Beyond the book: Meet Ben Pobjoy

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If you’ve cracked into your copy of Movement Matters: Essays on Movement Science, Movement Ecology, and the Nature of Movement by Katy Bowman, you’ve had the pleasure of encountering Ben Pobjoy, who wrote the foreword for the book. Ben has only been on our radar for a little while, but we’ve become fast friends, forged through movement. You can learn more about Ben and his inspiring story here. Meanwhile, we had a chance to catch up with him recently. Here’s how that went…

 You’ve written before about how you encountered Katy Bowman’s work. What was it about her message that resonated with you?

Katy unexpectedly landed on my radar when she appeared as a guest on a podcast. What’s peculiar about the resonance, is that it had as much to do with her message as it did the medium I first experienced her message through. Katy and her message are obviously brilliant, but it was the dialectical form of the podcast’s discussion that figuratively hammered her message into me. This podcast wasn’t just Katy opining about biomechanics into a microphone from a scripted speech, it was Katy participating in a well-rounded, long-form conversation where she was occasionally challenged by the host, and every time she was, she responded humanly and often humorously with even more evidence, insights or analogies that made her argument more compelling. In addition, she just had this fun and inspired timbre as well as what appeared to be a bright mind that was as imaginative and innovative as it was analytical and methodological. By the end of the podcast, I was just convinced. More so, I was awakened and inspired to move. I heard the podcast on January 14th 2015, began walking on January 18th, and have since logged over 10,000km in walks over the last 21 months. The short of it is, I caught the Bowman bug!

Why did it resonate at that time in particular, do you think?

I first heard Katy’s message on the tail-end of a decade of decline; where my ascending professional success had erroneously ushered in a seriously unhealthy degree of personal sedentarism. It wasn’t just that I was immobile and felt lazy, it was that my immobility was so bad that it was making me sick…and I was only in my early thirties! I knew I had a problem— one that was worsening— but I didn’t know how to solve it. I had tried to get fit with conventional forms of exercise but such either left me injured or the results were so slow to experience that I gave up. But, when I heard Katy speak about immobility as a disease of captivity, her articulation of ‘casts’, her ‘orca collapsed dorsal fin’ analogy as well as her scientific meets anthropological discussion of humans as primates / constantly moving hunter-gatherers, I was ENLIGHTENED! For me, it led to a profound paradigm shift where I saw the shortcomings of ‘exercise’ (especially within a larger lifestyle that’s sedentary) in stark contrast to the holistic value of a lifestyle rich in varied movement. It all just clicked, and the necessity of movement just clearly came into focus for me.

What kinds of thoughts did you begin having as you began to move more?

Initially, I felt a range of thoughts, and sometimes conflicting ones. Intellectually, I was convinced; I knew I had to move— Katy and her books thoroughly convinced me of such. However, I started walking in the dead of winter— up in Canada— and it was real tough out of the gates. I was severely out of shape, so it was physically demanding to trudge through the deep snow, deal with the subzero cold and endure brutal winds (that seemed to pass through any outerwear I wore). So, the first few months were hard. I’d heard Katy mention that 25% of our muscles exist below our ankles, and I understood this, but when I’d trudge the uneven snow or jerkily slip on ice, I didn’t realize every one of those muscles would ache at the end of the day, ha ha! However, I eventually improved my acclimatization and conditioning and moving became enjoyable. At first, it was stress busting; walking to and from work provided amazing ‘decompression time’ between my professional life and home life. Then, when spring and summer came around, moving outside just became awesome— especially as I developed the stamina to walk for a couple hours at a time. I just loved walking around outside, just being an observer to the weird and wonderful things the world has to offer.

At what point did you realize you needed or wanted to do some kind of social good along with your movement?

