My Gym Has An Ambient Room

Ever wondered if our so-called columnist lives up to his name? Keeping you awake at night is it? He’s a big man and he’s out of shape. Sleep soundly dear reader

I found my 808 State cassette tape, thanks for asking. It was wedged in a roll of fat just south west of my nipples. Dive into the rolling mounds of my lardy torso and you’ll probably find the rest of my album collection. I’m so out of shape. My habit of four takeaways a day (including elevenses) has finally turned me into a couch potato, except it’s not a potato, it’s French fries, and it’s not a couch, it’s more French fries.

I’ve joined my local music-themed gym. These places usually whiff like a sauna overrun by especially flatulent cows, but because this one is run by an ex-Haçienda bouncer, it’s bouqueted with the pastel fragrances of poppers, fags and, er, an ex-Haçienda bouncer. Instead of churning out MTV’s Crappest Hits, each room has a curated musical motif. For example, the cross-trainers are soundtracked by classic synthpop. While you pump away like a confused octopus, you can close your eyes and envision yourself as a glamorous new wave icon, with peroxide pubes and orifices clogged with cocaine. Meanwhile, the running machines are accompanied by thumping house tunes. Click that treadmill up a notch as you fantasise about being a lycra-chafed workout girl in a misogynist dance music promo.

It’s not all perfect. The weights room plays acid jazz, which is awful so the walls are full of holes where people have flung dumbbells at the speakers. Much worse are the rowing machines, which are themed with every dark shade of industrial music. This seems like a mismatch. It’s hard to do a Steve Redgrave while being pounded by Skinny Puppy. An industrial rowing team would be a disaster. I can’t imagine Front 242 shaving their gonads and squeezing into a sculling onesie, can you? Trent Reznor would insist on being cox, even though he wouldn’t normally touch a rowboat with a bargepole. And look, there goes Stephen Mallinder in his speedboat, ruining it for everyone. Not AGAIN, Stephen.

Speaking of gonads, there’s a room full of big balls. Apparently, you’re meant to drape your knackered body on them until your spine stretches into a new intestine or something. I like this area. They play early synth music, a glorious analogue wash of slightly detuned hardware. For the full nostalgic kick, you can pretend the balls are space hoppers, although there are no horns to hold onto so it’s like riding the wrong end of a bull. Believe me, I know.

Finally, there’s the ambient room. Lots of Namlook and Eno, musique concrète and the occasional whale noise. This is the best space. You can let your pores hang out in a jacuzzi, or sup tea that tastes like old mahogany bookshelves. You half expect them to go full ambient and switch off the gravity, letting you gently float upwards only to have your face taken off by the ceiling fan. A truly relaxing experience.

Now I come to write about it, my gym does seem a little weird. The music curation is a tad off, like an All Tomorrow’s Parties curated by a Tory, or every Spotify recommendation ever. There’s a Haçienda gift shop on the way out if you feel the need for a Gillian Gilbert sweatband or a half-price Peter Hook groin cup. However, as I’ve said a thousand times before, you don’t want a low-slung bassist near your tender bits. Maybe I’ll give the gym a miss. Instead, I’ll just forgo one takeaway a fortnight excluding Christmas. The good news is that an Einstürzende Neubauten EP has just popped out from my grand canyon of a belly button. I wondered where that had gone.

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