In this show, biomechanist and author, Katy Bowman introduces her new book on kid and family movement, Grow Wild, with some publishing industry dialogue on what makes a coffee table book. Katy also answers an important gait question while on foot.
Get your copy of Grow Wild at www.GrowWildBook.com.
As always, you can find the transcript and supporting links under PODCAST TRANSCRIPTS at NutritiousMovement.com.
00:01:19 - Is it? Or isn't it? – Jump to section
00:18:29 - Pre-order and the Virtual Launch Party - Jump to section
00:22:01 - Reader Question - Number of steps, form ... or both? A Walkservation. - Jump to section
00:26:07 - The solution - it's both! – Jump to section
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE SHOW
Hello! I am Katy Bowman and this is the Move Your DNA podcast. I am a biomechanist and the author of multiple books on movement including a new one on the way. More on that in a minute. On this show, we talk about how movement works on the cellular level, how to move more, and how to move more of your parts, as well as how movement works between bodies and in the world - also known as movement ecology. All bodies are welcome here. Are you ready to get moving?
KATY: Hi friends! It’s a long time no talk! Spring is on the way and what a better time to do a little spring cleaning. In fact, today's episode is cleaning up a few to-do items that I have on this podcast list: to answer another of your questions on walking and most importantly, to let you know all about Grow Wild: The Whole-Child, Whole-Family, Nature-Rich Guide to Moving More - my new book to help kids and folks that love and care for them move more. And also how you can be the first to score not only your very own copy but how you can get a ticket to the book’s virtual launch party.
To do that, though, I’m bringing in two guests: my husband, Michael Curran, and Propriometrics Press’ marketing director and my friend, Roland Denzel. Welcome, Michael and Roland.
MICHAEL: Thank you!
ROLAND: Thank you for having me!
KATY: So, I’ve been working on Grow Wild for more than two years. And it’s a different book than I’ve ever written before: it is full color and includes over 200 glossy images. And I designed it to not only speak to adults through words but to adults and children through images. The images are there to inform everyone, but especially children - that children are quite capable of moving at a different capacity than perhaps they are right now. So on that note, I overheard my husband talk about Grow Wild with someone and he described it – well, I’ll let him say how he described it.
MICHAEL: I am very excited about this book because I grew up on coffee table books. And we have pictures, you know, to learn from. As so "I'm super excited that Katy has a coffee table book coming out" is what she caught me saying to our friends and she seemed annoyed by it.
KATY: Well, it did lead to a big discussion on why I felt it was absolutely NOT a coffee table book.
MICHAEL: snickers in the background.
KATY: So in a marketing meeting for Grow Wild, I bought this ridiculous description of Grow Wild up to Roland, and I said something like “Hey Roland, can you believe Michael just described Grow Wild as a coffee table book” to which Roland said:
ROLAND: That's what I've been calling it. Yeah. It's like I've been describing it... Galina, my wife, asked what Grow Wild was like and I said, "It's like a coffee table book. It's so beautiful." And so, Katy went "huh". And then I think she immediately rethought what, Michael, what you thought, as well.
KATY: I immediately froze the conversation at this point so we could have it here. So we could have it, I mean, I'll say, publicly. Because Roland has over 20 years in the publishing industry. Maybe more. How many years do you have?
ROLAND: I'm gonna say 27.
KATY: If we're gonna round in the way my children are learning to round numbers that's closer to 30 than 20. So you have 27 years in the publishing industry and Michael has set, I'm sure, hundreds of cups of coffee on at least 20 different coffee tables in his life. So he's also sort of an expert. So I wanted to hear both of you out to get to the bottom of this question: Is Grow Wild a coffee table book or not? So here’s my first question for each of you: What does a coffee table book mean to you, Roland? And then Michael.
ROLAND: To me a coffee table book is, at its most basic, is a book that looks good enough and has an intriguing look to it that you can leave out on the coffee table or the side table and people will be inclined to pick it up to learn more about it. To flip through it. And often they will flip often to a specific portion of the book and just kind of get sucked in. Now, they're better when they have a beautiful cover, and they have beautiful images. And so it's almost like a piece of decoration in addition to being a useful piece of literature.
