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Photograph: The School of Life

The best courses to up your cred in Sydney

Listen to Gandhi. Learn as if you'll live forever.

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Could there be any goals loftier than self-betterment and self-realization? Men looking to sate their curiosity in a certain area, improve their skill set or simply try something new recreationally may enjoy some of the courses on offer from the following institutions, which cover everything from certain culinary arts to unusual athletic activities.

1. Work-Shop Sydney

Things to do Chippendale
Work-Shop offer a wide variety of classes from their spaces on Cleveland Street in Redfern, Sydney and Argyle Street in Fitzroy, Melbourne. There’s meditation and ‘laughter yoga’ workshops for those looking to relax and disconnect, leather craft, welding and guitar lessons for those looking to learn a new skill, and a ‘communicating with confidence’ course for those looking to improve themselves. Then there are courses that are just for fun. Take for example the ‘water colour and wine’ workshop, which teaches the basics of water colour painting over a glass or two from boutique wine label Cake. Check out their website to see what’s coming up in your city. Redfern.

2. Sydney Wine Centre

A good knowledge of wine — what to pick and when — is an enviable thing to have, and also one that’s highly useful in a wide range of social situations. One can brush up at Sydney Wine Centre, which provides an introductory course, a more comprehensive four-night course, and handy one-off courses (like ‘how to read a wine list’). There’s no need to be intimidated — the introductory course assumes zero prior knowledge or tasting experience. Pyrmont.

3. Australian Writers' Centre

Things to do Milsons Point
“If you can imagine it, you can write it,” is one of the adages of the Australian Writer’s Centre. For those who’ve ever had an idea for a screenplay or novel, who’ve ever wanted to try their hand at journalism, or who just want to increase their written communication skills for work and general life, the company offers dozens of introductory and more advanced courses to give them the confidence to get started. Milsons Point.

4. The School of Life

Studies have shown that emotional intelligence promotes success as much as IQ and technical ability, so it makes sense that there’s finally a school dedicated to developing EQ. Founded by popular philosopher and author Alain de Botton and his colleagues, the global school focuses on learning that’s relevant to everyday life — realizing your potential, developing empathy, bettering conversations, being a good leader, finding the right job, and so on. They offer classes in Sydney and Melbourne, with plans to open a permanent physical space in Sydney before the end of the year. Sign up to their mailing list to be kept abreast of new developments. Darlinghurst.

5. CE Yoga Studio

The positive effects of yoga are well documented — yoga relaxes and focuses the mind, and increases flexibility, strength and general well-being. CE Yoga in Pott’s Point provides private and small group yoga sessions for men, aimed at developing the skills of yoga in a tight-knit community environment. Those new to yoga may choose to have one-on-one sessions with one of their experienced trainers. Uniquely, CE Yoga also offers naked men’s yoga classes, stripping away boundaries with the intention of improving confidence and comfort in one’s skin. They firmly believe that loosening up and becoming comfortable with one’s body is highly important for men of all ages, fitness levels, and body types, and we can’t argue with that. Potts Point. 

6. School of Footwear

The next time someone asks you where you bought your kicks, you can say you didn’t. Sydney’s School of Footwear allows individuals to make their own shoes over a six-day period, from concept to pattern making to ‘clicking’ (the cutting of the leather), and so on, until you’re the proud owner of a pair of shoes customized to the shape of your feet and your personal aesthetic. Founder Darren Bischoff has 25 years experience in studying shoe making, and ensures one-on-one attention by limiting class sizes to four. All you need to bring along is a few pictures of the type of shoe you’d like to create, and he’ll guide you through the rest. Leichhardt.

7. Sydney Sabre

Gentlemen looking for an entirely novel form of exercise and recreation may enjoy learning the art of fencing at Sydney Sabre. If you’ve never done it before, a short 90-minute introductory course or a casual group course may be right for you, where as those with some experience can enjoy 10-week courses and group classes that cater to all skill levels. They also offer personal training sessions and squad classes for those looking to brush up in particular areas, like foot- and bladework. Stanmore.

8. Laugh-Masters Academy

If you’re looking to boost your confidence and learn to think on your feet, and to have fun doing it, perhaps improvisational comedy is for you. LMA operates from the Belvoir St. Theatre in Surry Hills, offering small groups (around 15 per class) the chance to develop their comedic and improvisational skills during eight-week courses. Their instructors have trained in some of the most esteemed comedic schools on the planet, including the Groundlings (alumni include Will Ferrell and Lisa Kudrow), Upright Citizens Brigade (where Tina Fey and Zach Galifianakis cut their teeth), and The Second City (everyone from John Belushi to Stephen Colbert went here). Surry Hills.

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