I work in advertising, and while it’s fast-paced and demanding, one upside is that I’m dispatched all over North America to make commercials. So, I do a lot of work travel, and beyond that, I’m fortunate to have the means to do a lot of personal travel around the world. Whether I was on work trips or personal ones, I’d walk, and I’d walk anywhere; from the nice parts of cities to the troubled parts. The more I travelled, the more I saw recurring patterns. While every city is different, every city is the same; poverty disproportionately affects women and children— and in Canada— our First Nations peoples. Witnessing this frequently, it just started to fuck with me on a deep level. There I was, this white successful dude— who’d been given every opportunity in life— that could now afford to voyeuristically drop into all these places. And, when I got there, I’d use my free time to work on my own self-improvement via walking. I just reached this point where I would look in the mirror from time to time and be like, “Man, if you don’t start moving beyond yourself and pitching in for the greater good, you’re a legit asshole of a human being!” Thereafter, I was out in Vancouver quite a bunch for work and I’d walk through East Hastings Street, which is this notorious street that’s riddled with homelessness and substance abuse. It’s a literal hell, one of the biggest failures of the Canadian state, and I just thought to myself, “This is completely unacceptable, and due to my apathy, I’m partially to blame.” So, I transitioned my physical movement into social movement thereafter and began distributing sandwiches to hungry people on the streets. It’s something I could do at home, it’s something I could do in hotel rooms, and I made it my mission throughout 2015. I recognize it’s a very small gesture that doesn’t change the system, but I’ve seen the small, temporary relief it provides to people so it has some worth on a micro level.

What can you say about the response with which your sandwich-delivering efforts were met?

In the fall of 2015, when it began to get cold in Canada, I wrote a post on Facebook about what I was doing. It wasn’t to boast or be self-righteous, it was just a plea to my friends— many of whom are these turkeys (myself included) with expensive road bikes or designer running outfits— to consider pitching in (with food, water or warm clothes) on their physical activities outdoors because I knew they could afford it, and because people on the streets needed it especially as it was getting colder. We’re all these poser wannabe athletes and I was like, “Hey, let’s cut the shit, and be honest- we CAN and SHOULD be doing something.” Much to my surprise, the post went viral— like really viral, people shared it around the world. Many were jazzed on the concept of converting their physical movement into social movement. The response was a little overwhelming because I was flooded with inquiries and media coverage, I did a national health campaign with one of the biggest brands in Canada, I was asked to be on podcasts and to do talks in front of powerful people in my hometown. The whole time I was like, “Man, I’m just this regular dude doing this D.I.Y thing in my spare time…I don’t really know what else to say?” I didn’t aspire to be the face of anything, and I’ve kept things at bay by saying, “No” to a lot of requests to ensure I don’t become one. If anything, I just want people to know that small actions can have big reverberations. So, practice kindness and move beyond yourself.

What changed in you and in your life, because of that?

Nothing and everything! Sometimes I get recognized as ‘sandwich guy’ around Toronto, and the one material gain I received from it all, was a barista giving me a free banana once when I ordered a coffee one morning, ha ha. I could’ve cashed in on it- public speaker agencies were reaching out to me to sign me as a speaker— but I turned it all down, just not my vibe or intention. Even the health campaign I did for a big brand, I didn’t ask for a fee, instead, a donation of $25,000 was made to an organization that promotes physical literacy to young people in Canada…which is rad! Throughout it all, it just taught me how powerful one’s small actions can be. I’ve had about 65 million other realizations about privilege and purpose and becoming a better ally to marginalized groups on my walks that— if I were to share them— they’d be so longwinded I’d crash the internet! But, if I’m being completely honest though, the most life changing outcome of all the walking and sandwiches— beyond the move to better health— is that I met the woman of my dreams on a walk of sorts. It’s literally the most insane and romantic story ever!

You’ve begun taking on longer and longer walks, and aiming for larger and larger social impacts. What happens to you while you are walking? During your recent walk from Toronto to Buffalo, for instance, what happened inside you?

Yes, I got into endurance walks while simultaneously trying to think of new ways to retrofit my physical movement in ways that will deliver the most value to people who need help. In September 2016, I decided to do a continuous 125km walk from Toronto to Buffalo for Sprott House, the first transitional housing program of its kind for LGBTQ2SA youth in Canada. It’s based in my hometown, and was a no-brainer because I’m trying to become a better ally to marginalized groups. The walk was both easier and harder than I imagined it would be. We estimated it would take 25 continuous hours and I did in just under 20 hours…averaging 08:54 a kilometre. In these types of walks, what happens inside of me, is that I just get into a flow state for hours at a time, and I can blaze a quick pace. I align my breathing with my heartbeat as well as my stride, and I just become this movement machine. It’s like I tune out, I’m not even thinking, I’m just moving and flowing. It’s an incredible thing. However, during the walk, my body did start to break down. I reached a point where I couldn’t retain all the water I was drinking. I had to keep peeing…and I feel bad because I peed all over this last town I walked through! Sorry small town whose name I won’t type! But, luckily this happened right near the very end of my walk. Originally, I set out to raise $2,500 for Sprott House and I ended up raising over $27,000…so when the going got tough, I thought about all the donors who pitched in, and that gave me the strength to finish the walk.

