Part of getting older is getting better. And part of getting better is learning new things.
One of the great advantages of living in Southern California is the diversity of culture and opportunity for exploration. To put it another way, there’s A LOT of people living here and many of them are all about teaching you new, interesting, and unique skills.
From fire dancing to wild food foraging to getting really, really good with a bow and arrow, if you’ve ever thought about doing it, there’s probably a class for it.
With that in mind, here’s a quick list of unusual (at least to some folks) skills you might be pick up in and around the Los Angeles area if the spirit moves you, along with some suggestions for where to start.
Maybe it’ll spark an idea or two.
1. Wild Foraging
Getting in touch with where our food comes from reconnects us with our environment and makes us appreciate what we ultimately put into our bodies. It can also be a delightfully delicious experience. There’s probably no one in L.A. whose knows more about wild edibles than Pascal Baudar and Mia Wasilevich, co-owners of Urban Outdoor Skills, which offers an incredibly unique selection of urban foraging classes, fermentation and food preservation workshops, and wild food gastronomy adventures.
2. Basic Survival Skills
The California Survival School down in Brea offers a one-day core survival skills class that help you learn the basics of friction fire, making shelter, finding and purifying water, wild eats, and overall survival keystones. The Survival School also offers team-building adventures, classes on ancient artisanship and trap making, or even more immersive weekend-long courses.
No doubt watching some of the Hunger Games franchise has you itching to get your hands on a bow and arrow and see just how hard it could be. Luckily there are several local archery groups that offer free beginner classes perfect to get your feet wet. Woodley Park Archers offers free introductory archery instruction to the community, designed specifically for the beginner / novice who has no previous experience handling a bow. Classes are held every Saturday from 9:00am to 11:00am and on Wednesdays from 6:00pm to 8:00 pm. There is absolutely no cost to join, and all equipment is provided. Likewise, the Pasadena Roving Archers offer free Saturday instruction for first-timers
More information (Woodley Park Archers)
More information (Pasadena Roving Archers)
Creating pottery is equal parts craftsmanship, art, patience, and skill. It’s also one of the most ancient practices of our human civilization, and for people who really love working with their hands, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. If you want to get started in L.A., Echo Ceramics offers beginner level classes that are four weeks long and include all materials, tools, instruction, and unlimited practice time and clay during open hours.
5. Rock Climbing
Rock climbing can offer a great way to reach a new level of fitness while getting in touch with nature, but you’ll probably want to start off in a safe indoor environment before transitioning your fundamental skills out into the wild. A great place to get started is with a 30 minute introductory bouldering class at LA Boulders, a 11,500 sq. ft. bouldering space (largest in the country!) located in The Arts Disctrict. If you’re looking for something closer to the west side, keep an eye out for the opening of Cliffs of ID, which is owned and operated by Touchstone Climbing, the same folks who run LA Boulders.
Flying through the air with the greatest of ease sounds all well and good, but your better know what you’re doing. The folks over at the Trapeze School of New York (located in Santa Monica) offer one of the finest instructional trapeze experiences in town. If you can get past the nerve-wracking nature of the heights, you could have the time of your life…
7. Cheese Making
It is said that the art of making cheese actually pre-dates recorded history, but have you ever wondered how the process The folks over at Wheelhouse Cheese in Culver City offer a cheese 101 class (usually monthly) where you can learn the basics of how cheese is made and aged, the core cheese types, and the fundamentals of buying, storing, tasting and pairing cheese, plus a selection of tastings. If you want to get more hands-on, consider the Cheese Whiz class offered by Hipcooks, which allows you to not only learn the basics but try your luck making Ricotta, Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, Mascarpone and Fromage Fort (plus LOTS of sample at the end!).
More information (Wheelhouse Cheese)
More information (Hipcooks)
8. Fire Dancing
Picture yourself twirling a staff engulfed in flames on either side all while dancing to a rhythmic beat. Sound just weird enough to be totally awesome? Check out the folks over at Fire Groove, whose mission is to “help you release your inner bad-ass!”
Do you know how many stones you throw per inning? Would you made good skip? Sweeper? You probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but after some beginner lessons at Hollywood Curling you’ll go from “newbie to league contender” in no time.
What are some unusual classes you’ve taken in Los Angeles? Let us know where to learn new stuff in the comments below!