Americans are expected to spend less on travel this year, which means that a lot of us are staying here in Dallas this summer, or we’re only going as far as San Antonio — maybe.
Sitting by the pool, reading novels, and pretending you can hear the waves crashing are OK ways to get through the onerous swelter of Texas in July, if you’re saving money by sticking close to home. But for a break in the idleness, our neighborhood has plenty of options for self-improvement.
And besides, there’s nothing good on TV.

Cool classes on cooking, fitness and do-it-yourself projects abound. We’ve picked a few that are unique and worth the price.

Put some joy into your workout

Why it’s worth a try: This low-impact workout is way more fun than swimming laps.

If you go: Dress for an aerobics class.

NIA is one of the latest trends in aerobics, blending dance, martial arts, tai chi and yoga. Hour-long classes from instructor and Lake Highlands resident Jule Aguirre, a psychotherapist and artist, draw quite a following. Sharyn Fein, who has been taking NIA classes for three years, lives in North Dallas, but drives to Lakewood for the Wednesday night class.

“We are addicted,” she says. “We follow Jule wherever she goes.”

When it was founded in 1983, NIA stood for “non-impact aerobics”, but it has evolved to mean “neuromuscular integrative action”. That’s a fancy way of saying that it’s good for your mind and body.

Where: Contemporary Ballet Dallas, 1902 Abrams Parkway

When: Wednesdays at 7 p.m.


How much: $15

For more information: 214.395.3855 or

Photography and art
Art is smart

Why it’s worth a try: You could be the next Jackson Pollock, and besides, they have free parking.

If you go: Hurry, because classes are starting soon.

Studio Arts Dallas is an art school without the pretentiousness. Everyone is welcome to enroll, even if they don’t know Monet from Renoir.

“We pride ourselves in being able to teach anyone, even if they’ve never picked up a paint brush,” says Barley Vogel, the school’s director.

On the other hand, artists who want some instruction, direction and critique often enroll in classes, too. The school is relaxed, and allows students to work at their own paces and levels, Vogel said.

The studio has hired a photography teacher — Ray Hand — and is offering an expanded photography program this summer. There are photography classes for people who barely know how to use their cameras, and for shutterbugs who want to learn new techniques. All of the classes teach technical skills, but have an artistic point of view.

For even more class offerings, check out Artistic Gatherings in Casa Linda Plaza, which keeps it crafty with workshops in papier mâché, rag weaving, earthenware clay art and mosaics. The $85 and $150 fees include all needed supplies.

Where: Studio Arts Dallas 10051 Shoreview Road ; Artistic Gatherings, 9440 Garland Rd., Suite 138

When: Studio Arts photography workshops on July 11 and Aug. 15; Artistic Gatherings classes start July 7, July 18, July 21 and July 28
How much: $45 per photography workshop; $85-$150 for Artistic Gatherings classes

For more information: 214.827.1222 or; 214.821.8383 or

Cooking classes
Make your groceries work for you

Why it’s worth a try: Impress your friends with gourmet meals.
If you go: Bring your taste buds.

Going out to eat is fun, but cooking for yourself and your family can save a lot of cash. Central Market offers about 20 classes a month ranging from instruction on basic cooking skills to advanced stuff like making sushi.

“Shop in the Market with the Chef” includes a store tour with Central Market executive chef Kyle Glasscock, followed by a basic cooking lesson. “All-American BBQ” includes recipes for baby back ribs, cole slaw and cherry crumble pie. At $75, “Lobster Mania!” is the most expensive offering, but includes instruction on handling the crustaceans, plus recipes for lobster bisque, a lobster salad and grilled lobster tails.

The school’s guest instructors for July include Grant Morgan, executive chef of Hotel ZaZa and Dragonfly, and cookbook author Lucy Buffett.

Where: Central Market, 5750 E. Lovers

When: Various times and days each week

How much: $35 to $75

For more information: 214.234.7000 or

Richland College
Exercise your brain and your self-esteem

Why it’s worth a try: Because the job market stinks.
If you go: Bring your résumé, hopes and dreams.

Richland College offers a range of continuing education classes over the summer, including topics such as languages, art and gardening. But their classes for older adults are really a bargain. The Plus 50 program at Richland is funded by a grant, and its classes are designed for people who are 50 and older (thus the name). Classes this summer include “Job Search: You’re Not Too Old, You’re Experienced” and “Find Your Passion and Purpose: Pursue Your Encore Career”, which helps people figure out the retirement job or second career they really want based on what they are passionate about. Instructors in the job search classes help students perfect their résumés and network using online resources like Facebook and Twitter.

The longest class is four weeks, so it’s not a huge time commitment.

Where: Richland College, 12800 Abrams


When: Daytime, evening and weekend classes and series start each month

How much: $34 to $41

For more information: 972.238.6972 or