Entering a new year marks a point of change, exploration and possibility.

Channel the stress of being cooped up during the pandemic into new dreams and don’t let your goals stay isolated and stagnant. Entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Valley are offering several ways to unlock new skills and abilities in socially distanced environments.

Tired of baking bread and looking to unlock your inner creativity? Sign up for classes from area artists.

Joyce Smith from Creative Designs routinely hosts classes that infuse her skills as a woodworker with painting and has partnered with Elkton Parks and Recreation to host community classes. Today, Smith will lead a workshop to paint a “Winter Wonderland Snowman” on canvas.

Smith graduated from James Madison University with her art teaching license and taught classes at Larkin Arts before the business closed in 2020. Now, she’s teaching families and children how to bring imagination to life in visual art lessons. Smith said interest in classes have peaked during virtual school semesters as parents invest in children’s art education, and students have benefited from the social interaction.

“A lot of students are just looking for something to do. They might see only one other family while they’re social distancing, or it might just be them in the class, so my classes provide the opportunity to see other students,” she said. “I’m very flexible for whatever the needs of families or individual needs of classes.”

Sign-up for classes are available at artwithmrsjaynie.com.

Has the pandemic inspired you to learn more about health and safety? American Red Cross has several online classes available to be taken at convenience.

Maybe the inability to dine out has hindered your meal plans to canned beans and ramen. Zac McDorman of Zac’s Snack Shack, and the RISE Mac and Cheese-Off 2018 gold medalist, offers individual and video conference culinary classes to help people prepare their favorite foods simply and affordably.

“You don’t have to go and eat fast food. I teach them how to do enough meals to eat cheap and healthy,” McDorman said. “Young people, old people, whatever it is they enjoy eating, I want to show them the easy way to cook it, so they don’t have to go out and pay someone. … Instead of trying to change their mindset of how they should or shouldn’t eat, how to eat it better.”

Aspirations to become the finest chef of your friend group and whip up a fabulous meal to celebrate the end of 2020?

Valley native Adrian Taylor is an executive chef with over 20 years experience in restaurant settings. Taylor founded Chef’s Hike in 2018 as a social network for food through which individuals can register for cooking classes designed to introduce healthy, flavorful and beautiful meals into everyday life.

If the isolation has you feeling sluggish and ready to become more active, gyms are open and personal trainers are ready to take on new clients, both in person and online.

Harrisonburg and Bridgewater 24/7 Family Fitness has a four week FitZone challenge for the New Year with unlimited classes.

General manager Brandon Obaugh said the challenge is offered quarterly and always garners interest as a fat burning and muscle building program.

“Many people are ready to meet whatever goal they set for themselves in a safe manner,” he said. “Our personal trainers are offering virtual training for some of their clients.”

Morgan Tebeau of Fused 2 Fitness has a program designed for the year’s start that opposes traditional diet culture resolutions with “inner warrior resolutions” that promote self-love alongside fitness instructionals.

Contact Kathleen Shaw at 574-6274 or kshaw@dnronline.com. Follow Kathleen on Twitter @shawkareport

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