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Massage and Poker Raises Funds for Joe’s Basecamp Nepal Appeal

Early on Saturday morning of our Big fund raising workout, I was approached by a girl with a bundle of cash. “Hi my names Jess, I’m a massage therapist. My boyfriend came to train with you before he went to Nepal.  When I heard about your appeal, I wanted to help I told my clients I would donate all my earnings for a day to your appeal and I play poker so I then played poker that night and won and donated that also…. here you are!!!”
“Thankyou very much” I thought that was both kind, funny and brilliant. So I asked Jess to tell me her story and here its is…….

Why I decided to fundraise to help Nepal through Joe’s Basecamp.

photo 6I was first introduced to Joe’s Basecamp because my boyfriend Mark had been doing his altitude training in preparation of his trek to base camp Everest, set for late April this year.

As my curiosity got the best of me, I joined Mark for his first fitness assessment in the altitude chamber to see how he coped with cardiovascular exercise in an environment with less oxygen.

The gym was huge. Located in a big warehouse next to Warringah Mall. It looks like an adult playground for anyone who is into functional training gyms and fun fitness activities. It includes a weighted sled track, plenty of squat racks with chin-up bars, free weights, battle ropes, and an awesome rock climbing wall. This gym is perfect for all levels of fitness but especially perfect for those training for any big treks in low oxygen environments.

photo 4The staff was excellent. Mark was raving about Joe Bonington, who he spoke to on the phone to set up his first fitness test with Matt – who was also very knowledgeable and friendly.

Mark said, “Joe’s father, Sir Chris Bonington is one of the best and most famous climbers in history.” Joe grew up around very skilled and famous mountaineers. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as the saying goes.

Joe is very passionate about adventure. He has done many treks all over the world and been to Nepal several times. He plans to go back May 2016 to take members from the gym and anyone else who wants to go to the Gokyo Valley and Everest Base camp, an area where he can tell his story and his families involvement with Nepal and the Khumbu.

Before I knew it Mark was off to Kathmandu.

I was very excited for Mark. He’s been looking forward to this trip to base camp since I met him. He was like a kid on Christmas morning off to the airport with his giant hiking bag fully equipped of mountain gear.
I was extremely jealous I had to stay back and work and continue my studies of cert 3/4 of fitness to become a personal trainer.
Mark headed off on April 17th to Kathmandu. He was really excited about everything around — the lovely Nephoto 5palese people, the food, and the culture. He spoke to a few people coming from base camp about the conditions in Everest being the worst weather in decades. Reports of lots of snow and ice starting at 3,500m.

On Monday April 20th he was off to Lukla airport where his trek would begin to base camp. I knew from this point on there would be no contact with Mark until he reached base camp.

Saturday April 25th. Anzac Day. I was off to work with the Manly Marlins on game day. They had a home game against the Souths. Both teams undefeated with 5-0 records for the season. The Anzac Day services were held to start off the game at Manly oval. A moment of silence as we remembered what happened 100 years ago in Gallipoli. The game commenced and the Marlins played great and ended up with a win 25-18 and being number one team in the standings.

The day was off to a good start. I headed off after the game and not long after getting home I read the first news reports of a 7.6 earthquake in Nepal and avalanches in Everest. Needless to say, my heart sank.

As time passed, the news reports continued to get worse and worse. Death tolls were rising at alarming rates. (7,000 people died so far.) The list of missing people was massive. And I then had to do something one should never have to go through: I contacted Mark’s family so they knew what was going on and we posted Mark on the missing persons websites.IMAG1175

I knew in my heart Mark was ok, but at the same time I could only encourage people I would contact them as soon as I had more information. Probably the worst 24 hours of my life. I finally got a message from Mark, “I am safe please call my mum and dad.”
I had a great sense of relief and quickly contacted everyone who was concerned for Mark’s safety. But there was no more contact from Mark for another gruelling 3 days. All I could do was try and keep busy with my daily tasks and surround myself with my friends.

