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At the heart of general practice since 1960

A day in the life of a GP and personal trainer

Dr Charles Walker combines health and fitness in his twin careers as an exercise champion and GP

Profile

Dr Charles Walker

Age 58

Role GP partner at Runnymede Medical Practice and Level 3 Personal Trainer at BootCamp Ascot

Hours worked Nine GP sessions and leading four hour-long sessions at BootCamp Ascot per week

04.30

My alarm goes off. I dress in the dark and I’m out the door five minutes later for a run with an 8kg rucksack. I’m preparing for a 100-mile ultra-marathon in Tennessee in April.

05.30

I meet two personal training clients on Ascot racecourse for an hour’s session. Each session is tailored to the client’s goals – one is in training for Tough Guy (which claims to be the world’s most demanding one-day survival challenge) and the other for the police ‘bleep test’. Often we use suspension training straps anchored to the children’s swings. The twin straps (like car seat belts with foam handles) are versatile and help clients increase their strength using their own body weight. 

During the session, we run up a slope at repeated intervals, trying to maintain the same speed despite fatigue. It’s starting to get light as we finish.

07.00

I run home for a shower, and have breakfast with the family, before driving the seven miles to the practice. I gather resistance bands, an agility ladder, hurdles, agility cones and two car tyres for tonight’s workout, in case I don’t get time to return home after surgery.

08.30

I have a tutorial with a GP registrar. I notice he seems distracted. He admits to finding it difficult to balance workload and family life while preparing for exams and updating his e-portfolio. In my running club sessions, I often pair up people with different levels of fitness to motivate each other, and decide to use a similar technique here. I recommend my registrar talks to our ex-GP registrar.

10.30

I do my paperwork, process results, answer telephone messages and sign prescriptions. I also have two hours of home visits. During the day, I check my emails and messages to gauge how many are expected at tonight’s forest workout. There’s good online banter happening between the BootCamp crowd.

15.00

I have a consultation with a depressed patient who is keen to lose weight, but lacks the confidence and motivation to exercise. She has declined exercise referral as she doesn’t want to go to a gym. I remind her of the exercise opportunities available locally that are outdoors, for free, with beautiful scenery.

Many patients know I’m a personal trainer and ask for advice on weight loss and diet, sports injuries and musculoskeletal problems. Some have tried BootCamp Ascot themselves.

I have no visits after surgery, so I get home to see the family for 20 minutes.

19.30 

I drive to the forest workout. It’s dark and eight runners are waiting and chatting with their head torches on. There is a great atmosphere – the group know each other well. When I open the boot and get the tyres out, there is a big groan – it’s tough, but they love the challenge. We start on our five-mile run in the forest, interspersed with tractor tyre-flipping (the tyres acquired from a local farm) and car tyre-dragging (with ropes attached to each runner’s Velcro waist band). We include hill interval training, resistance band and bodyweight exercises, illuminated by the torches.

21.00

I go for a further three-mile run with one of the runners, who is embarking on his first ultra-marathon this year.

Being both a GP and a personal trainer can be useful – I recently assisted a runner who collapsed following a myocardial infarction during a marathon. It was very difficult to read his ECG when the paramedics arrived because he was hypothermic and shivering. He was airlifted to hospital. 

In the last month, I also recognised a case of Lyme disease in one of our trail runners. He complained of protracted inflammation around the site of a bite, but had not realised it was a tick bite.  

22.00

I head home. I go on Facebook before bed, to make contact with my BootCamp Ascot group, keeping them motivated.

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Readers' comments (10)

  • good to see you spend a quality 20 minutes with your family each day

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  • seriously- what do your family think of this --?
    dose't sound like a good work life balance to me

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  • What's gone wrong here? Still a 9 session GP at 58? Borderline sadomasochism.

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  • 20 minutes with the family and the rest of the time spent working or training doesn't sound like a great work/life balance.

    Presumably you can't be getting more than 5.5 hours a night sleep either.

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  • Farah Jameel

    My father just ran his 25th marathon this morning, on his 61st birthday. Running his own business and simultaneously fulfilling his duties as husband and father to 4 children, I've seen him somehow find the time for us all. This despite him also rowing and coaching the rowing team too. So it is all possible. I don't quite understand it myself, but it's his way of keeping going, coping with stress.

    Hats off to this GP. Truly inspired by his dedication and his fitness levels.

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  • Fantastic I must try a run seems to sort him out
    There is dog pooh all over ..how can you clean it off quickly

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  • What on earth is wrong with some of the posters on Pulse when they criticise someone for staying motivated and keeping ultra fit at he age of 58? Admittedly, I do feel very inadequate in comparison - but that is my problem. If this is his root to sustainability, who are we to judge? I guess it may be a reflection of how burnt out people are feeling.

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  • *route

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  • This GP is an absolute inspiration. Dedicated to his family, colleagues and patients. The article describes one particular day--not every single day.

    Declaration of conflict: Yes I know him well.

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  • This guy has got 'impressive fire power' to say the least. For what its worth I have to say that I'm more than a little disappointed by some of the comments from 'colleagues' above. A GP who is fit, exercises regularly and is a personal trainer is a great role model for patients.

    Got into a routine of doing an hour before work in the gym myself and just hope I can maintain it. IMO Dr Walker is a great source of inspiration of what can be achieved. Its never too late to start or get back into it. Just wished I'd done so earlier myself.

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