Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Genus by Jonathan Trigell

What is it about a dystopic world that appeals so much to me? I've always been fascinated by the self-destructive tendencies in people, societies and countries, so often personified by a flawed anti-hero. 

My favourite protaganists - Fight Club's Tyler Durden, Cosmopolis' Eric Packer, Genus' 'Gunt' Charles Bonnet - tend to inhabit such squalid, violent, oppressive worlds that are overcrowded and diseased-ridden; driven insane and putrid with equal measures of desperation and slow death. To me, these blokes are demi-gods and half-deities caving in on themselves with the clear realisation that death is their only path and destiny, they're man enough to 'see' truth not as beauty, but as seething, ugly, naked and wholly accepting of it. As Tyler Durden would put it, "First you've gotta know, not fear, know, that someday you're gonna die."

Genus is Jonathan Trigell's third novel. Set in future-London, society is mired in descension when the genetic/income/class-division widens between the Generich, the upper class who are bio-engineered to near perfection and the Unimproved, the dregs who are naturally conceived. The latter inhabit The Kross, an underworld of the disenfranchised that becomes the backdrop for a series of murders all involving Unimproved victims. This dystopic thriller interweaves the murder investigation with the backstories of a set of players from both sides as it culminates in revelations that are both sinister and disquietly apropos in our present times and conditions.

Some may fault Trigell's overt writing style as over-garnished with literary allusions and philosophical stuffing. But I enjoyed it wholly and have admiringly added Gunther Charles Bonnet to my list of favourite unforgettable "fuck-yeah!" male anti-heroes to worship, revere, venerate.

It's Uphill We Will Go!

I'm not one to make new year resolutions. I mean why is there a need to wait for a brand new year to start something when you can just bloody well get on with it? So, in mid-November (2011) I think it was, I resolved to introduce an interval workout wholly different from, and to complement the kettlebell training that I've been doing since 2008. And before I wax on, it's best to lay out a bit of background and disclaimer: I've been physically active and into fitness since my teens and have a health screening practically every year. But I'm not a fitness consultant or trainer, I've no qualifications in fitness and nutrition, and definitely not a self-proclaimed fitness guru of my own making. I simply like to workout and eat healthily to achieve a desired physical condition and shape, and then blogging about it. In no way, should you embark on any form of intense exercise or workout if you've been sedentary for awhile. You'll likely need to see a doctor to get his/her "thumbs up and go ahead" if you intend on getting more active.

So, back to the new workout. It's uphill sprinting, folks. Sorry to disappoint you, no trendy cool-sounding routine embraced by the hottest celebrity for me, just simply sprinting up a hill for no rhyme or reason other than because I can (and also likely because it's there). The first time I tried it, I swear it was exhilarating, like nothing I've experienced before. I was also sucking in air like a crazy fella who just sprinted up a hill till he ran out of steam. And you know what? I jogged back down that hill just to experience it again.

3 Main Benefits of Uphill Sprinting:
1) Fat loss in No Time

Think of uphill sprinting as the love child of weight-lifting and intense cardio. Like kettlebell training, it helps burns a mother load of calories during the workout. It also takes a total of 12-15 min tops to get a full workout, so it's perfect for busy folks who don't have the luxury of time. The key thing is to sprint (short spurts of intensive cardio and speed with intervals of walking or slow jog in between), and not to jog (long duration of low intensity cardio). All you'll need to do is just take a look at the buffed physique of sprinters compared to the more reedy marathon runners and you'll see the physical benefits of sprinting. No offense to marathoners, they're athletes in their own right with amazing endurance and mental toughness, but it's just not for me.

2) Uphill Technique is Safer

The incline of a hill enables us to acquire the proper technique of sprinting naturally, because we tend to lean forward as you run up a steep hill. This natural tendency helps us avoid injuries that are more likely to occur if you were sprinting on a flat ground (any one who ever had a hamstring injury will relate). You're also using your upper body, arms and shoulders to acquire acceleration, so you're getting a full-body workout.

3) Increased Metabolism
It's also what goes on in your body AFTER your sprint that's astounding. For some people, they can continue to burn calories up to 30 hours after their uphill sprint, because our bodies will need to "repair" and "rebuild" the muscles that were used to help us get up that hill fast (this is known as revving up your metabolism - the degree of calorie burn even while at rest, or reading this blog). 

I'm a beginner, but I'm sold. If you have any good sprint techniques to share or resources I can go to, I'd be grateful. All I can say is that uphill sprints are going to be a regular item in my workout lineup and routine.

Here are some great web resources on uphill sprints and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training):

How 1-Minute Intervals Can Improve Your Health by Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times