at my local Studio Pilates,” she said. “It sounds silly, but Pilates, an exercise I’ve loved since I was 17, truly saved me. It was a healthy escape and gave me precious me-time.”
New-found perspective lit a fire in Ashlea, so she decided to transition out of her busy corporate role, be more present for her children and share the sense of health and wellbeing she experienced with others. In April 2019, she and Ryan opened a Studio Pilates franchise in Springfield, Qld.
Over time, other franchisees as well as the owners of the network got to know Ashlea, Ryan, Noah and Nash and learned about the family’s cancer journey.
“We wanted to do something to support them,” said Danielle Quin-Conroy, Studio Pilates Marketing Manager. “The Giles’ story touches a lot of people – it’s easy to put yourself in their position and realise childhood cancer can happen to anyone.”
Hundreds For Hope
On 8 June 2019, the Australian franchisee network will rally together under the banner Hundreds For Hope to offer a fun open day with free Pilates classes, market stalls, entertainment and give-aways while passing the hat around for all kids with cancer.
“Plans are going really well for the events,” said Danielle. “Our studios are continuing to amaze us with how much support they are gathering from their local communities for raffle prizes - a BMW for the weekend, spa and hair vouchers, Lululemon vouchers just to name a few - we are truly blown away!”
“Ashlea and Ryan helped us recognise that Nash is one of very many little children who suffer."
"That’s why Studio Pilates is extending support to every family affected by generating greater awareness and putting money behind the research to help hundreds and thousands of kids and families now and in the future,” said Danielle.
The couple also advised where the fruits of fundraising should go. It was not an easy task as so many charities have helped the family and many others going through the same arduous journey.
“Danielle asked us which charity we’d like to nominate to receive money raised on the day,” said Ashlea. “It was really hard to narrow it down, but we ended up choosing The Kids’ Cancer Project because they fund childhood cancer research with an emphasis on finding cures.”
“Significant funding is needed for research because kids are still getting adult based treatments,” said Ashlea.
“Even though Nash isn’t currently in treatment, we continually worry about what the chemo and other medications have done to his little body and what effects lie down the track for him. There’s got to be something kinder and eventually a cure,” she said.
“I’m just so touched and grateful that the whole network and broader community are getting behind this initiative. It’s for all the families we see at the hospital and children with cancer everywhere – we just want to make it better for everyone.”
Visit studiopilates.com to find your local studio and join in the fun for a great cause on Saturday 8 June.
Donate to research and help find more effective treatments for kids with cancer.