Decide to learn something new in 2022 with these lessons for body and soul


The words “New Year’s resolution” should not make people shiver or sneer.

Resolving to do things better or differently in the New Year doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sweat profusely in the gym or skip sundaes. There are fun ways to improve yourself, exercise both your mind and your body. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to ice skate, which is fun and keeps you active. The same goes for that pickleball we have all heard so much about.

All over Maine at this time of year there are classes and activities that can help you stay active and even learn something at the same time. Below are a few ideas to get you started. As always, check the COVID requirements before you go or sign up. And if the class or conference you are registering for is canceled, you can participate in a centuries-old tradition of postponing your resolutions a little longer.

Pickleball players bang their paddles after a game in Lewiston in October. Would this be your year to try it out? Daryn Slover / Journal of the Sun


Pickleball has grown in popularity over the past decade, largely because it’s relatively easy to learn, players will tell you. While the name may suggest that food is involved in one way or another, the sport combines the familiar elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. The net is smaller than in tennis, the rackets are larger than in table tennis, and the balls are plastic. As for the name of the game, which was first developed in the 1960s, there are conflicting stories about its origin. One is that Pickles was the name of the dog of one of the families involved in his invention. Another is that one of the game’s founders believed that since the new sport borrowed from various other sports, it was a bit like a crewed Pickle Boat, made up of people from various other boats.

Many community and recreation centers around Maine offer pickleball lessons. One hotspot is the South Portland Community Center, which offers beginner pickleball sessions on Fridays in January and Fridays and Sundays in February. Similar sessions are also offered in the spring. Four-day sessions cost $ 35 for residents and $ 45 for non-residents. You must bring sneakers and a bottle of water. Paddles will be available during the lessons. For more information, visit

Nettie Gentempo teaches hoop dancing in Norway and online. Photo courtesy of Nettie Gentempo


While pickleball has become popular fairly recently, hoops have been around since we were all kids. Before, some of us were kids, actually. So maybe you’ve always wanted to do this but failed to get your middle section to work properly. You can take hoop dancing lessons with Nettie Gentempo, who on last year’s day started hooping every day for a year and documented her journey on Instagram at @hoopwithnettieloops.

She offers classes at Maison Lorax in Norway, with classes for children and adults. The cost ranges from $ 50 to $ 60 per month and hoops are provided, but you can bring your own. It also offers pre-recorded online courses via Patreon, where the cost is $ 5 to $ 25, and is open to teaching group lessons. She can be contacted at [email protected]. For more information on in-person hoop dancing lessons, visit

Maya Williams will co-host a four-week virtual series on poetry and self-care presented by the Portland Public Library. Photo courtesy of the Portland Public Library


Maybe you read poetry in high school and thought it wasn’t your cup of tea. Or maybe you like poetry. Either way, you could benefit from a workshop that explores how poetry can improve your health and help you focus on your identity and artistic expression. These are the goals of a four-week virtual program called Poetry Across which begins January 8 at noon. The free series is presented by the Portland Public Library and hosted by Portland Poet Laureate Maya Williams with poet Myri Udeubor. Further sessions of the series will take place in the spring, when Williams will be joined by other poets and writers, including Gibson Fay-Leblanc and Myles Bullen. For more information, visit and search for events.


Expand your geographic imagination with a virtual author talk presented by the Osher Cartographic Library at the University of Southern Maine. Authors Matt Brown and Rhys B. Davies and illustrator Mike Hall will talk about their new book, “Atlas of imagined places: from Lilliput to Gotham City”, January 22 at noon. The book is a piece of fictional geography inspired by literary fiction, TV shows, and movies. The free event is limited to the first 500 people registered. For more information, visit

Could you do it on ice? Maybe if you take skating lessons this year. Russ Dillingham / Journal of the Sun


With the Winter Olympics slated for February (hopefully they stay on schedule), everyone is starting to think about the beauty and grace of ice skating. Maybe you grew up in a warm place or tried to skate but never got past the wobble stage. Either way, it’s never too late to learn.

Adult ice skating lessons are offered at William B. Troubh Ice Arena in Portland, with a six-week session starting Jan. 8. ice rink with coaches. Six-week sessions cost $ 99 for Portland residents and $ 105 for non-residents. Masks are compulsory. For more information on the sessions and other skating lessons offered, visit

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