The educated, collaborative team of instructors at 8-Limbs hold laid-back fashion-design seminars each month. A sewing school with a strong focus on building fashion, the 8-Limbs team hopes to provide inspiration to every student they get the chance to meet. The space is now also available for students to rent by the hour to work on projects in a creative workshop atmosphere. As Silverlake buzzes outside, the team infuses the funky workshop with their own artistic energy, equipping novice designers with the skills necessary to fashion their own threads, home goods, or any number of projects. Hands-on classes maintain modest sizes, ensuring budding designers receive personal attention. Each student mans a sewing machine, available to rent for $5—or his or her own trusted apparatus—and learns the gamut of garment creation, from sewing machine basics to the intricacies of alterations and clothing construction. 8-Limbs also offers new and used sewing machines for sale, a variety of the sewing supplies including fabric and tools, and a friendly and knowledgable staff.
Joe Decker isn’t your ordinary fitness trainer. He might just be the planet’s fittest human, at least according to Guinness World Records. He earned the title of World’s Fittest Man in 2000 after mastering a 24-hour challenge comprising a 100-mile bike ride, a 10-mile run, 1,100 pushups, and other exhausting feats. Today, his boot camp program, Gut Check Fitness, helps exercisers tackle goals that are just as lofty with outdoor workouts that have won accolades from TrailRunner magazine and the attention of Coca-Cola's fitness programs.
Each ever-changing workout leads participants into the great outdoors, where they discover the true meaning of “gut check,” a military term used to denote a test of courage, character, or determination. With the help of several talented trainers, Joe propels athletes through a gauntlet of fitness drills that torches dozens of calories and fortifies muscles throughout the body. The classes’ main piece of equipment is the earth, which provides hills for climbing, gravity for resistance, and solid ground for sprints and bodyweight exercises. In addition to basking in the trainers’ shouts of encouragement, the group cheers one another toward each milestone, fostering friendships while creating an ongoing incentive to achieve.
At her first ballroom-dance lesson, DeeLynn Fields learned, "If you can spell, you can dance." Working through tango steps, she stopped and unpacked t-a-n-g-o. By seeing the word for its individual parts, she reasoned that she could do the same with the dance. Soon after mastering each step, Fields felt them flow together, and a smile bloomed across her face.
That moment—when a student begins to grasp a dance and cracks a smirk—is what Fields lives for and now endeavors to cultivate at Crystal Ballroom Dance Studio. She and her fellow instructors teach beginning and intermediate-level dancers both smooth and Latin forms of ballroom dance, including tango, foxtrot, and other dance forms named after military lingo, and the team's expertise has garnered multiple awards, including a Best of Silicon Valley award from San Jose Mercury News in 2013.
The staccato beat of conga drums rises over the deep voice of a bass guitar and the higher trills of the timbales and piano. Head dancer Evan Margolin and his bevy of experienced instructors lead students in classes that take beginners through basic footwork and salsa rhythms, with intermediate and advanced sessions offering salsa aficionados more challenging instruction. The social class structure—partners rotate throughout every session—creates a low-pressure learning environment and keeps dancers from scrambling to locate a partner or human-shaped tupperware container. The one-hour beginner classes are mostly filled with salsa novices and new dancers, and Dance SF's experienced and engaging local salsateers are patient and friendly when showing new students how to bust well-timed moves. During intermediate classes, which require six months or more of social dancing experience, students focus on timing and cross-body leads with turns. After some evening classes, new dancers are invited to join an all-night salsa party where they can put their new moves in practice. Students should wear comfortable clothing, which includes dancing shoes, but does not include rear-flapped onesie pajamas.
Color Me Mine puts paintbrushes and pottery in the mitts of customers old and young. Budding Toyozo Arakawas will follow six easy steps to craft beautifully painted ceramics, first choosing a ceramic piece ($12–$70) from Color Me Mine's selection of more than 500 seasonally changing items. After charting out the desired design from individual imagination or Color Me Mine's idea gallery, painters will select an underglaze from Color Me Mine's cast of more than 75 colors, applying paint with the focus of a peregrine falcon occupied by a Rockwellian spirit. Color Me Mine handles all kiln-firing work, allowing clients to take home their final products within three to five days. A studio fee of $5 for children, $7 for teens, and $10 for adults covers all paints, supplies, glazing, and firing.
Golden Gourmet Catering proprietor Liza Kilgariff schools students in culinary techniques and a smorgasbord of regional cuisines during three- to four-hour cooking classes. Technique-based Thrill of the Grill sessions instruct tyros in the art of cooking comestibles over a flame, seasoning meats, and penciling singed eyebrows back in. Alternatively, embark on a culinary voyage with Szechuan, Mandarin, Hunan, and Cantonese fare in the regional Chinese class series, or learn to bundle Chinese tea dumplings in a dim sum class. Before journeying back to their collective kitchens or wood-burning toaster ovens, students sup on menu samplings and receive copies of the recipes prepared; at many evening classes, they can also purchase wines supplied by Grocery Outlet (not included in today’s Groupon).