Inspired by the success of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, a reality program that offers contes-tants something more than humiliation, the 92 Street Y challenges you to prepare for your summer clothes withY Weight? Boot Camp for the Serious Loser. Burn calories and boost your metabolism without having to face Caroline Rhea every week. 212-415-5500, 92y.org
Chanting is boring, yoga is too crunchy, and Pilates honestly sounds really hard. A basic introduction course in Tai Chi combines the best of all three. Tai Chi’s slow, repetitive movements provide the physical health benefits of martial arts as well as the calming and stress-reducing qualities of meditation. Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to join the old ladies in the park. 718-636-3600, pratt.edu
The Barefoot Contessa has a sweetly school-marmish manner, while Paula Deen’s syrupy accent is a full-on charm attack. These high-profile foodies are proving that the path to success in the culinary world no longer means years of free labor in school followed by years of abuse in kitchens. Think you have an idea as big as the panini craze of a few years ago? Then make sure to attend the New School’s What I Wish I Had Known Before I Started My Food Business. You’ll learn tips from entrepreneurs and other industry experts. 212-229-5690, generalstudies.newschool.edu
Learning to cook needn’t include cutesy nicknames or cheesy gobs of goo. Cooking 101: The Course for Absolute Beginners will lead you step-by-step through the basics, from making sure you have the proper equipment to chopping vegetables and grilling meat. Soon you’ll have a repertoire of dishes you can whip up without a second thought. 800-522-4660, iceculinary.com
One or two panels, a simple set-up, and a few sketched figures—a good comic strip can look simple to pull off and yet be frustratingly difficult to achieve. Whether your tastes run toward the political (Get Your War On), the family-friendly (For Better or for Worse), or the perverse (Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles), Pratt’s course in Comic Book Illustration will teach you the basics of character design, storytelling, lettering, and word balloons. 718-636-3600, pratt.edu
With the popularity of Saturday Night Live shorts like “Dick in a Box,” it seems not a week goes by without some new video flitting from inbox to inbox. If everyone can do it, then why isn’t there anything better to watch? The Pit’s aptly named
Viral Video class will teach you how to write, shoot, and produce digital annoyances of your very own. 212-563-7488, thepit-nyc.com
Decoupage, with its air of old-fashioned fussiness, could be poised for a knitting-like explosion in cool. By this time next year, needles and yarn will have been cast aside and the coffee houses of Park Slope filled with scraps of colored paper and shellac fumes. Get in on this trend now at the 92nd Street Y’s New Decoupage. 212-415-5500, 92y.org
Learn to avoid awkward moments at your job with NYU’s Business Etiquette. You’ll study the art of introducing people of different ages and ranks, tipping properly at work lunches, and sidestepping career-killing jokes. 212-998-7200, scps.nyu.edu
No matter how talented or brilliant an artist you may be, no one is ever going to know it unless you hustle your work. Study the secrets of making connections with the gate-keepers—bigwigs at galleries, museums, and other venues—through Pratt’s Getting Out There. 718-636-3600, pratt.edu
You can do more with a driver’s license than flash it at bouncers and bartenders. Imagine yourself as a graduate of one of the city’s many Learn to Drive courses, tooling around the avenues to the strains of a prized mixed tape—or at least being able to rent a car when you’re out of town. Professional Driving School, 212.375.1111, prodriveny.com; Grand Prix Driving School, 212-752-0100, grandprixdrivingschool.com; Driving Center of New York, 212-396-1300, drivingcenterofnewyork.com
Nowadays, the short story form seems rather unloved, nudged aside in favor of graphic novels, equally graphic memoirs, and other more saleable genres. Devotees of the story can take comfort in recent work by writers like Deborah Eisenberg, author of Twilight of the Superheroes, and Karen Russell, author of the novel-in-stories St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. NYU’s Short Story Writing celebrates the craft with weekly writing assignments and a constant striving to follow Flannery O’Connor’s dictum to “keep the short story from being short.”
The market for Young Adult fiction is huge— just ask Megan McCafferty. Last year a Harvard undergrad “accidentally” borrowed from two of McCafferty’s novels, though the truth was quickly revealed and the book vanished. Writing a breakout YA title would be a license to print money, and
Writing Teen and Young Adult Fiction offers a chance to learn how without ripping anyone off.
Think having your own television show is just a dream?
Manhattan Neighborhood Network offers residents of the borough free instruction in the use of its facilities. 212-757-2670, mnn.org
Being a bartender automatically makes you the most important person in the room. At
American Bartending School, you’ll learn the latest in mixology, as well as how to maintain the bar equipment. You’ll also get help with job placement. 800-532-9222, barschool.com
Applying to grad school can be overwhelm- ing. GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT—the names alone are daunting, especially if the last standardized test you took was the SAT in high school. Classes in
test preparation at the Princeton Review can help, with one-on-one tutoring and group sessions.
In New York, the question “Where do you live?” usually comes right after “What do you do?” Real estate isn’t an interest, it’s an obsession. Instead of poring over apartment listings as though they were the sports pages, start going professional with the
Real Estate Boot Camp at the New York Real Estate Institute. 212-967-7508. nyrei.com