Express Yourself: The A-to-Z Guide to Finding Your Next Hobby in Philly

Instead of making resolutions that are all don’ts and won’ts, this year try discovering something that’s more “Yes I can.” 

Photograph by Matt Zugale

Arrange succulents.
Beaucycled’s workshops at venues like Frankford Hall, Morgan’s Pier and BOK Bar bring together groups of 100 for drinks and twee gardening; everyone leaves with something beautiful.

With four locations, Philadelphia Rock Gym has all the materials, guidance and space you need to move up in this world.

Create anything.
Remember those gorgeous throw pillows on the loveseat at Matyson? Possibly not; customers constantly stole them. Learn how to make them and so much more (abstract paintings, stationery, clothes for American Girl dolls) at Sue’s Art Class in Rittenhouse, with art educator and former Matyson co-owner Sue Puchowitz.

Why mess around with all those black and white keys when you can pick up sticks? Allan Haiges (call him “Professor H”) of H Factor Percussion has been teaching kids and adults on the Main Line and in Delco for decades. And he comes to you.

Earn a degree.
Penn’s Senior Auditing Program lets those over 65 relive the glory days (but actually make it to class this time). Take courses ranging from “Islam in the Modern World” to “Modern Art: From Picasso to Pollock.”

Fail a little.
It’s all part of the process at NextFab, where your inner inventor is coaxed out via workshops, classes, or open tinkering time. The South Philly, North Philly and Wilmington studios have 3-D printers, metalwork tools, laser cutters, design software and more.

Groove on a guitar.
Via one-on-one lessons in a self-declared “low-pressure” environment, the pros at Danny’s Guitar Shop in Narberth will get you strumming in no time.

Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione called Rittenhouse’s Home Sweet Homebrew “legendary,” so it’s good enough for you. Get starter kits and invaluable advice.

Whether you’re aspiring to be the next Tina Fey or simply the funniest gal in the room, the stand-up and sketch comedy classes at Philly Improv Theater will get you out of your comfort zone.

Jiggle your booty.
Forget Zumba. Check out belly dance, African dance and Bollywood at Philly Dance Fitness’s five city locations.

There’s a reason people spend hours at the jujitsu studio. Your self-esteem will grow; your belly will disappear. Main Line United is popular with beginners and experts.

Learn Spanish.
With a focus on conversation and immersion, the Washington Square West outpost of Fluent City (a fast-growing start-up) will get you chatting in no time.

Macramé it up.
“Macramé is the new black,” jokes Jill Markovitz, founder of Philly Art Center. On February 1st from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Queen Village location, you can take a workshop in this hipster textile art. Be on the lookout for other adults-only — some are BYO — classes and workshops in painting, clay, fashion and drawing at all three locations.

Navigate your way around the bedroom.
The Velvet Lily in Midtown Village holds regular workshops — like “The Art of Self-Pleasure” and “Tease and Please” — led by professional sex educators.

PAFA has a variety of workshops and classes (some even free!) for us plebes, ranging from “Tools and Techniques” to just the basics.

Pen your memoir.
Or that novel you’ve been mind-writing in the shower for the last decade. Poet Susan Windle’s writing circles — sometimes led in the natural beauty of Wissahickon Valley Park — will help you dig deep to improve your writing, and your life.

Quit overthinking.
From one-day workshops to multi-week courses, the Penn Program for Mindfulness presents arguably the most, well, mindful programs in the region.

Roll pasta.
Former Le Virtù chef Joe Cicala will show you how to whip up ravioli (or sausage or gnocchi) like the Italians do. Book a class, or get four friends together and make it a private affair.

Sew your own jeans.
Or bras, dresses, button-downs and duffle bags. At Butcher’s Sew Shop’s two downtown locations, you’ll learn how to make fashion-forward things that you’ll actually want to wear and use.

Throw clay.
The Clay Studio in Old City has the wheels, glazes, kilns and patient teachers. Take the sampler class to try hand-building ceramics, or bring your sweetie for a date night.

Joey DeMalavez’s boxing classes at Joltin’ Jabs — there are studios in Midtown Village and Manayunk — are more than just a workout; they’re a sweat-inducing, soul-searching, confidence-boosting experience. (Just ask superfan Charles Barkley.)

Vow to only participate.
With her newly launched Selcouth Society, Conshy’s Jamie Joffe curates the kinds of adventures you’re too overwhelmed to plan: knife skills workshops, New York Fashion Week trips, behind-the-scenes beauty experiences and more.

Whack balls.
Narberth’s Julian Krinsky tennis center offers lessons and leagues and the easiest way to blow off some steam: Book a half hour of court time with just the ball machine and whale away.

X-plore* a distillery.
Take a tour, sample the artisanal goods, then geek out with the makers as you help bottle and label the newest batch of whiskey, rum, gin and more at Pottstown’s Manatawny Still Works. (*Yeah, we cheated … but booze!)

Yarn Jawn.
More than just an excellent entry for Y, it’s an actual knitting class offered at South Philly’s Lume Creative Learning Studios. Nothing here is average; other classes include “The Macabre Arts Club” and “Dirty Embroidery.”

Zip through the air.
Learn aerial acrobatics, trapeze and juggling at the spacious new Philly Circus Arts venue in a former church in Mount Airy.

» Click here for tips on how to make a hobby a habit

Published as “Express Yourself” in the January 2018 issue of Philadelphia magazine.