It’s 2012: Do something new!

Resolutions abound this time of year — but how many of yours are fun?

Yes, exercise, weight loss and cleaning out the garage are all smart goals. But a brand new year is also the perfect time to dust off your secret wish list and experience something you’ve always wanted to try.

Go ahead. We dare you!

Try one or all of these pastime ideas, or chase a dream of your own, to add a spark to your day, boost your confidence and put you in the path of new friends.

Because resolving to have fun is great any time of the year.


Marilyn Nolte wanted to be “one of those cool people spinning in the middle of the ice.”

So, as a young adult she attended ice skating school. Now the skating director at Polar Ice House of Garner, Nolte shares her skills for others’ benefit.

“If you can walk, you can learn to skate!” she said. “The nice thing is that you can skate at any level, year round, in a climate-controlled environment.

“It’s also good exercise. Skating works your legs, uses ab strength, improves posture — it uses pretty much every muscle group. And you get to meet other people, and have that camaraderie.”

Danielle Donaldson of Holly Springs brought her children to the rink for lessons. Now she’s a student too.

Concentration on her face and arms extended, she pushes off to glide across the ice. Carefully following Nolte’s demonstration, she successfully reverses direction on the ice, and breaks into a grin.

“Over time, students develop confidence,” Nolte said. “The biggest thing for any student is to learn it right. It doesn’t matter how young or old; you want a strong foundation.”

Donaldson even takes part in competitions, incorporating basic skating skills into a simple routine. Contests are held at various skill levels, and Nolte says many adults take part as families cheer them on.

Skating classes for all ages are available here year round, including recreational, figure and hockey, and public skate sessions are held daily.

January is National Skating Month, with special activities planned at Polar Ice House’s three rink locations, in Garner, Cary and Wake Forest.

Polar Ice House also operates the outdoor ice rink for the AT&T Raleigh Winterfest, a two-month-long, family-friendly celebration that runs through Jan. 29.

“I’m having so much fun,” Donaldson said. “This is one of those bucket list kind of things.”

Polar Ice House, Garner
(919) 861-7465


As it turns out, only you think you can’t dance.

Convinced you have no rhythm? Worried about looking awkward on the dance floor?

Don’t be, says Christy Wood, owner of Christy’s DancExplosion in Garner.

“For those willing to stick it out and keep going because they are enjoying themselves, the rewards can be great,” Wood said, including a sense of accomplishment, new friendships and fun.

Christy’s DancExplosion is home to adult clogging classes, and new for 2012 are adult ballet and line dance classes. Wood says a group effort usually works best for beginners.

“The best way for an adult learner to begin is to look for a dance style that interests you, research your options and take action,” she said. “Most people feel more comfortable in a group setting when starting something new. A studio setting is a safe, nurturing and properly equipped environment where fellow dancers offer support and encouragement, work toward common goals and celebrate acquired skills and accomplishments.

“Invite a friend to share the experience with you, take it gradually and enjoy yourself!”

Beyond the fun, dancing is also great for fitness, Wood adds.
Local dance-for-fitness offerings include classes via Garner Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources; see listings. But recreational dance offers fitness benefits too.

“Dancing is a great way to be more physically active,” Wood said, “and the vast array of dance styles means that dance can be enjoyed by everyone.

“Physically, dance improves flexibility, builds strength, increases endurance, boosts brain power and reduces stress and tension. Socially, dance contributes to higher self confidence and a positive outlook.”

A new year, a positive new you … as in you absolutely, positively can dance.

Christy’s DancExplosion, Garner
(919) 779-1337


Colette Purta of Raleigh will go just about anywhere on her motorcycle — even shopping for groceries.

“It’s exhilarating; all my senses are on alert,” she said. “It’s totally different from driving (a car).”

Will Stephenson, owner of Team Powersports in Garner and Smithfield, says Purta is not alone in loving to ride.

“Imagine all the problems going on in your life; you can pull out of the driveway, twist the throttle and get a clear mind,” he said. “The power is fun to play with, being impressed with what the bike can do. And then there’s the cool factor.”

“It’s pure stress relief,” agreed sales manager Donald Butcher, “whether you want economical transportation or fun, like touring to the beach or mountains.”

From motorcycles to dirt bikes, trikes to ATVs, side-by-sides and even dune buggy-style vehicles, the fun can be found on two, three or four wheels.

“We see a lot of first-time riders,” Stephenson said. “People are curious; they come in and dream.

“So we explain the safety gear, go over the fit of a bike, positioning, and their riding vision. We go through all the processes of what suits their needs, to put them on something comfortable that gives them longevity.”

Those determined to make the dream a reality can learn to ride in a controlled environment on Team Powersports’ off-road test track.

ATV safety training and Motorcycle Safety Foundation-certified classes are offered via Apex-based MotoMark1, with an expanded schedule for 2012.

Local community colleges also offer certification classes, Stephenson adds.

Butcher says couples often enjoy learning together, and female riders are a fast-growing sector of the industry.

“Riding relaxes me,” Purta said. “For me it’s just a getaway. I love adventure — and I get 72 miles per gallon!”

After all, Stephenson said, “You only live once.”

Team Powersports, Garner
(919) 772-7866


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