KATY: Ok, so, beautiful images, one. That's absolutely also how I think about coffee table books. But what I hear you say is also a great conversation piece. And then sort of this idea that you're lured into it because it's beautiful. And then from there, you're able to extract an idea. So I'm ok with that. And then, now Michael, what's a coffee table book to you?
MICHAEL: Well I guess to me the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words is - and I don't like reading. It hurts my eyes. I don't enjoy the physical act of reading. So to have something that has beautiful pictures that I can learn from and generally, I mean when I think of coffee table books that I grew up on, and there are many, it's usually captions rather than things that are really written out. The photography is the art. So to me, it's a book that the pictures are so informative that you want to look through it. And you want to look through it again and again. It's not just a go through it once and you've got the idea. So it's just, quite literally, a book that you want to leave out on your coffee table to flip through the pictures.
KATY: Ok so I hear both of those things. So to me, a coffee table book, and I think, Roland, in our earlier discussion this sort of came up is, to me the idea of a coffee table book is not that it's mostly photos, or as Michael just said, captions. The amount of writing to photos in a coffee table book as I'm used to thinking about it is, lots of photos, sort of caption-y, insubstantial in terms of ideas. So that's my, I think that's sort of my main resistance to it being a coffee table book is, this is actually a big idea book. This book, in this book, I'm using beautiful photographs, yes, to convey big ideas. Right? I really selected photos that weren't only beautiful as sort of adornment for the ideas but rather could be instructional in themselves. That when I didn't have, I mean this book is 400 pages long. Which go to your bookshelves right now and try to find another 400-page book and it's going to be something like a field guide. You know or Great Expectations or something. There's not that many books that are printed that are that big. And I had to cut out half, the essential volume two of words. So I was trying to pick images that wouldn't necessarily reiterate what I was saying or wouldn't only reiterate but would also provide some extra examples that I hadn't written out in words so that they would stand in each for extra words. So I think my resistance is mostly the idea that it's going to be perceived as decoration. One, that it's decoration, and two there's an entire section on furniture free in the book so the idea that it is actually a book for furniture, there's a whole paradox in itself. This is a book for the floor. You're gonna have to just throw it on the floor because that's where you're gonna need to be sitting when you're done reading it.
MICHAEL: If I can pull something out of the Grow Wild book, it's not decoration as much as it's adornment. It is a book to adorn your home with useful ideas about going furniture-free. And I also wanted to draw your attention, I don’t remember the names of the books, but they have many beautiful pictures and one of them has all the people around the world who bring their furniture out...
KATY: Oh that's a great book...
MICHAEL: It's very photo-driven but it's very, very informative. The other one was they had people take a picture of their kitchen with all of their foodstuffs out. And again, to me, these are coffee table books, and they are huge idea books. The idea of seeing at a glance what people around the world have as their possessions. Or have as their foodstuffs. So to me, coffee table books, at least the ones that I have tuned in to are very big idea books.
KATY: So I ran to the bookshelf. So have you seen Hungry Planet? These books are amazing. Ok now that you say that, I actually pulled these books out... what's the other one called? So Hungry Planet is a huge book. Full color. Close to 300 pages. That is amazing that shows what the world eats. It's a very great cross-cultural book. But I will also say that I have very rarely used this book to read. I sort of use it for the images because the images are so informative. And I just really want people to actually read the text of Grow Wild. So I think that it's... maybe it's great if you don't read it?
ROLAND: So there are, and I'm sure Michael will agree with me because he's so brilliant, is that there's a variety of coffee table books, right? A cookbook could be a coffee table book if the pictures are nice enough, right? And you can learn a lot from a cookbook. Or there's, I had, growing up, I had a coffee table book on our coffee table and our side table for years about Borneo. Because I spent a year in Borneo and my parents bought this book of Borneo back. And we left it out there. And when I talk about Borneo my friends and family could all see what Borneo was like when we were there. But there were a lot, there were a lot of beautiful pictures but in a lot of ways but the pictures were almost like a visual headline. So you see the picture and you think, "Oh that's really interesting." And if there's a caption with the picture that's even better. And then you flip to the next page and you have a little bit about that. So it was a good mix of words, pictures, and captions. But we had coffee table books that were just really beautiful books that are smaller books too, that are very dense too but they look good enough, and they're intriguing enough for people that you do want to leave out. So a coffee table book can sort of run the gamut.
