I've just completed another project marrying exercise and literature. This time, I spent a month attempting the splits, whilst sitting and reading.
I was juggling another project at the time of this and didn't have the time I thought I would, but I still made steady improvement.
At the start of the month my feet were 1m 37cm apart from each other. By the end, they were 1m 50cm: a 13cm improvement. By measuring the inside of my legs- up one leg and down the other- I can work out that the distance apart my feet would be if I was doing the full splits is 1m 66cm.
By my estimation, getting that far would take just over another month, at my current pace. And my current pace hasn't been as fast as I'd hoped: as mentioned, I'd not spent as long sat in that position as I'd planned to. I'm tempted to give it another go just to see if I can get Van-Damme-level stretching. But with it being National Poetry Month I'm a little snowed under, and with summer around the corner I'll want to get out of the house and get my vit D as much as possible. Trying the splits outside when you live on a council estate in Oldham will result in the same treatment you'd get if you tried selling Al Qaeda terror training brochures from your car boot. (You'd get the crap beaten out of you.)
Advice if you're going to do this project:
- Find a door frame that isn't at the joint of two walls. Keep the door open. I used the doorway from my lounge to my kitchen.
- Keep a light on to illuminate the book.
- Wear socks and soft, warm clothing.
- Sit facing the door with your feet on the glossed skirting board. Butt-scoot in until you feel a slight strain at the top of the legs.
- If you can, grip the door frame to stay upright and to edge your legs apart a little more. Be VERY careful with this. Don't pull a muscle. Also be sure the door isn't going to close on your fingers.
- Stay in that position for a few minutes. When you've read a full chapter, test your flexibility. You'll soon notice a slight increase in stretching ability.
So what did I read? I was juggling two books.
Life's a Pitch: How to Sell Yourself and Your Brilliant Ideas
I picked up this Stephen Bayley / Roger Mavity joint venture in the Design Museum in Greenwich. When you want something, and someone else has it, you need to pitch them. It could be a potential romantic partner. It could be a raise in your job. You might have a great business idea that needs financial backing. This book tells you how to pitch. It's written with wit, charm, buckets of research and a few cocky, surprising revelations. I was a little confused as to the formatting, though. Quotes from the text were occasionally blown up to break up the text, like in a magazine. Isn't this done to keep the attention of the reader, who- when reading a magazine- might flip to another article? With a book, don't readers read in chronological order? So isn't this quoting unnecessary?
The content, though, was fascinating and the delivery brilliant.
Copywriting: Successful writing for design, advertising and marketing
Copywriter Mark Shaw's 2nd edition of his guide to producing great copy is an interesting, vibrant insight into the copywriting business. Good informative writing sidles up next to replicated posters and website screenshots, with copy text reproduced alongside so you can clearly read the adverts. Well explained and presented. Most of the book covers advertising, but the final chapter delves into the online world- a good introduction to internet copywriting such as blogging and use of Twitter. The subject matter in this last section could really warrant a whole extra book, but that's a different issue.
The one missing answer in the book is to this question: how the hell do you get a job in copywriting? How do you get someone to PAY you to do this, now you know how to do it? No-one I have ever met could answer that question. Hence, I'm still a business support officer.
Practicing the splits will incur steady progress, but now I'm boxing twice a week that may still happen (as part of the cool-down we stretch off). I'll continue to occasionally test flexibility this way, but to focus on this for a full month I'd be better off trying again in autumn once it's cooled off.
Give it a shot yourself- let me know how it goes!