Adult classes in NYC, from acting classes to language courses

Adult classes in New York cover virtually every subject you can think of—study our edited selection of courses and workshops and prepare to be inspired.

  • Photograph: Courtesy Astor Center

    Adult classes in NYC: Advanced Bar Skills at Astor Center

  • Photograph: Courtesy Astor Center

    Adult classes in NYC: Advanced Bar Skills at Astor Center

  • Adult classes in NYC: Applied Deconstruction 101

  • Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Glass

    Adult classes in NYC: Intro to Neon Weekend at Brooklyn Glass

  • Photograph: Courtesy Brooklyn Glass

    Adult classes in NYC: Instructor David Ablon at Brooklyn Glass

  • Photograph: Martin Seck

    Adult classes in NYC: Fashion Merchandising at Parsons

  • Photograph: Courtesy OM Factory

    Adult classes in NYC: AcroYoga at OM Factory

  • Photograph: Courtesy Furniture Joint

    Adult classes in NYC: Beginner upholstery at the Furniture Joint

  • Photograph: Courtesy French Institute Alliance Française

    Adult classes in NYC: A French class at FIAF

  • Photograph: Courtesy the New York Studio School

    Adult classes in NYC: Painting at the New York Studio School

Photograph: Courtesy Astor Center

Adult classes in NYC: Advanced Bar Skills at Astor Center

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For about the cost of one pair of Prada sandals, you can cobble your very own footwear at 3rd Ward’s Introduction to Shoemaking: Sandals (195 Morgan Ave at Stagg St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn;; Aug 13–Sept 10, Tue 7–10pm; five classes $359) with the help of FIT-trained accessories designer Kat Roberts. Start with a sketch, learn the terminology and tools of the trade, and walk home one month later in open-toed custom kicks—imagined and constructed by you.

You don’t need to be Project Runway–ready to make a splash at Parsons (2 W 13th St at Fifth Ave; 212-229-8933, The school’s Continuing Education department offers an extensive lineup of classes, from Accessory Design and Brand Strategy to Window Display and Retail Store Image. Business-minded clotheshorses will flock to Fashion Merchandising (Sept 18–Dec 11, Wed 7–9:30pm; 12 classes $699) to understand the fundamentals of market research, product development and promotion and consumer behavior, and the growing importance of the global marketplace. (A nine-week online version of the same course begins October 7.)

If you’ve ever watched an episode of The Rachel Zoe Project and thought, I want to do that, Styling for Visual Presentation at the Fashion Institute of Technology (Seventh Ave at 27th St; 212-217-7999,; Aug 26–Dec 16, Mon 6:30–9:20pm; 15 sessions $368) is a well-heeled step in the right direction. Let the fashion-minded faculty turn your eye for color into styling know-how through a combination of lectures, demonstrations and studio projects, including assignments in set and prop styling, location scouting, and styling for fashion shows, video productions and celebrities.

Face it, most of the clothes in your closet could use a few nips and tucks. If you know how to work a sewing machine, the crafty folks at Pins & Needles (1045 Lexington Ave at 75th St, second floor; 212-535-6222,—a sewing, fabric, modern crafts and needlework store and studio—can make those costly trips to the tailor obsolete with a two-hour Tailoring Essentials workshop (Aug 21, Sept 18, Oct 18, Wed 6:30–8:30pm; $100). All of the essential tricks of the alterations trade will be covered, from replacing a button to finding creative ways to patch that pesky hole
in your jeans.

Health and fitness

Eating healthy may seem impossible in a city where there are endless options for all things fried, cheesy or stacked between two pieces of bread. Brush up on your knowledge of diet and nutrition at 92nd Street Y’s May Center for Health, Fitness & Sport (1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts; 212-415-5500, The “Navigating New-Trition” series of six hour-long talks ($22, May Center members $12) runs October 8 through March 2014. Learn about the foods that can strengthen your moods and memory, and devise your own two-week, brain-food-focused meal plan in “The Brain Food Prescription” (Oct 22) led by Drew Ramsey, M.D., author and professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.

