After my recap at the end of January (read more here), much has happened in the world of Groupons and Living Social Deals. As you may recall, I had granted myself a few early Christmas presents and bought some bargains last year (read more here). Now, about half a year later, I’ve gotten to try out even more splendid activities.
1) 10 Hapkido Classes with World Martial Arts Center
One day in March I walked into what was to be my very first self-defense class in my adult life. The World Martial Arts Center is conveniently located near the Barclay’s Center and right off Atlantic Ave. Although it was hard to find at first, I somehow managed to open up the door right next to the clinic, press the elevator button, and stumble into a whole new world. The first eminent sign you are not in a normal class? Shoes off right when you enter! The second sign? The heps and hahs going on in the background. The instructor warmly greeted me and looked for a uniform in my size. Yes, you actually start with a uniform during your first class!
While my belt was still white, other people had different colors, so I’m sure advancement can be a solid thing. The 45-minute Hapkido class was originally with two other guys but another instructor pulled me out of the lot as soon as he noticed that I had zero pre-knowledge. So I got a 1-on-1 when fine-tuning the basics of the first moves. What I did not like so much was that I had to “yell” with almost every move I made. This is supposed to ensure correct breathing when you attack. It’s quite awkward in the beginning but I suppose you get used to it.
In 45 minutes I learned a lot and I was certainly planning on taking full advantage of this Groupon, but unfortunately I never
fully recovered returned for another round, as the trip to Germany was in between. I once peeked in again a week after my initial experience, but there was some black belt competition going on and no regular classes held. Overall, from the one time I went, I had a really positive impression and I can recommend this Groupon to anyone living in the Brooklyn area and trying to self-defend themselves. $29 for 10 classes – a true bargain!
2) Cohen’s Fashion Optical
At the end of February my eye glasses broke and I was in dire need of a new pair. Unfortunately, my regular health care did not cover another exam for the eyes so I was forced to look for a solution online. “Just get a Groupon, they have them starting at $30 and upwards” my friend suggested. Oh how right she was!
After searching and reviewing a few of the places, I decided to go for a bargain with Cohen’s Fashion Optical: For only 35 bucks I got an eye exam and a nice frame of glasses, all worth $200. Because of my strength, I paid an additional $35, so a total of 70 bucks. Not too bad for American optometrists. I highly recommend going to the store at 14th St and 5th Ave, as the salespeople are really nice and the optician was a great fit. For less than $100 I now have a fashionable pair of glasses which fit, are the right strength (unlike my old ones) and which I wear during traveling and laptop work. Thumbs up for that!
3) Photography Class with Brooklyn Central
In January, I also started a photography class with Brooklyn Central, located in Dumbo. 6 hours of education for $59 – not bad I’d say! For this bargain I decided to go with the unknown which meant a guide to THE STUDIO. Lightning, affordable gear, and right positioning of accessories was the gist of this class.
Overall, about 20 people attended and in the first hour or so we introduced ourselves while the instructor gave some more information on him and the course. The course was split in half: Three hours the first night and three hours a week later. This I liked, as we were able to digest what we had learned and turn the concept into action during an entire week of waiting time. I now know more about the studio than I did before and am especially thrilled with the lighting techniques we got to test. The teacher tried to engage the class by having various students hold light meters, strobes, and reflectors into position, which gave them hands-on experience.
After the class, a few of us grouped up and even went for a bite to a bar close-by. It was a great way to socialize with other amateur and professional photographers and to get to know their part of the story.
Redeeming this deal was a great way to support and get to know a local school. I am planning on taking their flash course at some point in time.
4) Brooklyn Ballet on three different days
At some point, I stumbled across a dancing deal with Living Social: 5 ballet classes for only $19! And close to where I live! After having joined the YMCA (read more here) and becoming a hobby ballerina, I was stoked to have finally found a school in my new neighborhood. So on a Thursday evening I made my way over there and started Beginner’s Ballet with an animated teacher from New Zealand. I was at first irritated by how improvised the hall looked but quickly got used to it. If you’ve never been, I’d recommend already coming in your ballet gear, as there aren’t any real changing rooms.
Due to the deal, the class was packed with about 20 people, but over the course of the next weeks it did become less crowded. The Thursday course was fun but almost too easy for me, so I went for another day and ended up in the hardest “Beginner’s Class” they offered on Wednesday: After half an hour of bar practice, the instructor took the lesson to the floor and I felt like taking off. I’d recommend this for more advanced ballerinas. The instructor seemed nice, though, and applauded me for not giving up.
Finally I found a medium, with Inna on Tuesdays and so far I’ve stuck to it. She does half an hour of bar and half an hour of floor practice. What is really great is that she divides the class up into two groups, so those that are further advanced can dance in Group 2 while the less experienced ones are in Group 1. On top of the 1-hour-class, there is an additional 30 minutes of freestyle/pointe practice after the regular course. I managed to stay for this one and was baffled at how much you can actually learn in addition to that.
I’ve already used up my Living Social deal but have bought an 8-class ticket for $100 and I am inclined to replenish it once I run out of classes. Brooklyn Ballet – a great school to learn the basics and advance!
5) BonStar Fitness
Starting next month, I will begin my first outdoor boot camp. BonStar Fitness is to be held in Dumbo, so not outrageously far from where I live. I plan on taking the subway to the water and then see what it’s all about. My friend told me about this Groupon(she lives in Dumbo) and this is the first course I’ll be doing with her together. I am excited as to how it will turn out but am also slightly nervous as the only boot camp I took before was a complete disaster. This might be a perfect way to improve my condition and to exercise during the summer. For $39 I am going for 14 classes. We will see!