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10 Cool Classes You Can Take in Metro Phoenix

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It's a new year, and that means it's also a perfect time to learn new stuff. Whether you're looking to bring back sexy in 2014 or just pick up a hot (and we mean that literally) new hobby, we've got a few places where even old dogs can learn new tricks in the coming weeks.

Bright Beginnings: New Year, New Writing When: Wednesday, January 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Where: Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe How Much: $25

This workshop, led by author Stella Pope Duarte, will cover ways you can "stimulate your creativity" to finish (or, let's be honest, start) that piece of writing you talked about all last year. Duarte has won such awards as the American Book Award in 2009 and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Award in 2004 and taught at Arizona State University from 1999 to 2008. During the class, she will cover strategies for brainstorming, imagining new ideas, and digging up family rumors. Attendees are asked to bring a pen and notebook. It's open to writers of all levels. Call 480-730-0205.

See also: 5 Cool Phoenix Neighborhoods You Probably Never Heard Of Get More From Your DSLR When: Saturday, January 18, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Where: Art Intersection in Gilbert How Much: $95

If you own a fancy DSLR (that's digital single lens reflex) camera but have never taken it off automatic settings, this is the workshop you'll want to attend. A two-hour classroom lecture will cover the basics of camera operation, including a technical explanation of manual exposure -- aperture and shutter speed -- and focus. Attendees will then be able to get out and practice shooting photos before a lunch break. The workshop will conclude with two hours of image review. Instructor Geoff Reed teaches commercial and digital photography classes and workshops at Scottsdale, Glendale and Gateway Community Colleges and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in commercial photography from Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara. Attendees are asked to bring their camera manual. Registration is available at the Art Intersection website.

Opposites Attract Mandala Group When: Saturday, January 18, 10 a.m. to noon Where: R. Pela Gallery in Phoenix How Much: $55

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy means using the creative process of art-making to "explore . . . feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem." Registered art therapist Lanie Smith will lead attendees in a mandala-making workshop that will allow attendees to "explore and embrace [their] tension of opposites while making time for health and well-being through the the ancient art of the mandala." This class includes lunch. Registration is available online.

Yoga 101 When: Saturday, January 18, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Where: Urban Yoga in downtown Phoenix How Much: $40

Designed as both a primer for the unenlightened and a refresher course for experienced yogis, this workshop covers the finer points of yoga practice. The three-hour class will cover topics including yoga philosophy, key breathing techniques, primary yoga postures, and principles of alignment. Kim Smith will lead the workshop. She began practicing yoga in 2001 and received her 200-hour training with Senior Para Yoga & Anusara certified teacher Mary Bruce. Registration is available on the Urban Yoga website.

Building Your Brand Through LinkedIn -- A 3 Step Process: Content, Contacts, Career When: Wednesday, January 22, noon to 1 p.m. Where: Co+Hoots in Phoenix How Much: Free

Believe it or not, LinkedIn is useful for things other than stalking your former colleagues and digging up dirt before a first date. During this workshop Robin Bramman, strategic brand consultant and founder of Chic Branding, will show attendees how to build and use a personal brand on LinkedIn, the top-ranked professional networking site. In addition to sharing a three-step plan for personal branding on the site, Bramman will provide a LinkedIn checklist and 3D Branded BIO Worksheet to help attendees improve their LinkedIn profiles. RSVP for the lunchtime event on Facebook and find more about Robin Bramman at the Chic Branding website.

Dragon Training: Fire Eating, Fleshing, & Breathing Workshop When: Saturday, January 25 , 5 to 7 p.m. Where: The Circus Farm in Mesa How Much: $40 ($50 with fire torches)

For those looking to pick up a truly unique hobby this year, here's a hot idea: fire eating. During this Dragon Training workshop, fire director of Velocity Circus and Circus School of Arizona Crystal Cruz will cover fire safety, the difference between fuels, and techniques on taming the flame. Attendees will get their own fire torches and learn fire-eating, fire-fleshing, and fire-breathing. Students are asked to wear form fitting cotton-based clothing and a bandana to cover hair. Perfume, hairspray, and body oils not suggested. Attendees must be 18 years or older and will be asked to sign a liability waiver prior to the workshop beginning. Registration is available online.

Nude Figure Drawing with Carrie Bloomston & Model When: Tuesday, January 28, 6 to 8 p.m. Where: JAM in Scottsdale How Much: $20

Not for the puritanical, this workshop will cover nude figure drawing with a live model. The evening class will be led by Carrie Bloomston, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design. Bloomston is an abstract painter and designer, who creates sewing patterns for her own company, SUCH Designs, LLC and fabrics for Windham Fabrics. Supplies for this class are included. Reserve a spot by emailing suchdesigns@cox.net.

Lingerie League Striptease Workshop When: Friday, January 31, 7 to 8 p.m. Where: Express Mie in Tempe How Much: $39

During this workshop, attendees will learn to release their inner vixen while learning how to perform a sexy striptease. Billed as "perfect for the everyday woman who wants to add some classy spice to her love life," the striptease will include the following clothing items: a sweatshirt, jeans (loose fit at ankle), panty (ideally boyshort; not thong), sports jersey, or babydoll lingerie. Attendees are asked to wear a close-fitting layer that won't be removed (such as a tank top or non-sheer bra and boyshorts or leggings) in addition to the items to take off. Registration is available at the Express Mie website.

Chalk Paint® Workshop When: Saturday, February 1, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Where: Green Table Gifts in Tempe How Much: $115

Created by Annie Sloan more than 20 years ago, Chalk Paint is a versatile paint that's known for its velvety, matte finish. This workshop will cover the five most popular chalk paint techniques, which will get you started in the variety of finishes the unique paint line offers. Supplies are included and attendees will leave with two sample sizes of Chalk Paint in their choice of colors. Step-by-step instructions will also be given to take home. Students are asked to come in paint clothing. To register, visit Green Table Gifts or call 480-855-5620.

Soil Preparation - Everything You Need To Know Before You Plant When: Sunday, February 9, noon Where: Southwest Gardener in Phoenix How Much: $35

Learn how to turn that brown patch of grass into a flourishing garden during this workshop, which will be led by local gardening guru Gregory Ware. But you can't grow anything without first learning how to prep your soil. This class will cover the mystery of soil preparation, as well as all the steps to ready your spring and summer gardens. Enough locally produced organic fertilizer and soil sulfur to cover a 100-square-foot garden are included in the class. Registration is available at the Southwest Gardener website.

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