Richard Marshall On Stewart Home’s Proletarian Post-Modernism Spoken Word Album

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“Stewart Home’s ecstatic absurdity is an assault on modern culture bringing a Homeric pre-Socratic anti-Platonism to the table on the twin-back fun-ride of the funky German materialism started in the 1850s and the materialist-based Marxism a little later…” Read the full review here!

Above: Stewart Home reciting from his novel Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie at the Barbican Theatre in London while standing on his head.

The narrator of my new novel is gymcore but is he gymcore enough?

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The psychotic narrator of my new novel Mandy, Charlie and Mary-Jane (published 26 February 2013) is among other things a gym rat who works out both to keep fit and to get off on the spectacle of the women around him dripping with sweat.

My narrator Charlie Templeton does a lot of cardio but he sticks to the ordinary cross trainers, steppers, fixed cycles and rowing machines. If he were my double rather than a fictional creation, he’d be obsessed by my own favourite cardio machine the Summit Trainer – a snip at around six grand (£6000).

What I like about the Summit Trainer is that even at lower levels it is harder to use than most other cardio equipment. The only Summit Trainer I know of is the Life Fitness model pictured above, which comes in a couple of versions (although personally I don’t need the more costly machine with streamed TV on the monitor coz I listen to northern soul tunes when I work out). So if Charlie was my double he’d probably contrast this piece of equipment from Life Fitness to Technogym cardio  ‘innovations’ which rather than being aimed at the more hardcore gym goer, pander to those who are just starting out on their fitness journey (nothing wrong with that of course, we all had to begin somewhere, just that if you’re not starting out you probably want something a little more challenging – after all, unless you get out of your comfort zone you’re really not going anywhere).

Technogym say you can burn 160 calories in 20 minutes on their Crossover machine – which is aimed at everyone, even those without good co-ordination and without much fitness experience. When I’ve used this piece of tech I’ve managed coming on for twice the calorie burn rate they suggest is possible – but I can’t go any further coz I’ve only done that from the hardest setting. The movement is to the sides a bit like skating (which I used to do as a kid) or skiing (according to Technogym – I’ll have to take Technogym’s word for that coz I’ve never been skiing).

Another Technogym machine that doesn’t appeal to me is the Vario. This works as either a stepper or a cross trainer and you can switch between the two without stopping. The problem is that if you’re on your edge on the stepper then you tend to slip from a stepping to cross training motion. And again I find I have to use this machine at the top settings to feel anything – whereas Life Fitness machines tend to be more hardcore on the high settings. Personally I’d just much rather use separate Life Fitness cross trainers and steppers than this combined piece of kit – because I’d prefer to be pushing myself a bit more.

So if my psychotic narrator Charlie Templeton were anything like me then in my new novel Mandy, Charlie and Mary-Jane, he’d have been ranting about the inadequacy of gyms kitted out exclusively with Technogym equipment. But unlike me he’d have still been loathe to observe that he has no particularly preference for either Life Fitness or Technogym fixed cycles (aside from the foot straps not doing up tightly enough on the Technogym machines I’ve used – which does give the Life Fitness models a slight edge). And of course when  it comes to rowing machines I like those made by Concept2 best. And while my narrator is obsessive it should go without saying this kind of detail would bore the average fiction reader – so it ain’t in the book! So that’s another great reason to read this blog and pre-order Mandy, Charlie and Mary-Jane!