Considering going vegan? Find out how to get the right nutrients during the transition to a meat- and dairy-free lifestyle when Victoria Moran, holistic health guru and author of Main Street Vegan, hosts “Plant Power: A Life Enhancing Way to Lose Weight and Gain Inner Strength” (Oct 29). If you want to reduce your grocery bill without resorting to ramen, mark your calendar for “Boosting Nutrition Without Busting Your Wallet” (Jan 28).  CBS News health expert and Top Chef contestant Andrea Beaman will share tips on how to buy high-quality foods on a budget.

Ever wondered what goes on in your brain when you’re fired up about your favorite athlete? You may find the answer at “Your Brain in Action: The Neuroscience of Sports” at the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th St; 212-769-5315, Starting September 16, the course explores a variety of topics, from what makes fans cheer to the latest research on concussions and recovery. In November, students can expect to get into the lab, use an EEG to view their own brain waves and even handle actual human brain specimens in a course affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian/The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell. “Pick Your Poison: Understanding Mind-Altering Drugs & Medications” (starts Nov 4) looks at the effects of substances such as antidepressants and caffeine on brain chemistry. The course will also cover substance addiction and which chemicals are the most harmful to the brain. Both courses include five Monday sessions from 6 to 8pm ($295, museum members and educators $240).

Yoga kicks ass at OM Factory (873 Broadway between 18th and 19th Sts, fourth floor; 212-353-3500 • 265 W 37th St at Eighth Ave, 17th floor; 212-616 -8662,, which offers twists on the practice. Instructor Kristina Cubrilo packs in kickboxing, vinyasa flow, stretches and meditation in her Yoga Fight Club (Mon 7:30pm at Union Square studio)—all in an hour and 15 minutes. Partner with a friend during the kickboxing segment (gloves, mitts and pads are provided). Kickboxing newbies needn’t fear—Cubrilo teaches basic combos that include punches like the hook and the upper cut. The class is a whole-body workout that targets the core, biceps, triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, so if you’re not in fighting shape you will be sore the next day.

Another challenging, partners-based class, AcroYoga (Mon–Thu, Fri) combines acrobatics and vinyasa. The class is divided into teams consisting of a flyer, a base and a spotter, to construct poses such as the “Bat,” in which the base lies on the ground with their legs vertically extended to support the upside-down flyer at the hips. Purchase a one-week trial of unlimited classes (excludes series) for $45 or drop-in for an individual class ($17–$20).

Work up a serious sweat while learning how to ward off an attacker in James Sherman’s Krav Maga (“contact combat” in Hebrew) classes at the JCC in Manhattan (334 Amsterdam Ave at 76th St; 646-505-5708,; Sept 10–Oct 29, Tue 9pm; $35 per class, members $25). Founded by Imi Lichtenfeld in 1930s Czechoslovakia as self-defense against anti-Semitic attacks, Krav Maga has developed into an official practice taught in Israel Defense Force training and used at advanced levels in elite forces such as the counterterrorism units Yamam and Duvdevan. Sherman, who has trained under David Kahn (U.S. Chief Instructor of Israeli Krav Maga) and Haim Gidon (Grandmaster of the Israeli Krav Maga Association), says the practice teaches responses to a “street attack” rather than a “sports fight” as seen in MMA and jujitsu. Students will learn how to react to attacks that involve a gun or knife, choking and so on. “With Krav Maga you’re learning muscle memory in what to do in worst-case scenarios,” Sherman says. “When you’re learning how to kick, knee and elbow during an attack you are engaging your core the whole time.” If you’re more interested in the health benefits of the martial art, Sherman’s new “RJVNation Whole Body Fitness” (see website for class schedule; $35 per class, members $25) combines Krav Maga with an intense workout, plus a suggested 14-day challenge to “reset” your eating and drinking habits.

If your nine-to-five is getting in the way of your kettlebell habit, consider making a career out of working out. According to National Academy of Sports Medicine fitness education consultant David Albo, personal training is one of the 30 fastest-growing professions: Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest a projected increase of 29 percent from 2008 to 2018.

This past spring, the Borough of Manhattan Community College launched its National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Training (NASM-CPT) program. NASM offers health and fitness programs at institutions across the country, and designs curricula based on scientific findings from the NASM Research Institute at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, but BMCC is one of only two institutions in NYC to offer its personal-trainer certification program. To stay on top of their fitness game, NASM-certified trainers must “recertify” every two years, and according to Albo, the qualification is preferred by health clubs such as Crunch and 24 Hour Fitness. The fall session for NASM-CPT will begin on November 4 at BMCC’s Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development (25 Broadway near Morris St, eighth floor; 212-346-8424,; $3,400). The 25-week course covers topics such as human-movement science, exercise techniques, coaching, nutrition, safety and how to brand yourself in the fitness industry.