KATY: So is this a coffee table book? Is that the answer? I guess the answer is yes.
ROLAND: It can be.
KATY: It can be a coffee table book and... I don’t know what else to say. Am I going to be describing this as a coffee table book? We don't even have a coffee table.
MICHAEL: We don't have a coffee table so it makes it hard to describe it that way. And calling it a toilet book is...
KATY: Well, accurate.
MICHAEL: Really accurate for coffee table books around here.
ROLAND: I like to say some books are good toilet books but I really don't want people to spend that much time on the toilet. So it would be better to have the book out on the living room floor. We do have a coffee table but we use it to sit on.
KATY: That's right.
ROLAND: We use it to sit around. We sit on the floor and that's basically our dinner table. We have very small coffee tables that are modular and they slide around. So we use those as coffee tables. And we do sometimes have books on them and they cannot be those huge, like that huge book you just showed, we could not have that on our coffee table. But that huge book could sit on the floor and be a coffee table unto itself.
KATY: Or a platform for you to perch yourself on while you're sitting. So maybe we're gonna have to call it a low table book. Because our coffee tables, too, have always been repurposed as our desks or kitchen table. So they're just table books.
MICHAEL: I think it's definitely a low table book.
KATY: It's a low table book. Wow.
MICHAEL: There's a spectrum of 400- page books. At one end you have Great Expectations and at the other end, you have a pure photo expository on something wonderful. And previous Katy Bowman books are closer to the Great Expectations end of the spectrum...
KATY: Very wordy.
MICHAEL: Very, very wordy. No just kidding. And this one is more towards the coffee table end of the spectrum than the other Bowman books.
KATY: So if I have to think of this book as the intersection of lots of different books, how I would describe it, and maybe it's worth noting, it just occurred to me right now, I grew up with no coffee table books. We didn't have a coffee table or a coffee table book. So they're not sort of warm and fuzzy and speaking of home and family and previous experience. But the way it feels to me and looks to me is more like a field guide. Which would also potentially be a coffee table book in that it's highly visual. I did write it so you could flip to a section. It does not have to be read beginning to end. Although there is certainly a complete, most robust book I've ever written in that way. But also made it so you could drop in by environment. Like if you just wanted to get the book and start thinking about home, you don't have to really glob onto the larger thread for the book, you could just see via pictures or smaller sections, "right we're gonna make that adjustment. I hadn't really thought about that." So to me if it would be like a field guide that you would want to share with your friends via some public space where they will see it? Seems like coffee table book is more concise.
MICHAEL: Yeah you definitely lost the conciseness with that description.
KATY: It happens a lot.
ROLAND: If you went to a coffee house in town, wouldn't you be thrilled to see your book on their coffee table?
KATY: YES! Yes, so that example resonates with me. You would feel great about this book being out as something, as stimulating... now I actually want to open up a coffee house where a cool book like Hungry Planet and What the World Eats, and Grow Wild, and Borneo and all these other books are just sort of out so that you can learn something while you're there. Don't just sit there - read something.
ROLAND: The other thing I'll point out about coffee table books. Coffee table books get a bad rap because they're the last-minute gift idea. You walk into the book store and they have all those coffee table books on display and if you go to Barnes and Noble or Borders when it existed there was a whole, a discount, everything was 30% off in the section - there's a whole bunch of coffee table books was the primary thing in there. But this is the perfect, because it's so visual, right, and because it looks so good, it's the perfect gifting book. Right? And you know you can give that to somebody and it's not like, like a lot of health books you would say, "are you saying that I'm fat?" or "are you saying that I need to move more?" It's like, no, this is a beautiful book that gives ideas for moving more, more naturally, and just integrating into your life. Just living your life in a way that brings health to you. And I think everyone would want that. I think people will be thrilled to unwrap this book.
KATY: Yeah it's definitely a gift book. So I'm ok with those two conditions. The fact that it would be on a table somewhere out, or the fact that you would want to gift it. I am hoping that Grow Wild sort of becomes the baby shower gift instead of What To Expect When You're Expecting. It's like what about after that? What about right after that? And since movement and environment is such a concern...not a concern but it's such an environment in which we're willing to consider at that stage, I'm really hoping this becomes the gift that you give people for baby showers or newborn or your birthday presents.
