12.29.2011
By Terry Flanagan

A Better Year: Fitness & Self

A better mind and a better body: we’ve all resolved to have one–or both–for every new year. Take a pass on buying the fancy at-home gym equipment or stacking up on books you may not have time to read. Instead, take a more proactive approach to growth and fitness: commit to a course or, better yet, a cause.

IF YOU CAN STAND THE HEAT, GET IN THE KITCHEN.

Sharpen your culinary skills by taking a course (or two). Start with the basics if you’re a newbie, or branch out into exotic cuisines if you’re more advanced at wielding a knife. Bonus points if you take a course on healthy cooking. For New York and Chicago, we suggest:

  • French Culinary Institute, New York: No, the Institute isn’t for French cuisine only. Check out their Serious Amateur department’s “Essentials of Fine Cooking” course, sure to teach you everything you need to know, no matter what’s on your menu. 462 Broadway, New York | 888.324.2433 | www.frenchculinary.com
  • Natural Gourmet Institute, New York: Specializing in healthy foods, authentic techniques, and exotic cuisines, this school offers public courses that range from Knife Basics to Brazilian tapas, Chinese hot pot, Indian curries, and Greek orektika. Once you’ve learned to make your own, you may never want to order out again. 48 W. 21st St., 2nd Floor, New York | 212-645-5170 | www.naturalgourmetinstitute.com
  • Le Cordon Bleu, Chicago: Notable alums from this international institution include heavyweights such as Julia Child and Mario Batali, and if you sign up for their MasterChef Non-Professional Cooking Classes, you’ll be on that list too. With courses taught by Le Cordon Bleu chefs, this program has everything from basic courses to seasonal cuisines. 361 West Chestnut, Chicago | 888.295.7222 | www.chefs.edu/chicago

LEARN TO SPEAK IN TONGUES…AT HOME.

Foreign tongues, that is. If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably endured the rather embarrassing experience of having to stammer out “please sir, where is the restroom?” in the middle of a restaurant in a strange city or have a dusty box of unused Rosetta Stone CDs neglected somewhere on a shelf. Skip the tortuous classes and learn at home with a tutor, where you can bumble through those tricky foreign phrases in comfort.

  • Rennert Language School, New York: Offering 8 different languages that can be taught either at the school, in your office (via a corporate program), or at your home, Rennert’s program focuses on teaching by conversation–the way you learned to speak your native language as a child. Check out their semi-private small group classes or their private classes. 216 E. 45th St., 7th Floor, New York | 212-867-8700 | www.rennert.com
  • Polyglot Tutoring, Chicago: This school’s “Face to Face” private program brings school to your home. With customizable programs for French and Spanish, Polyglot offers classes that evaluate your abilities, goals (business, travel, just for the heck of it?), and then tracks your progress. 3023 N. Clark St., Suite 415, Chicago | www.polyglottutoring.com/services | 773-800-0204

COME OUT SWINGING IN 2012.

Ah, the fickle golf swing. If left unused for too long, muscle memory goes rusty, as do your shots on the fairway. If left untrained, bad habits can set in and become unretrievable, much like those balls that keep landing in water hazards. Take on a few courses to fine-tune that rhythm, and your golf meetings are sure to become victorious on more than just the business front.

  • Randalls Island Golf School, New York: With beginner to tournament-level courses taught by PGA professionals, this school’s vast offering includes club fittings, video analysis, and private or group programs. Get there from Manhattan via shuttle, bus, or a short drive. 1 Randall’s Island, New York | 917.885.3895 | randallsislandgolfschool.com
  • Golf Academy at Chelsea Piers, New York: Set by the water and within Chelsea Piers’s multi-level driving range, a roster of 11 PGA and LPGA instructors teach groups or individuals how to hit out of a bunker and perfect that long drive. Various course packages are available, from Golf 101 classes to more specific programs, such as their Short Game School. Pier 59, 18th Street and Hudson River Park | 212.336.6444 | www.chelseapiers.com
  • Tour Bound Golf Academy, Chicago: Up the ante with this multi-city academy’s services: offerings include basics such as digital video analysis and stroke clinics to grander options such as jet tours (going from Fort Lauderdale to Monterey, CA) or yacht tours (going from Fort Lauderdale to luxury golf resorts in the Bahamas) that include private golf coaching all throughout. 17 North Wabash Ave., 3rd Floor, Chicago | www.tourboundgolfacademy.com

DO WELL AND DO GOOD, ALL AT ONCE.


Racers, you know the feeling: your legs/arms/random muscle group are killing you, you’re gustily out of breath, and you’re wondering what on Earth possessed you to run this hilly half-marathon or why you’re swallowing stomachfuls of dirty river water, arms freestyling away in a tight rubber suit. You’re in need of some extra motivation–something beyond satisfying that competitive streak or the desire to tighten up your stomach and legs. For your next challenge, why not do something good for others, too?

  • Achilles International, Chicago/New York: Founded in 1976 by an above-the-knee amputee who was the first amputee to ever run the New York City Marathon, this nonprofit organization has grown globally, giving “athletes with disabilities…a community of support”. Able-bodied athletes are partnered with the handicapped, and pairs conquer races of all kinds–from humble 5Ks runs to full triathlons and duathlons. Don’t be fooled: these men and women are tough, trained, and can easily blow past able-bodied competitors at any moment in the race. www.achillesinternational.org
  • TriSoldier Project, Chicago/New York: This nonprofit partners disabled veterans with athletes, pairing them up from the beginning training phases all the way through to the big race (many of these vets go on to complete Ironman races). Besides, there can be no tougher training partner than a former soldier who’s used to running miles with a heavy backpack. www.trisoldier.org

Need more 2012 resolution solutions? We’ve got them coming your way. Check out yesterday’s first installment on style, and keep an eye out for our third installment tomorrow!

Photos by Jill Damatac/Markets Media

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