Wings & Slicks' professional instructors pass on heart-pumping tutelage during stunt-driving and formula-car-racing experiences in the United States and Canada. The pro drivers impart pupils with the skills needed to execute a variety of as-seen-on-TV stunts, including slalom-course runs and reverse 180-degree spins, or to navigate the track in a Formula 2000 car capable of going from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds. Each once-in-a-lifetime adventure revs up adrenalin levels while prioritizing safety; every experience begins with a lesson and includes protective equipment. Wings & Slicks, which was recently featured in a The Globe and Mail story, also baits competitive edges with timed events that pit drivers head-to-head in a test of dexterity, skill, and not closing one’s eyes during the hard parts.
G-force pulls faces taught as feet floor accelerator pedals. The smell of burning rubber fills nostrils. A halo of stadium lights illuminates a quarter-mile of pavement as it passes by in seconds. With help from the experienced instructors and drivers at Ontario Racing Source, anyone can zoom into drag races at the historic St. Thomas Raceway. Before each race, staff give racing skill and safety instruction, and show each new driver how to control their fully prepped cars using nothing more than the console and a few self-esteem-boosting words on how shiny they’re looking today. At regular intervals, visitors can also strap in behind the wheel of high-speed vehicles at the Grand Bend Motorplex and Toronto Motorsports Park.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
Helmed by Chef Suki Kaur-Cosier, Cooking Matters invites chefs of all experience levels to nourish their love of the culinary arts in fun, hands-on classes. Every month, she designs a lesson plan that literally expands the horizons of her pupils—many classes highlight cuisines from countries as diverse as Morocco, Italy, Thailand, and Never-Never Land. Other classes help locals adapt to dietary restrictions such as gluten intolerance or calorie restrictions with bold, delicious recipes. The class structure is simple and practical: students step up to the stove and actually prepare a four-course meal on their own. As they work, the chef patrols the room, offering suggestions and scolding watched pots that refuse to boil.
Named one of Parents magazine's Top 10 Birthday Chains in 2010, Color Me Mine's international franchise of DIY ceramics studios cater to an older crowd as well. Hundreds of unadorned ceramic pieces—including vases, flatware, and busts of Elvis—await the attentions of muses of kids and their keepers alike, as do glazes in earthy tones and bright crimsons to frighten bulls away from china cabinets. Guests follow simple step-by-step instructions that leave plenty of room for creative expression. When painters are satisfied with their work, the professional kiln-workers help glaze and fire it for them before customers retrieve the finished piece a few days later.
Focusing largely on watercolours, acrylics, and oils, the resident instructors at Forest City Decorative Artists help students create paintings showcasing vibrant objects such as folk-art fruit baskets, twinkle-eyed cats, or a trio of multihued umbrellas perched in the sand. Other media, from coloured pencils to sculpture, have tiptoed into the curriculum as well. These techniques allow burgeoning artists to expand their repertoire as they shade portraits in various, non-smearing hues or mould expressive figurines known to hopscotch across the pages of paint-by-numbers books.