MICHAEL: The perfect coffee table book for the baby shower. That doesn't really feel right.
ROLAND: Tagline. But I love the thoughts!
KATY: Ok well thank you for helping me work through that.
MICAHEL: You're welcome. I feel like we're much closer.
KATY: Much closer.
You can pre-order books a few different ways. But most often it’s gonna be from Amazon or from the publisher. When you pre-order from the publisher they make nearly seven times more money on that individual book compared to when it’s bought off of Amazon. So, publisher pre-sold copies is how they’re able to pay for getting the book made. So to get you to do that, they’ve asked me to sweeten their pre-sale deal. So this is why I am telling podcast folks about the publisher’s deal. Those with U.S. or Canadian addresses can order at GrowWildBook.com by April 1st and not only get your copy but also an immediate download for your fridge: 30 Ways To Move With Kids Right Now, that I created. But you also a ticket to the book’s Virtual Launch Party where I will be there, live, answering your questions but not only me (drumroll)...
Dani Hemmat, this podcasts’ original host, (audience clapping) will be there as the MC. That’s right. You are excited now. And by you, I mean auto, am I right? Am I right? Anyway, there's gonna be lots of other giveaways: free minimal shoes and books and so many other cool things. We’re also making it family fun so the kids can watch along too. But there's one more thing that I didn’t say. For every pre-order purchased at GrowWildBook.com, you get an entry into a drawing and the winner of that drawing gets a free one-hour live session with me, on the phone, or via computer Skype or Zoom to work out really some of your family's particular issues that you would like me to weigh in on specifically. Or we can just hang out and have tea. Your choice if you win. So again, pre-order Grow Wild at GrowWildbook.com by April 1st. Get your copy hot off the press. If you are out of the United States or Canada, don’t worry! You can just get a ticket to the party at GrowWildBook.com. And if you’re in the United States or Canada and you're just waiting for the e-book or audiobook versions which are separate from the paperback presale - and, yes there's going to be an audiobook, yay! - you can also just grab a ticket at that same website, GrowWildBook.com. And, by the way, those two coffee table books that we were talking about earlier, I just went to find them. And their titles are Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, and Material World: A global family portrait. Both of those books are fantastic. I highly recommend them. And I’ll link to where you can find them in the show notes.
Ok, next up in cleaning up loose podcast ends: back to walking questions. I was out walking, again with my husband, and before I left I had just happened to glance at the list of remaining walking questions and there was one on there that was so good and I knew that it would probably take 10 minutes just to sort of, I'm gonna say meander through the answer and I mean that literally and figuratively. And I tried to stack answering it with a hike.
MC and KB outside
KATY: Yeah, this is a great question. Probably the most important question. Or certainly, one that most people are considering. And it doesn't have to only do with walking, it can be whatever thing you're trying to make progress to or towards. So when I walked 440 miles for my 44th birthday last year, I was walking 10 miles a day. And being able to walk 10 miles a day pretty much took all my extra time. I had to pull time out of my ears. You know, if I had an hour for stretching or doing corrective exercise or restorative work, that actually had to go to walking. There's only so much time that we have. And what I noticed was accumulating that volume of steps in the absence of doing those things that I know my body needs to support those steps for me specifically it's dealing with my left ankle and hip. So my left ankle and hip don't sit in an alignment that allows them to use really my calf and my hamstring and my glute on one side as well as my opposite side. Normally when I'm walking 5 miles or 7 miles a day and also doing 20-60 minutes of corrective exercises (not all at once but throughout the day) that doesn't bug me. I'm able to do sort of the alignment work and my gait in the context of a day. Or most days per week. I could not do it when I had increased my volume so much. So I had to back down with my walking and use some of that time to go back to form because my walking was no longer - it wasn't good for all of me. Right? So that's how I made that decision. I made a decision based on how I was feeling by doing my steps. I was getting my steps but the steps had lost some of their nutrition. So I was like, well at this point, walking was still, it's still bringing me joy, it was still helping me transport my body from point a to point b, but I was able to make a decision that I could do less of it in favor for the sedentary parts of my body that were not benefitting from that walk. So that’s what was going on there. So my answer would be that the answer to that question depends on you. And how your walking is currently feeling. The volume of it. If it's leaving you feeling improved. If it's leaving you feeling like less. Like I did a walk ... and it's hard because it's not necessarily worse off. Like I still reaped the benefits of walking those 10 miles. Even if my hip and ankle didn't, my whole body felt amazing. Like my whole person. My mind, my soul, those needs were being met. And that's what makes this so tricky, is, I think a lot of us pursue what we will call whole body moves because they make our minds and our souls sing, but my ankle and my left hip, not so much. They're like hey, mind, soul, good for you, but I do'nt feel so good. So it's like really seeing yourself as a whole person and seeing all the individual parts and really trying to balance your decisions for the sake of both of those perspectives.
