Dr Charlie Allen interview: The GP exercise enthusiast

East London GP enjoys his exercise classes so much, he wants to become an instructor.

Dr Allen flexes his muscles with instructor Mel (Paul Ross)
Dr Allen flexes his muscles with instructor Mel (Paul Ross)

Back in 2007 I used to be one of those guys who went to the gym, lifted weights and did a couple of cross-trainer or treadmill sessions.

I found it boring doing things on my own - the session seemed so inefficient and I often lost motivation. One day, a friend suggested I should try a weight-based exercise class, like BodyPump.

At the time, I thought group exercise classes were not for me, but how wrong I was. I've never looked back.

Group exercise

BodyPump is group exercise to music, based on the use of plates, barbell and explosive motions, over one hour, working lots of muscles - chest, back, biceps, triceps and abs.

It is great for building strength and endurance, and burning fat, as the exercises are done during interventional training.

It is also good for toning, so I feel much stronger, have low body fat and feel great after each workout. Some of my best friends now are the instructors and other class participants.

These days, I go to BodyPump at least four times a week; sometimes I combine it with other classes, such as BodyCombat, BodyBalance and RPM, a cycling class.

I love the classes so much, I often know all of the choreography. My body would move automatically when the music came on, based on muscle memory.

Recently, there was a rumour going round that when Justin Timberlake was staying in London, he went to our gym and joined in the BodyPump class.

One day after a class, a new instructor came to talk to me and asked me where I taught, as I was moving so well to the tracks, which was very flattering.

However, there have also been occasions when I have been told off (in a friendly way) for shaking my butt too much during cool down - everyone just laughed and that was great.

It would be a big change from participating to teaching, but I would love to do that. Becoming an instructor involves studying, doing video on exercise to music, learning exercise choreography and coaching participants. Coaching is a skill that should come naturally to me as a GP, because it is something we do day to day with our patients.

There is a picture of me in a class in my consulting room and when patients ask about it, I use it as an opportunity to talk to them about getting into exercise.

I always tell my patients that exercise should be fun; it should give you motivation to come back.

Music and adrenaline

BodyPump gives me all of that. Anyone can join at any level; you can push yourself to work harder. Music and the adrenaline from the class also give me such happiness.

Sometimes on a bad day, I listen to music from the class on my earphones, shut my eyes and think of that great feeling during the class - and I feel great again.

The good news is, most gyms will have BodyPump. Pick up your kit, go to the gym and try it out. It's much easier than you think. And you will make friends for life. At my gym, Virgin Active Canary Wharf Riverside, we are doing a day of all new releases of our classes, which is a great way for people to try out different things and an opportunity to socialise with the instructors and other participants.

Our class manager organises food and drink afterwards. Some people would bake cake, although I suspect gym freaks would not want it, even home baked. I have already signed up to at least three classes that day. And over the next year, I aim to try to become a BodyPump coach.

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