What would you say to someone who’s not sure their movement really does matter?

You matter, your movement matters, and how you move matters; not just for you, but for others as well. Unrestrained movement— to me conceptually— is the definition of freedom. So, in a way, how we choose OR refuse to move, is an expression of either freedom or captivity / oppression. And, I do not mean this in a way that pertains to ablism / disablism, I mean this in terms of the cause-and-affect of movement, intention and action. In capitalistic societies, if you’re outsourcing your movement (from growing one’s own food to transportation itself), the slack is forcibly picked up by people likely being paid unfit wages in questionable conditions or by machines that burn fossil fuels and pollute. And, if the aforementioned isn’t compelling, I’ll end with a personal examples of why movement matters; it helped me lose 100lbs and reconnect with my body, movement was meditative and enabled me to put myself in check, movement helped me feed people in my community as well as around the world, converting my movement into a platform for fundraising helped me raise over $50,000 for two important causes in 2016, and movement brought me into the orbit of an amazing partner I hope to spend the rest of my life with!

 


By the Book: Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well

It’s October, and here on the eastern edge of the continent, that means changing leaves, frosty mornings, and earlier nights. The urge to cocoon is strong—but the season also offers amazing opportunities to be outside, a literal farmers’ market’s-worth of fresh, amazing produce, a deep desire to batch-cook soups and sauces, and, if we’re being honest, a to-do list as long as my arm.

We’re readying new books for publication this fall, getting our spring list in order, and dreaming of future projects to share with you, too. It can make for long days in the Propriometrics Press office—and it’s work that we love, so it’s easy to lose track of everything else while our noses are to the grindstone.

Which is why I’ve been making a few minutes every day to really think about the wisdom contained in one of the books we’re bringing out this fall. We published Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well on October 1, and authors Galina and Roland Denzel will hold a launch party for the book on October 15 in Orange County. We’re pretty excited about that. We worked hard on this book all year, and we’re pumped that it’s available now in stores and online. That part is all great. But one of the true perqs of this job is getting to dive deep into inspiring material every day. With Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, it’s the four key chapters identified by the Denzels as the ones readers should start with: The Sunday Food Ritual, Tame Your Sugar Monster, Walk More Today, The Dynamic Office.

It’s fitting this book is published in October, a perfect time to fully explore what these lessons have to offer. That Sunday Food Ritual chapter is about finding the time—making the time—to commit to setting yourself up for healthy food success all week by spending an afternoon or evening doing some batch cooking. img_2701In the example the Denzels give, you make a simple slow cooker pork pot roast with vegetables, which gives you enough for Sunday night’s supper, and two more suppers later in the week. Just the words slow cooker pork pot roast make me want to hit the kitchen—and thinking about having three suppers done and dusted in one go fills me with glee. Chilly October nights seem like a perfect time to get into this habit.

And I’m ever mindful that the holidays are approaching, with all their sugary delights, so October also seems like a good time to find a way to tame my sugar monster. There’s an abundance of fresh fruit to be had—plums, peaches, apples, pears, there are even still strawberries in my farmers’ market most Saturdays, though I’m sure there can’t be many strawberry Saturdays left. img_2705I’ve been savoring that fresh fruit as it comes in, and doing my best to can and preserve as much as I am able for the long winter nights to come. And with the cooler temperatures here, both day and night, Galina’s advice to sip a sweet-tasting herbal tea like licorice or rooibos feels like exactly the right thing to do while I contemplate my relationship with sugar, and why I want to be in charge, rather than letting sugar run the show.

And then there is the glorious exhortation to Walk More Today. It is the constant entry on my to-do list. No matter how much I walk, I can always walk more. This morning I kept my regular weekly appointment with a couple other writers at the central branch of the public library, downtown. Then I walked part-way home with one of the writers, stopping in at our local bookstore on the way, and chatting about our work as we went. We split off in different directions and I loped along, drinking in the impossibly clear, impossibly blue October sky, the heartbreaking reds and yellows and oranges of autumn leaves, the feeling of the sunshine on my skin, the expressions on the faces of the people I passed as I walked, and the company of my own thoughts. img_3457I concentrated on my gait as best I could, and then I just let my attention wander. I thought about the project I’m writing, and about the work awaiting me in the Propriometrics Press office. I returned to my desk feeling refreshed and nourished by my time outside, spent walking.