There's so many things about walking form: if you did the Walking Well course with Jill Miller and me, there are so many pieces about what a stride looks like. How you hold your ribcage, where you hold your head. All of that can be done while you're actually on a walk. So for example right now as we are out on a walk, you can look down at your feet. I'm going to look down at my feet. You can look at the position that they're pointing. You can make an adjustment. You can stop. I'm gonna stop and I'm gonna find my neutral knee pits. I'm going to do a little bit of external rotation. And I'm gonna use that neutral knee pit behind me to reach the ball of my feed down. I'm gonna do a little bit of what we call forefoot eversion. And then I'm gonna take 7 or 8 slow steps and really think about pushing off. I'm still on a walk. My heart and my soul are still singing. My left ankle just got invited a little bit more to the party. Right? So I'm starting to see the integration between the correctives and... or the smaller pieces (and I'm gonna start going a little bit faster) the smaller pieces and the whole activity. And I think that is something that folks will also ask me a lot. "Where do these individual pieces fit into the bigger picture?" And think about your calf stretch. If you stand on one leg and then your body goes forward, your calf has to get longer. Your ankle joint has to get smaller while you're still holding it on a single leg. Pelvic list? What if you walked in slow motion and thought about your pelvic list carrying your weight from your right foot to your left foot to your right foot. All of these exercises that you've been doing when they're sped up and often not done to the fullest form that we would do them as stand-alone exercises, when you do that, speed them up and do them to a lesser degree is the easiest way of saying that, you will find them, or feel them, in your walk. And then you can also just straight up stop your walk and find something to put your foot up and stretch your calf. I lead a lot of group walks, long-distance walks. And a big portion of those long-distance walks is regularly stopping to do a pelvic list, to do a calf stretch, to do a thoracic stretch, to remind you these things go into this other thing that you're doing. These corrective exercises are part of the big walk. Just when we do a big walk we strap on (I was gonna say a walkman. If you have a picture of you with a walkman please send me a picture asap.) You've got earphones on and you're sort of checked out from your walking. We're trying to use our walk to enjoy maybe entertainment, maybe education, maybe you're listening to this as you're walking. Maybe you're walking with a friend and you want to connect. But you might want to have a portion of your walk just for a walk observation. And that way you don't have to choose between corrective exercises and walking time. You can do them both at the same time, which is really the movement permaculture approach.
MICHAEL: It's a walkservation.
KATY: A walkservation is observing yourself as you walk? Ok. I'll go with that. Anything you want to add?
MICHAEL: No, I just added it.
KATY: All right. Great!
Ok, that’s a wrap – thanks to everyone for listening. If you don’t get my newsletter, first of all, why don’t you? And second of all, go sign up for it immediately at NutritiousMovement.com. Or don’t but head over to that website anyway and go to the blog because I wrote three new articles this last month: one is how to stay active and outside well. How to do those well during really cold winter weather, which we in the United States in 2021 are definitely having this year. Another article is on another very cool way to bolster yourself with a chair in order to be able to do a lunge if you have sore knees. And in that article, there’s also a video of me breaking it down. Go check that one out. And also, last but not least, 30 books. You guys love my book lists. I know I love making them. I am such a huge book nerd and book fan. 30 books to get kids from toddlers to teenagers to connect to nature and moving more through nature. These are not how-to books. These are really storybooks. Let the story do some of the teaching stories in an innate human way that we learn about the world. So go to your library and then literally check out some of those titles.
This has been Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman, a podcast about movement. Hopefully, you find the general information in this podcast informative and helpful. But it is not intended to replace medical advice and should not be used as such.