Drum & Drummer instructor Erik Truelove knows how to improvise. When the country-rocker and four-time winner of the National Association of Music Merchants' World's Most Accurate Drummer title found himself at a TV gig with no cymbals, he simply pulled the license plates off his car and attached them to his kit, he reported to the Tucson Citizen in 2009. This spirit of flexibility and quick thinking is something he passes along to his students in both group and private lessons. Other instructors—all working musicians—join in that goal backed by expertise in hand drumming, R&B grooves, jazz improvisation, and competitive marching percussion.
To mark progress and keep motivation levels kicking, the school uses a program of Truelove's own devising. Modeled on karate's belt system, sets of colored drumsticks provide a vivid reminder of the skills students have conquered. To advance in rank, they must master their level's set of grooves, fills, and concepts, then perform a predetermined song at the school's performance center. Class sizes are typically capped at 10 students to ensure lots of one-on-one assistance and keep the downstairs neighbors from constantly calling the cops with noise complaints.
The Practical Chef schools fledgling foodies in an approachable environment with the added benefit of certified executive chef Craig Nassar's years of gourmet know-how. Hands-on classes ($65¬–$90) include all necessary ingredients and equipment—saving you the trouble of transporting your industrial-grade meat tenderizer by city bus—and offer a delightful repertoire of beginner and intermediate techniques open to all experience levels. Basic Cooking Techniques gets newbies up to speed on the nitty-gritty of browning meats, whipping up sauces, cooking grains, roasting root vegetables, and cooking leafy greens, while the katana-sharp Knife Skills class trains slicing sempais to mince, dice, and julienne with dignity and honor. Upcoming tutorials include pasta workshops, where students learn to fashion a variety of fresh noodles and seasonal sauces from scratch—an ethereal substance made from leprechaun hair, comet dust, and the residue of one’s first kiss. The Enticing Tapas class, meanwhile, covers an array of small plates provocative enough to inspire even the most bashful schoolmarm to flamenco her way across the gas range. At the end of each class, ravenous students get to feed on their freshly prepared meal before toting the recipes home for later replication.
For more than 20 years, Yoga Connection's classes have focused on stretching, strengthening, and breathing techniques—but founder and director Priscilla Potter isn't afraid of yoga's more holistic side, either. When she's not teaching, she's an astrologer and a meditation instructor, and her multifaceted perspective on yoga shines through in the studio's schedule. Sessions range from bouts of yin yoga to chakra yoga, which explores the body's seven energy centers.
Before getting married, Tony and Marcy Brown both held impressive fitness records. Tony moved from a personal-training career to teaching yoga, and Marcy—a seasoned law-enforcement officer and former owner of a personal-training studio—kept her finger firmly on the pulse of gym trends. The pair decided to captain CrossFit Purgatory after becoming convinced of CrossFit's superiority over other popular health regimens. Now, they welcome guests of all ages and abilities to participate in their WODs (Workouts of the Day), emphasizing the values of community and commitment for those trying to rewrite their physical limits.
CrossFit Purgatory rejects superfluous furnishings in favor of a tough, minimalist vibe, decked out in functional training equipment such as kettlebells, Olympic rings, medicine balls, and mammoth bones. The gym's industrial feel is offset by the warmth of its occupants, who welcome new members to tackle the day's routine with open, sweaty arms. Because CrossFit maneuvers are universally scalable, anyone can adjust them to suit their strength level—the coaches have guided patrons from sports competitors to complete newbies to 2010 Biggest Loser contestant Jessica Delfs.
Tucson Yoga's wide variety of classes caters to community members of all ages, ambitions, and aptitudes. Basic Yoga and Gentle Yoga introduce beginners to proper breathing techniques and fundamental asanas like Downward-Facing Dog, Unreliable Narrator, and Kneel Before Zod, while Vinyasa offers a higher-energy workout to accommodate experienced students and human kegs of Red Bull. If you are a new mom, bond with your freshly baked bundle while working off excess insulation in an hour-long Mama and Baby class. These sessions feature gentle, relaxing movements that help mothers release pregnancy-related tension in their hips, back, and neck while their pre-crawling companions learn how to cope with the imminent stresses of SAT prep and chopstick mastery. Yogis of all skill levels are invited to stretch their stiff mind-muscles using the more meditative techniques of traditional yoga in Mindfulness Yoga.