Home and garden

Homeowners who want to avoid costly bills—and Tim Allen–esque home improvement scenarios—will benefit from a series of Hands On Home Repair Workshops ($65 each), taught by former contractor (and historical novelist) Richard Crabbe at New York City College of Technology/CUNY (25 Chapel St between Jay St and Flatbush Ave, Downtown Brooklyn;, 718-552-1170). Learn how to fix that irritating running toilet or leaky faucet in the Homeowner’s Guide to Basic Plumbing (Oct 23 6–9pm). In Everyday Electricity You Can Do Yourself (Oct 30 6–9pm), Crabbe will dispel the mysteries of the breaker box and show you how to wire switches and outlets. Plaster and Sheetrock Repair (Nov 6 6–9pm) focuses on repairing holes and cracks in interior walls, plus installing new ones. Even if you’re not planning on becoming a DIY devotee, “part of the advantage to having a little more basic knowledge is the ability to communicate more effectively with tradespeople,” says Crabbe. Carpentry and tiling, among other skills, are also covered. Due to the hands-on element (you’ll get to practice on fixtures such as toilets and sink valves and a mocked-up section of a wall, for example), classes are limited to 16 and fill up fast, so register as early as possible in August.

Learn to revamp your worn-out seating or give flea market furniture new possibilities with beginner upholstery classes at the Furniture Joint (35 Great Jones St between Bowery and Lafayette St; 212-598-4260, Owner-craftsman Matthew Haly, author of Matthew Haly’s Book of Upholstery, teaches the art to groups of eight to ten at his downtown Manhattan studio over four weekly sessions (Mon–Thu 6–8:30pm, Sat 8–10:30am; $475). Using Haly-built ottoman frames, students will learn to use the tools of the trade, how to attach webbing and springs and how to cover the seat in their own fabric. Classes are held on a rolling basis and scheduled month to month, but there is currently a waiting list of about 100 disciples, so it may take a couple of months to get started.

Whether you’re considering a career in the field or want to gain skills to decorate your own home, Introduction to Interior Design (classes start Sept 9, Oct 28, various times; $660) at New York School of Interior Design (170 E 70th St between Lexington and Third Aves; 212-472-1500, gives you “a few of the tools designers use when they look at an empty room,” says Ellen Fisher, the school’s dean and VP for academic affairs. In six two-hour sessions, you’ll be guided through concept, color, furniture layout and even a bit of drafting. Since all NYSID faculty are experienced design professionals, you’ll also acquire valuable insights into the profession. Via designing a living room, or a similar project, you’ll go through every step of the process, from “programming” (compiling a list of the client’s requirements and how they’ll use the space) to choosing fabrics and furniture—continuing-ed students have access to the school’s Mario Buatta Materials Atelier, an open work space that is also a trove of donated samples. A new online version of the course is also available. If you decide to continue your studies, no portfolio is required for the Basic Interior Design certificate, which can be taken on a part-time basis, or the three-year M.F.A., which must be full-time but is open to students with an undergraduate degree in any field.

Looking to spruce up your living room, terrace or windowsill with some leafy color? The New York Botanical Garden will host “Apartment Gardener’s Saturday” on November 9 at its Manhattan satellite Midtown Education Center (20 W 44th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 800-322-6924, Choose to attend the entire program ($102, members $92) or individual workshops ($38, members $34). The day kicks off with “Creating an Indoor Garden” (10am–noon): Interior landscape designer Christopher S. Raimondi will advise participants on how to choose plants for their apartments and impart tips on grooming, tools and other essentials. Check out “Growing Herbs Indoors” (12:45–2:45pm) with NYBG’s Gardening Certificate Program coordinator, Leda Meredith, for a lesson on keeping your private herb garden fragrant and fresh through winter. End the day at “Orchids at Home” (3–5pm), in which a former president of the Manhattan Orchid Society, Elena Andrews Gaillard, gives the lowdown on watering and fertilizers to keep that tricky flower as vibrant as an O’Keeffe painting.

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