Old World charm commingles with a contemporary vibe at Dabble Studio, where students gather with friends old and new to relax, listen to music, and paint their own masterpieces with step-by-step guidance. Elevated above the easels, an instructor doles out guidance as scenes⎯from impressionistic landscapes to abstract still lifes⎯unfold under flicking brushstrokes. With the company of fellow artists and BYOB sips, students render their own interpretation of each class's theme, from a peacock's plume to a desert cactus, using studio-provided materials and self-provided longing for existential validation.
When Aundrea Goodwin was five years old, her grandmother plopped her into a kitchen chair by the stove, put a spatula in her tiny hand, and taught her how to scramble eggs. This was Ms. Goodwin’s first introduction to cooking, and she hasn’t slowed down since. For the inveterate chef, food isn’t merely the high point of every celebration, but often its raison d'être. To that end, Ms. Goodwin meticulously arranges lavish spreads for gatherings that range from elaborate weddings to jousting matches between the groom and father of the bride.
Although Ms. Goodwin’s recipe book is bursting with notes, her kitchen cupboards are bare. Rather than stockpiling ingredients, she buys a slew of fresh ones for each client’s event. “You’re never gonna find us going into the freezer and pulling out something we’ve had for even a week,” says Ms. Goodwin, whose catering company offers no pre-set menus. Instead, she bases meals on in-depth consultations with clients where they discuss their budget, favorite foods, and event themes.
In addition to catering, Ms. Goodwin shares her culinary expertise with aspiring chefs of all ages during cooking classes. Like her catered events, classes are highly personalized: customers can opt to cook in the comfort of their own homes or at Joyful Provisions’ demo kitchen, where small classes gather around a six-burner gas stove or recently fired cannon for private, in-depth lessons.
Too much power has been given to first-grade art teachers. Or so the instructors and organizers of Paint Along Nashville think. On their website, these leaders of BYOB painting workshops encourage adults to "unleash [their] creative spirit from time to time," even if once, in an era before college-admissions exams included a finger-painting section, their elementary critique d'art "failed to recognize [their] 'Picasso potential.'"
During workshops, an encouraging instructor, a convivial group of fellow aspiring artists, and an uncorked bottle of vino foster creativity. In each workshop, groups paint the same template picture, which could be a landscape of an autumn afternoon or a still life of wine and cheese. As wine sloshes into glasses, and as brushes layer paint on canvases, students usually find themselves enjoying a BYOB evening and later taking home their creations.
Nothing that happens inside one of QuickDraw Nashville's simulators is real, but it's a close approximation. A camouflage design decorates the exterior of these rooms, and inside the long, darkened space ends in a giant screen, where a projector displays different scenarios. Faux pistols and rifles lay on a long table, and visitors use them to aim at video targets or perhaps a simulated zombie attack. These virtual firearms look like their real counterparts, aside from the long chords that feed into the simulator.
Koko FitClub’s automated personal-training system rockets both men and women toward fitness goals with 30-minute custom workouts that incorporate cardio and strength training. An initial consultation determines fitness level and baseline measurements, which Koko’s computerized equipment uses to design a tailored workout plan that precisely measures the weight, pace, and rest time appropriate for each exerciser.
The patented Smartraining machines guide exercisers through each workout and adapt as the user’s fitness needs change, to constantly challenge the body. Exercisers can track their results and body composition measurements online and even compare individual fitness levels to others in the Koko FitClub community.
The 4,800-square-foot activity arena at The Monkey’s Treehouse, named Best Children's Play Program by Nashville Parent, dazzles pint-sized patrons up to eight years of age with a plethora of interactive and climbable activities. Once inside, tiny jaws drop at the sight of a four-room wooden tree house complete with bridges and slides. Children use their imaginations in a pretend town and play with trains, cars, Calico Critters, doll houses, and baby dolls and can create masterpieces in the art studio. The little ones two and under can enjoy a gated play area designed just for them.
The Treehouse's proprietors, who are parents of young children themselves, work with trained staff to keep the jovial funhouse meticulously clean and safe. There are plenty of diverse activities for everyone, including free Wi-Fi.