New Year, New Austin

New Year, New Austin

Twelve outside-the-box activities that will renew your vigor for the city.

While we all have loyalties to our favorite restaurant or gym, the New Year offers the perfect opportunity to explore parts of Austin we haven’t already seen. Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself to a new fitness routine or pamper your skin, explore new cuisine or give back to the community, the city has something for the adventurer in us all. As you embark on your newfound resolutions for 2012, here are 12 ways to experience an entirely new Austin.

Wellness

Austin Aerial Yoga
4227 Guadalupe St.
(512) 900 9247
austinaerialyoga.com

Instructor Lydia Michelson-Maverick has taken yoga in a new direction: up! Aerial Yoga is a unique hybrid of yoga, combining traditional asanas with the added intensity of aerial conditioning to deepen the workout. “Each pose becomes a full-body exploration as you find new ways to engage your muscles,” notes Michelson-Maverick. Alternately restorative and rigorous, each class may be tailored to the needs of the practitioner. The bold at heart, for example, can challenge themselves to flips, spinning and swinging in the air while supported by fabric hammocks. Austin Aerial Yoga offers weekly classes as well as private and semi-private sessions.

 


Craig Staley of Mellow Johnny's

Mellow Johnny’s
Group Rides
400 Nueces St.
(512) 473 0222
mellowjohnnys.com

Lance Armstrong’s bike shop is not only a retail store for quality bicycling gear but also a central hub for Austin’s biking community. Mellow Johnny’s serves as the starting point for many group rides across the city, which both encourage the beginning rider and challenge more experienced cyclists. From the Ladies Ride, led by the Austin Flyers Women’s Cycling Club, to advanced Mountain Rides, Mellow Johnny’s offers a group for every bicyclist. A great option for beginning group riders are the No- Drop rides, which set fixed meeting points for bicyclists to regroup along the route. Be sure to enjoy a pre-ride snack at the shop’s Juan Pelota Café and get to know your fellow bicyclists.

 

Informal Classes at the University of Texas
Thompson Conference Center
2405 Robert Dedman Dr.
(512) 471 3121
informalclasses.org

UT’s Informal Classes grew out of a desire to make education a lifelong process. Today, the university offers a wide variety of classes to the Austin community, including health, wellness and exercise courses to improve both physical and mental well-being. Course lengths range from three weeks to a few months, so students can select the class that best fits their schedules. “These classes are for just about anyone who wants to venture out and try something new.” Informal Classes Coordinator Monica Mercado says. Among the informal course offerings for 2012 are Fit for Life, an educational healthy lifestyle program, Western Horseback Riding and Aerial Circus Skills.

 

Beauty + Skincare

W3ll People
215 S. Lamar Blvd, Ste. B
(512) 366 7963
w3llpeople.com

Developed by a noted cosmetic dermatologist, celebrity makeup artist and environmentalist, W3ll People offers a line of premium cosmetics that is both good for the skin and environmentally-friendly. Shirley Pinkson, cofounder and makeup artist to clients like Naomi Campbell, says, “My goal was to create a ‘happy,’ toxin-free brand that delivers like conventional cosmetics.” Devoid of harmful chemicals, W3ll People cosmetics feature vibrant mineral pigments made with 100 percent natural, antioxidant-rich ingredients. “The beautiful thing,” Pinkson adds. “Is that you can wear W3ll People and feel good about it.”

 

Inventive Eco-Organic
(512) 562 2397
inventiveecoorganic.com

Renowned aesthetician Marisa Hernandez developed Inventive Eco-Organic in 1994, a line of skincare products made with mostly organic, all-natural ingredients such as herbal extracts, rich botanical oils, clays and various sea source ingredients. “Everything that I put in my products is probably in your kitchen,” Hernandez laughs. Handmade just outside of Austin and bottled by two dedicated local artisans, the skincare line reflects Hernandez’s core philosophy of integrity: “We don’t treat ingredients in any way that compromises the original life source.” She explains, “This is not just skincare. It is about integrity in the full meaning of the word, devotion and a gift. It’s a holistic approach made from experience by a team of givers.” Inventive Eco-Organic products are available online and at salons across Texas, including milk + honey.

 

Neu Skin
1411 W. 6th St.
(512) 680 5974
neuskinaustin.com

Eschewing harsh and invasive procedures, aesthetician Elizabeth Bentley offers highly personalized, all-natural facials and microdermabrasion featuring Inventive Eco- Organic products. Recognizing that each individual’s skin is unique, Bentley develops a personalized treatment and regimen for each client according to his or her skin type and development over time. A former student of Marisa Hernandez of Inventive Eco-Organic, Bentley admired her mentor’s dedication to “delivering the best service and quality possible.” Today, Bentley continues that philosophy with a commitment to maintaining a “passion and sensitivity” toward each of her clients’ individual needs.