Speaking of my desk! I loved Roland’s chapter on The Dynamic Office. When I had a full-time media job, I sat for years and years, until finally one day I rebelled against the sit-down culture and made my own stand-up desk. Then I stood for years and years. Then I quit that job, and came to work for Propriometrics and started doing my work sitting on the floor, or lying on the floor, or while walking to the store, or standing in the kitchen, or—well, you get the idea. I’d do my work wherever I could, in as many different positions as I could. But not everyone has that kind of flexibility (if you will). Maybe you have to sit at a desk, and if that’s the case, Roland offers ideas and advice to make your desk time more dynamic, and, importantly, to make your non-desk time more dynamic to counteract all that undynamic desk time! fullsizerenderHis advice to keep a log of your daily time spent sitting was also world-rocking. I thought I was pretty dynamic—but there are always more ways to move.

And on that note, it’s time for me to get up, stretch a little, maybe get a cup of licorice tea, and walk to the store to get some supplies for supper for tonight and beyond. Sometimes the Sunday Ritual is really the Wednesday ritual. But as the book says, it doesn’t matter when you do it, so long as you get it done!


Beyond the Book: Tips for Summer Homeschooling

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I know, right? Who wants to think about homeschooling when it’s hot as h-e-double-hockey-sticks? Turns out, you can help your kids cool off…and teach them a little something at the same time. Sneaky, huh? Our author Alison Bernhoft has been thinking about this. You can read Entropy Academy, her memoir of a homeschooling family, while the kids while away a hot afternoon with a little surreptitious science. Read more from Alison, below!

“Who goes out in the midday sun?
“Mad dogs and Englishmen”
This little couplet runs through my brain every year when the temperature in SoCal inches towards 100 and I recall the land of my birth. There, in the halcyon days before the climate went berserk and triple digits invading Buckingham Palace became almost commonplace, something quite extraordinary happened: pretty much any time the sun put in an appearance, no matter how brief, every piece of turf, no matter how minuscule, was instantly covered with sweating bodies roasting painful shades of reddish pink, slowly turning as if on an invisible communal spit. “Carpe solem” might be their motto: seize the sun.
Let us now leave my ex-countrymen, and turn instead to the suburban back yards of the US where the cry rings out, “I’m too hot, Mom, it’s too ho-o-t, Mom, MOM, I said, ITS TOO HOT!” (As if the current heatwave had been entirely mom’s idea . . .) Here are a few of my favorite things to do with hot, crotchety children:

  • Set the little ones loose to “paint” the driveway, the flowers, and each other with paint brushes and water.
  • Put two buckets of water on the grass (or any thirsty ground) with measuring cups, empty yogurt pots, plastic toys, and ping pong balls (hold them underwater and let go – whose will shoot highest into the air?)
  • Buy some cheap synthetic bath sponges, hold them underwater, then SPLOSH! Wettest game of catch EVER!
  • Give each child a 2-liter soda bottle full of water, and see who can empty theirs fastest. Is it quicker to twirl and shake the bottle or simply hold it still?
  • Teach them a little anatomy. Where does blood flow closest to the skin’s surface? Fill a bucket with cold water and give each child a wash cloth to dip in it. Have them slosh the wet cloths on various body parts – knees, shoulders, feet, the back of the neck, tummy . . . Eventually, help them notice that a wet cloth on the back of the neck is a dynamite cooler-offer. Why? Because blood flow to and from  the all-important head all passes through the neck, where veins lie close to the surface. Can they make an ice-filled sock cooler that will stay tied around their necks as the ice cubes melt in a delectable, icy trickle?
  • Think ahead: put containers of your own devising filled with water in the freezer overnight (just for fun, add a little oil to one and see what happens.) Melt them in the sun, in shade, in water. Which is fastest?
  • For a grand finale, have everyone dip their heads into the bucket, then SHAKE like a mad dog.
    But please, whatever you do, stay out of the midday sun!

Feel better—today!

