Craft Akron is devoted to providing space and education for local lovers of all things handmade and crafty, and its stitch series and sewing series give aspiring seamsters and seamstresses 12 different classes from which to choose. Take an intro to machine sewing course ($35, two hours) and finally discover that the classic household contraption has other applications than Kafkaesque torture and taking up space on the dining room table. If you're already familiar with a sewing machine, you can take it a step closer to self-awareness with an intermediate machine course ($45, three hours) and gain the confidence needed to create a garment composed entirely of buttonholes. A hand embroidery course ($35 plus a $5 pattern fee, two hours) cuts down on rages against machines by teaching students how to manually gussy and garnish with gusto.
A PADI 5-star instructor-development center, Atlantis Outfitters offers the highest quality of support, equipment, and training for scuba divers during its four-hour Discover Scuba Diving class. The shop’s skilled staff of veteran divers will begin with a short academic session and demonstration before securely strapping their aquatic apprentices into fins, a mask, and a snorkel. Once you plunge into the safe, typically shark-free confines of a local indoor pool, you’ll practice techniques for exploring a watery world of fish that got away, singing whales, cartoon octopi playing rib bones like marimbas, and glacier sweat. The diving class can also be applied toward your diver’s certification; speak with your instructor if you’re interested in mastering the art of scuba.
Michelle Alpern, an avid swimmer and Red Cross-certified lifeguard since high school, is the founder of the Kids and Infant Safety Swim (KISS) Swim Program. Tailoring lessons to each student’s needs, Michelle and staff lead sessions for infants, toddlers, kids, and adults, focusing on the swim-float-swim method in a fun, safe, and nurturing environment. She specializes in childhood education, and her training includes more than 175 hours of pool instruction, child psychology and physiology, and CPR and AED certifications.
Urban Tactical Defense Center’s diverse team of trainers includes lifelong martial artists, former military personnel, and current police officers. Within the 8,000-square-foot facility—with two sparring rooms and a gym—these trainers pass on the self-defense and fitness techniques they acquired during their demanding careers to students of all ages, covering everything from defense tactics to proper firearms training. They rely on myriad approaches to boost health and self-confidence levels, imparting combat techniques during martial-arts and unarmed-combat classes; fending off calories in Combat Fitness Bootcamp courses; and bulking up entire bodies in circuit-training sessions. They even sprinkle meditation techniques from Chinese qi gong in some of their programs.
Alternatively, the staff leads youngsters through its own original MANTIS curriculum (Manage Any Nasty Trouble in School), acquainting them with tactics for dealing with bullies, teaching them self-defense moves, and hopefully giving them the strength to lift 12 action figures at once.
In 1880, the final fasteners and sleepers on the Valley Railway were tightened into place. It wouldn’t be long before a billowing cloud of steam announced the arrival of the first train running through the Cuyahoga Valley, a territory that had served as a passageway for foot traffic for thousands of years. Over the next century, the railway contributed to the growth of commerce between Akron and Cleveland, changing ownership multiple times, and transforming from a freight train, into a passenger train, back to a freight train, and finally into a UFO.
Now celebrating its 41st year of passenger-rail service, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad transports sightseers over the historic rails through 33,000 acres of land owned by the National Park Service. With a year-round roster of trips, including wine- and beer-tasting excursions, passengers can set forth on morning, afternoon, and evening journeys that sweep past meadowlands, pinery, and rivers and give glimpses of native wildlife, such as fox, deer, bobcat mascots, and owls.
Grape guru and oenophile Marianne Frantz, who holds a diploma from London's Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and who earned an Advanced Sommelier qualification from the Court of Master Sommeliers, founded American Wine School in 2002. She and her school have gone on to shepherd more than 10,000 sippers through classes, tastings, and grape-lookalike contests. Marianne, along with her knowledgeable staff, impart their vino wisdom in classes that range from the basic Wine 101 to the more extensive WSET certification courses. The school's classes and special events have even spilled into seven different states, teaching tongues across the nation to swirl, sniff, and taste the adult beverages and analyze why drinking wine while doing taxes is a bad idea.