 

Dining

Slow Food Austin Farm Tours
slowfoodaustin.org

Three years ago, Slow Food Austin began its Farm Tour program, which seeks to educate Austinites about their food and the farmers who grow it. As guests stroll along a local farm, they will learn more about the techniques and craft of farming from the farmers themselves. The farm tour coordinator, Betsy Levy, remarks, “I think everyone should take a farm tour. There’s no better way to get an understanding of food than to start where it comes from.” After the tour, guests are able to take home certain products straight from the farm, which is included in the ticket price. “You’ll understand better how that produce came about and who produced it and what you can do with it,” Levy says. Previous tours have visited a diverse array of farms, including Montesino Ranch, Richardson Farms and Pure Luck Goat Dairy Farm.

 

B44: A Pop-Up Restaurant
Friday, January 27, 6:30pm
4001 N. Lamar Blvd.
(512) 206 1014
centralmarket.com

Chef Daniel Olivella of San Francisco’s acclaimed tapas restaurant, B44, is bringing a taste of Spain to Austin for a single evening at Central Market. Twice featured on USA Today’s “Best 20 Dishes in America” list, B44 has become a tapas staple in San Francisco, and Austinites now have a rare chance to savor Chef Olivella’s modern twist on Spanish flavors. Guests will enjoy the traditional fare of Catalunya, including Spanish tortillas, lamb kebabs and stuffed squid, each course paired with Spanish wine. Over the course of the evening, Chef Olivella will be demonstrating the preparation of the dishes and discussing the inspiration behind the meal.

 

Austin Eats Food Tours
(512) 963 4545
austineatsfoodtours.com

Andy and Lindsey Potter began Austin Eats Food Tours to share their love of Austin’s diverse culinary scene with both tourists and Austinites. “About 65 percent of our guests live in the Austin area,” Andy Potter says. “They’re finding new restaurants to go back to and frequent as new favorites.” Offering a variety of tours, with stops ranging from a BBQ van to an upscale happy hour, the Potters emphasize three key components: knowledgeable guides, excellent local food and restaurant involvement, so guests have the opportunity to not only experience a variety of local foods but also to meet with the restaurant owners themselves. “Our tours are, in the truest sense, an eclectic taste of Austin,” says Potter.

 

Volunteer

Green Gate Farms
8310 Canoga Ave.
(512) 949 9830
newfarminstitute.org/volunteer

In 2006, Skip Connett and Erin Flynn founded Green Gate Farms to provide both educational resources and certified organic food to the East Austin community. Since then, Green Gate Farms has expanded its vision of a community-based farm to include field trips, camps for children and adults, agricultural training and a variety of classes, including yoga in the hayloft. Green Gate Farms also maintains an open-door policy for volunteers, who receive fresh produce after a three to four hour shift. “Every day is different on our certified organic farm,” Flynn says. Volunteers might find themselves planting and seed-saving on one day and mobbing rare breed pigs to a new pasture the next. No experience is necessary, but all skills, including carpentry and painting, are welcome. “We want volunteers to know they can have a farm in their life, if they choose to,” Flynn says. “Green Gate Farms is a retreat for working, relaxing, learning and savoring the gifts of each season.”

 

Learning Ally
1314 W. 45th St.
(512) 795 4305
learningally.org

Since 1948, Learning Ally has sought to make learning materials available to the blind, visually impaired and those with learning disabilities. With studios across the country, the organization relies on volunteers to create digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles that are easily accessible to its 300,000 members. Anne Corn, Ed. D., a member and volunteer reader for 46 years, notes that Learning Ally “provides a quality product that is rare to come by… It really helps to even the playing field for students who need this access.” Corn in fact credits much of her own academic success to Learning Ally’s innovative technology. After attending an orientation session, volunteers typically lend two hours a week, participating in and overseeing the recording process.

 

Austin State Hospital Insights Art Show & Sale
Thursday, January 26, 6-9pm
600 River St.
(512) 419 2330
ashvolunteers.org

Support the Austin State Hospital by attending the Insights Art Show at the Mexican American Cultural Center, featuring over 100 pieces of art donated by patients participating in ASH’s various art programs as well as professional artists in the community. Guests can look forward to live music, hors d’oeuvres and drinks, as they enjoy the show’s unique artwork. “Guests have often expressed surprise at the beauty and sophistication of the work,” Art Therapist Bess Green says. “It is easy to imagine that [patients] are a ‘type’ of people, and that there would be a uniformity to the work. In reality, art is created from the unique strengths of the individual. This is part of art’s therapeutic potential, the shift from patient to artist and agent in one’s life.” Tickets to the show are $35, and proceeds go to improving the lives of children and adults who receive services at the Austin State Hospital. To get more involved, the Hospital also offers numerous volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Visit their website for more information.