Eating quinoa will not make you a better person, and you do not have to sludge through coding classes to sharpen your mind. In his new book, Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning , Tom Vanderbilt takes up pursuits that are actually fun — surfing, chess, even juggling — and finds power in be- ing a novice. “You’re freed from the worries of impostor syndrome — that anxiety of not being the expert,” he writes, “because no one expects you to be any good.” Here, we celebrate enjoyable in- vestments in your mind, body and spirit with a pick-and-choose portfolio.
FOR YOUR BODY
Tighten your “abs” lazily
It is going to take a little while to dial back a year’s worth of lockdown snacks and stasis. Until then, Spanx’s just-introduced men’s line will keep your belly in check, with a quick-dry fabric blended from nylon and elastane that can streamline your abs and chest while providing lower-back support. Its US$65 ($88) Ultra Sculpt seamless tank disappears under a date-night shirt — but remember, eventually it has to come off.
Swing your way into shape
Tennis greats like Andre Agassi and the Williams sisters trained with Nick Bollettieri in Bradenton, Florida. His programme is now part of the IMG Academy, where you can get whipped into top form on the court at a six-day performance camp, which starts from about US$2,689, including lodging at the academy’s hotel.
Remove embarrassing ink
Whether you have adorned yourself with a simple stick-and-poke or a giant Ben Affleck-style back tattoo, return your skin to a blessedly blank canvas at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, where celebrities such as 50 Cent have come clean. Dr. Roy Geronemus can get basic ink out for a few hundred dollars.
The US$6,800 Sprintbok is a refreshingly analog antidote to the Peloton cult. Its sculptural wood-framed treadmill is powered purely by the runner.
Enhance your hearing
The US$399 IQbuds2 MAX earbuds do not only play music or podcasts; they will also focus your listening for conversations in noisy, crowded spaces — which will presumably be a thing again soon.
Take cardio control
Boxing can provide a balanced blend of strengthening, sweating and stress re- lief. The US$1,219 FightCamp — including a mat, a freestanding bag and sensor-packed gloves — will not punch back, but you’ll end up sore anyway. Add on US$39 a month for classes and coaching.
FOR YOUR MIND
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Paired with a virtual-reality headset such as the Oculus Quest 2, the Tripp app can place you in a Bavarian meadow or a Tasmanian rainforest. The US$4-per- month exercises are like slow-motion video games in psychedelic landscapes.
The US$490 Cove headset uses micro-vibrations behind the ears to improve sleep, boost focus, and reduce anxiety.
Get more far-sighted
You know the planet-saving scientist in every action movie? That could be you with the US$3,000 Unistellar eVscope, which can find and photograph interstellar bodies with remarkable ease and clarity. Use its Planetary Defense programme to help identify and track near-Earth asteroids before it is too late for humanity.
Become more fluent
Learn a language quickly — and luxuriously. Along with in-app lessons, Fluenz offers weeklong Spanish immersion programs starting from US$5,220 that include Michelin-starred meals and stays at luxury hotels in Mexico City, Oaxaca or Barcelona.
Soak in a smarter tub
Winston Churchill supposedly did some of his best thinking in the tub. Imagine what you could do with Kohler’s US$16,000 Stillness bath, which sports a mist generator, full spectrum lights and a Hinoki wood moat.
Pick a card, any card
Part Oblique Strategies, part Tarot, part co-active coaching, a US$28 set of Compass Cards offers prompts to help you find a different approach to the problem that has you flummoxed.
FOR YOUR SPIRIT
Collar a leopard
Protecting wildlife often means tracking it, but that is easier said than done. Help fund those efforts on Exploration Co’s ten-day trip to Uganda. For US$25,000 apiece (two-person minimum), you will spend time tagging elusive leopards in Queen Elizabeth National Park with wildlife authority and veterinarian Ludwig Siefert. You will also get three days of trekking in Bwindi’s big ape country.
Build a labyrinth
Walking in a tranquil space is an earlier form of meditation: The Labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral dates to the 13th century. Install a 39-foot-wide, 91%-scale replica of it at your home with a US$28,900 paver kit from Labyrinth Co. Just do not let the project itself undercut the mental health benefits before you start strolling.
Play it again
The intellectual and emotional benefits of learning an instrument have been well documented. Teach yourself piano Guitar Hero-style with Lumi, a US$300 two-octave keyboard with keys that light up and change colour.
Forge a blade
Embrace a little bit of danger with a US$395, two-day knife-making course, certified by the American Bladesmith Society, at the Arc & Flame Center in Rochester, New York. If you don’t burn or cut yourself, were you even there? You might never make another knife, but you will come away with a new family heirloom.
Cook up a gastronomical retreat
Rani Cheema’s boutique travel agency lets serious foodies take a deep dive into a place’s culinary culture. For South Korea, the former Food Network employee loads her trips with four-star hotels, close encounters with chefs, and plenty of street food. But the high- light of this nine-day, US$7,500 trip is a stay at the austere Baekyangsa Temple, home of Seon Buddhist nun and chef of Korean cuisine Jeong Kwan. You will participate in the upkeep of the temple and take a cooking lesson with the nun, a philosopher-chef who counts Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert among her devotees.
Join a book club
For US$25 a month, Literati’s Luminary book club provides access to titles recommended by public figures such as Richard Branson, Malala and Stephen Curry, whose past picks have included Troop 6000 and The Other Wes Moore. You receive one book per month and can join discussions and watch videos about it in Literati’s app. — Bloomberg