EWMWLW-store-coverBehind the scenes here at Propriometrics Press we’ve been busy editing, proofing, designing, amending, editing some more, proofing some more, designing some more, proofing one more time and then finally sending off to press our forthcoming book Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, by Roland and Galina Denzel. And amid all that proofing and editing and designing has been so much excitement about this book. The subtitle is 52 Ways to Feel Better in a Week, and it’s been so amazing to have this sneak peek opportunity. Despite the long hours we’ve been pulling getting this book ready to go, we’ve also found time to incorporate some of the Denzels’ lessons in our own daily lives—and we’re so totally super stoked that it’s time to give you a chance to do that, too! In other words…

We are pleased to announce the pre-sale of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well! Click over to our pre-sale page for all the details. And note, we’re so excited about this book, we’ll pick up the shipping and handling on your order! And we’re offering four of the Denzels’ favorite lessons free when you order, and access to a free online course with Roland and Galina, starting next month. Don’t delay—feel better today!


Come work with us!

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Propriometrics Press is looking for a director of social media! We are a “practice what you publish” company so rather than hiring a large firm that represents many books full time, we’re looking for someone wanting to do a little part-time work throughout the course of their day, to organically represent the ideas and lifestyles featured in our books.

Conducting author interviews, writing occasional blog posts, monitoring the social media of our authors and building a relationship with their brands and ideas will make up the bulk of this 5-hour a week job. It’s important that you’re a writer with the ability to bring personality and verve to your posts. We want you to be the face of our social media! We are seeking someone who aspires to include graphics and visual features to such posts—bonus if you have an interest and ability in creating them!

Any expertise in publishing is valuable but not essential. What is essential is that you’re stoked on our titles, a hard worker, able to contribute fresh media ideas and not just execute to-do’s, and have a fluidity in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Being positive and funny goes a long way as well!

To apply, create three sample posts for our Twitter, Facebook, and IG (feel free to mock up images using any of our graphics or covers; we’re not looking for perfection, but your presentation and communication style. To that end, please do include links to your own personal social media—we’d love to see your style in action. If you want to include any other pertinent information in your email regarding your work history, please do! Job is a salaried position, $600/mo. Get in touch with us about this at info@propriometricspress.com


From the editor’s desk: Why publishers want you on social media

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Our editor-in-chief, Penelope Jackson, writes:

Your writing is flawless, your ideas are brilliant, your manuscript is clearly magnificent. What more could a publisher possibly want?

Well, a lot, actually. (Sorry.) There are many ways to impress a publisher, whether you are a seasoned author, a newly signed neophyte, or a writer still trying to land your first book deal. But one of the most straightforward ways you can make a good impression on us is to show that you can use social media, well and wisely.

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From the editor’s desk: Pitching to Publishers

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Our editor-in-chief, Penelope Jackson, writes:

 

I love working acquisitions, but I notice common issues with the submissions I receive. So below are a few tips on how to approach a publisher (such as us) with your brilliant idea. These ideas are pretty basic, and if you have not already considered each of these items on your own, then you are almost certainly not ready to pitch just yet.

1. Know your target audience.  Imagine who you want to read your book, and think of some ways you will be able to speak to this demographic—both in your writing and through marketing channels. Be well versed in books people in that demographic have likely already read that are similar to your project, and know inside and out how your book is different (see also: item 3). Show the publisher that you understand who must read your book.READ MORE


Off the Page with Propriometrics Press Authors: Alison Bernhoft

Meet the author of Entropy Academy: How to Succeed at Homeschooling Even if You Don’t Homeschool.

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How difficult was it to make the decision to homeschool?

When we started to homeschool way back in the 1980s, it was considered a pretty freaky thing to do. While I rather fancied myself as a rebel, I had to face facts: at stake was my son’s education, not to mention that of his siblings, and their future academic success. Was it a monster ego indulgence on my part to think that I could do better than professional, fully trained teachers?

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Off the Page with Propriometrics Press Authors: Galina and Roland Denzel

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Meet the authors of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well: 52 Ways to Feel Better in a Week, forthcoming from Propriometics Press in Fall 2016

1. How did you two meet?

Roland: We first met online, on a fitness forum. We later connected via email and Skype, and then a few years later met in person at The Fitness Summit. It was love at first sight for me, and we hung out a lot that weekend. She didn’t know it was on purpose, but I deliberately missed my flight home to hang out with her for one more day.

Galina: What struck me was that Roland was as nice and open to communication in person as he was online. You rarely meet people whose online and in person presence matches. It was an instant friendship, like we had known each other forever!

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