It was so hard to live a normal life while I knew what Mark may be going through, along with many others in Nepal. This one hit me hard.

Everyone around me was living as if nothing had happened and I felt like I had to do something more.

First, I thought I would fly to Nepal to help wherever I could, but quickly realized I should stay put for when Mark got back, as I am sure I wouldn’t be able to find him in Nepal.

Next plan…I was not surprised given Joe’s nature and his connection to Nepal that he was doing a fundraiser for Nepal the following Saturday.
Nepal desperately needs money to rebuild houses/structures, first aid supplies, antibiotics, water, food, doctors, nurses, etc. I decided to run a fundraiser at my work, Bioathletic’s in Manly, and with the support from my company we posted 50% off all remedial massages all day Friday May 1st, 100% of donations to Joe’s Basecamp fundraiser for Nepal.

IMAG1190It was a huge day for me. I massaged 10 people in total from 8am until just after 6pm. I raised $485. I had a great response and support from the Manly Marlins team/coaches, a few of my beach volleyball friends, and three of my regular clients. I was thrilled but still felt like I needed to do more.

That same night was a house poker tournament that I occasionally join at my mates place. There were 10 players and we started playing at 8pm and finished just before 2am.
Needless to say, I was exhausted from the most emotionally stressful week I have possibly ever had. But I carried on in thoughts of Nepal.
I battled my way through to the final table when I started getting really good cards. With three of us left I think I had taken out both players within 10minutes! I won! The whole time saying all the winnings will be going to Nepal fundraiser. And so they did.

The next day I dragged my butt out of bed at 6am. My friend Lisa and I were off to Joe’s Basecamp for a 7am workout for the fundraiser.
I was excited to meet Joe and when he asked if we had any donations I happily told him the story. He was thrilled. $620 plus another $50 from Lisa.

We had a great fun workout , I know this was to raise money for a a very

Jess climbing the Joe's Basecamp wall for  Nepal
Jess climbing the Joe’s Basecamp wall for Nepal

series situation but Joe’s session was great with cardio, bodyweight exercises and even playing on the climbing wall. Most importantly though we raised a lot of money for Nepal

I spoke to Mark and he was thrilled. He said that money alone could build one and a half houses. Can you believe it? $400 can re build a family’s home in Nepal.

Thank you so much to all that helped me and special mention to Joe’s Basecamp for doing such an awesome job raising $ 19,500  Way to go Joe and everyone that helped along the way.  .

But people if you are reading this please don’t stop giving yet as more help is needed. Joe set a goal of $20,000 hopefully by the time you read this , we will have smashed that target.



A note from Joe:

Yes we have now exceeded $20,000 with your help but please Nepal needs you now more than ever. You can still donate at the Joe’s Basecamp Nepalese Fund. Please follow the link

Joe Bonington

Joe Bonington

Joe Bonington's mission is to help as many people as possible lead a fitter fuller and more adventurous life by helping ordinary people achieve extraordinary things.
This philosophy has seen Joe become a well respected expert and  leader in his field,  Possibly the southern hemisphere's leading strength and conditioning coach, for outdoor and adventure sports.   He has seen 6 of his clients summit Everest, clients cross the Greenland Ice cap, ski to the North Pole, ski tour and ski mountaineering in Antarctica, Iceland, South America and Norway, climb peaks all over the world, trek all the continents and enter trail running , ultra and multi stage events in the Gobi, Andes, Himalayas and the Sahara.

As well as a sought-after coach, Joe is a presenter and speaker.
He is also the founder and owner of Joe's Basecamp Gym, based in Brookvale on Sydney's Northern Beaches. The gym is home to unique functional fitness, strength and conditioning, and endurance training programs for trail running, trek training and mountaineering. The facility caters for all outdoor, adventure sports and wilderness activities - a one of a kind Bucket List gym!

If you want to know more about our coaching programs contact us here to find out how you can be a part of our great community of like minded people.

If you would like to know about working with our trainers to get the most out of your adventures, your events, your sport contact us here.
Joe Bonington

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