How did you get into teaching fitness classes?
It was really enjoyable to read Dr Charlie Allen's recent article on being on a BodyPump participant and his aspirations for future training. His own journey reflected some of my steps in the same process as I have worked to becoming a Les Mills BodyPump and BodyAttack teacher.
I had always enjoyed group exercise (Group X) as a way to relax and reflect on life outside of general practice. Working as part of a group provides inspiration that I found difficult to sustain when left to my own devices in the gym. You work harder when you are standing next to people trying their best.
Having inspiring instructors is the first step to making that leap of faith to exploring the options of teaching yourself. Being a GP trainer and an academic GP, there were parallels in the essence of Les Mills teaching that I recognised and affirmed with that gave me the confidence that I could take it to the next level.
Do you have any particularly memorable moments?
Like consulting patients, it's often the little things that are the most memorable. The smiles on a participant's faces after a class, the words of thanks for an enjoyable session. The people that keep coming back and seeing their fitness and physique change and improve. More recently, Les Mills now run a series of yearly events throughout the UK known as One Live. These events bring both instructors and participants together for an all day event lead by Les Mills world class presenters.
To take part, learn the new choreography and do it with your class makes for a fantastically memorable day out for us all.
Do your patients know about your hobby?
One of the initial reasons for doing the training was to look at providing activity classes for my own patients. At the time I was finishing of work as a guideline developer for SIGN obesity and this seemed like a natural way to help our patients.
Like any training, it was clear afterwards there is much more to think about than just turning up in a room and teaching a class. I teach my own classes outside my practice area, which has some advantages in not mixing work and pleasure.
This said, I'll often use techniques from the training in discussions with patients. Many know about the hobby and some will ask during the surgery when it's relevant to the conversation.
What would you say to any GP thinking of giving it a go?
For anyone that enjoys Group X activity I would wholly encourage them to take up the challenge.
The first step is a nationally recognised qualification. I would recommend an exercise to music (ETM) course provided by a recognised national body such as a The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) or local educational institute. This qualification paves the way to further courses specific to your area of interest.
Although there are many out there, Les Mills provides an entire suite of options such as BodyPump, BodyAttack, BodyBalance etc with the additional benefits of ensuring that there is a continuous accreditation and education programme throughout the year.
Something not always offered by some stand-alone programmes.
Les Mills programmes focus on five key concepts: choreography, technique, coaching, connecting and fitness magic.
What's next for you and your hobby?
On a personal basis this year I'll be working towards Advanced Module Instructor (AIM) qualifications; the next level of instructor excellence. For my participants it will be about encouraging all those with their new year's resolutions to maintain their commitments throughout the year.
As an academic GP, this year I have plans to role out elements of these course components to my medical students at the University of Dundee.
The aim of the undergraduate GP department is to ensure all our students have enhanced knowledge and skills training relevant to activity and exercise; an area the GMC has recently identified as a deficit in many medical schools.
In doing this we stay ahead of the game and embed these skills and training into a new generation of doctors for the future.
It also suitably aligns with the Les Mills philosophy and my own "Changing the Way the World Thinks About Fitness".