How to Exercise Your Brain While Enjoying “La Dolce Vita”

Now that you've finally retired and have some free time, perhaps you might be interested in learning some things that you previously never had time to learn. But first, you must decide where you want to gain this new knowledge and with whom you want to gain it.The last place in the world that might come to mind for taking classes in the subject of your choice would probably be some sleepy little Mexican fishing village! Back in early 1960‘s, Puerto Vallarta was just that, a sleepy little Mexican fishing village, as portrayed in “The Night of the Iguana”. Well, things have changed south of the border; Vallarta is now home to 350,000 inhabitants and growing daily. Of the 350,000 people, we can only estimate that 50,000 are North Americans. With tens of thousands of successful retirees in Vallarta, so too is an abundance of knowledge on just about every subject imaginable. Chances are, no matter what your area of interest might be, there are retirees in Vallarta that possess expertise in that area and are willing and anxious to share it. Thus, you will find classes in just about every area of interest, having fellow retirees as classmates. Below, is what we believe to be the first published list of some of the various subjects taught in Vallarta. Surely others have been overlooked; however the purpose for presenting the following list of 16 subjects is to give you a general idea of what is available for you to learn while living in Paradise. It begins with the most obvious, Spanish lessons, and continues through social activities, sports, health related activities, hobbies, and crafts.

  • Spanish classes: Spanish can be studied in the comfort of your home, at your desired pace, by employing any of the many professional tutors available in town. Structured classes in Spanish are offered in a number of schools as well as at the University of Guadalajara branch campus located in Vallarta. For those desiring to be immersed in Spanish lessons, there are one week to one month courses available in remote areas outside of Vallarta such as in Yalapa, a secluded beach reached only by a 45 minute water taxi ride from Vallarta.

  • Dance classes: You name it, they dance it in Vallarta. At this time, Tango and Salsa are probably the most popular classes, however Line, Square, Modern, Jazz, Ballroom, and even Ballet dancing are taught every night in Vallarta. Yes, we have a professional ballet instructor here; so guys, don't forget to bring your slippers! Once you think you're a pretty good dancer, we'll have you checked out by the two internationally renowned dance contest judges that reside in Vallarta!

  • Cards classes: Cards are played every afternoon and evening all over town and therefore the playing retirees are always looking for “fresh blood”. Poker, Gin Rummy, Bridge, Canasta and Thirty-One are most common, with instructions, training, and tutorage given at every club.

  • Mahjong classes: Whatever it is that they do with the dice, tiles, cards, racks, and chips, Mahjong must be a lot of fun; there are Mahjong groups all over town. Again, each club offers lessons and newcomers are always welcome. 

  • Golf & Tennis lessons: Professionals at all seven of the golf courses offer private as well as group lessons. From time to time, free golf clinics and beginner group lessons are also available. The same holds true for tennis at all of the many tennis court complexes.

  • Scuba Diving classes: Shops located on virtually every beach and in many of the hotels offer scuba diving classes. The water, especially south of town near Mismaloya and Los Arcos, is ideal for exploring the abundance of colorful marine life.

  • Exercise, Fitness, and Aerobics classes: Beautiful health clubs and spas are located all over the Puerto Vallarta area, each offering a full range of services including individual and group exercise programs, pampering, and diet control. They tailor the exercise program for each member, demonstrating the proper use of equipment, including weight, frequency, duration and rotation. These clubs also provide guidance on proper diet to be maintained in conjunction with the exercise program.

  • Yoga & Pilates classes: These classes, held daily all over town, are supposed to improve your mental and physical well being, increase flexibility, and strengthen muscles. Evidently these programs work, or at least they're an enjoyable place to spend a couple hours socializing with friends, because there are an awful lot of people in Vallarta attending these classes.

  • Meditation classes: Meditation classes are held in most of the spas and even available every day on the beaches. Evidently PV, with perfect weather throughout its seven month “high season”, is an ideal location for meditating because these classes are quite popular.                                                                                                                                                                      

    (Author's commentary–Perhaps the meditation, yoga, pilates, reflexology, etc. are truly effective, since so many participate in these classes; but all of my friends do their meditating and stretching holding on to the end of a golf club, tennis racket, or fishing rod!)

  • Art classes: Art galleries, studios, and malecon artists are located throughout Puerto Vallarta; so many that there is weekly art walk where strollers can gather and check out the latest artwork. Virtually all of these studios plus a number of local artists offer courses in oil painting, water colors, charcoal, etc. plus sculpturing, carving, ceramics, and every other form of art imaginable. To anyone with the slightest degree of artistic talent and the desire to explore their abilities, Vallarta will be Paradise.

  • Cooking classes: The most popular cooking classes are held during the week of the Puerto Vallarta International Gourmet Festival, at which time world famous chefs come to town to join with the chefs from the many five star restaurants in Vallarta. They put on cooking demonstrations, give structured cooking classes, host wine tasting parties, and serve world class cuisine to the attendees. Less well known, yet still very much enjoyed, are smaller cooking classes held in certain boutique restaurants and of course, Mexican food preparation classes are available everywhere.

  • Acting classes: Puerto Vallarta has been the site for many movies, starting with “Night of the Iguana”. Since that movie was filmed, there have been at least 70 additional films produced in Vallarta including movies such as “Herbie Goes Bananas“, “Predator“, “Revenge“, “Puerto Vallarta Squeeze“, “Kill Bill”, etc. Additionally, the Disney Studio is currently producing a film in Vallarta titled “South of the Border”. Because of all the local filming, the area is full of talented actors offering theater and acting classes to the local residents. Many of these residents are selected as stand-ins for the various films being shot in town while others act as thespians in local plays that are produced for the pleasure of the residents.

  • Music & Singing classes: Due to the number of concerts and plays in the local theaters, there is always a demand for singers and musicians. Consequently, the professionals are always available for music and singing lessons. 

  • Writing workshops: The Puerto Vallarta Writers Group holds weekly meetings, often sponsoring guest speakers in Vallarta. This organization provides aspiring authors with information required to skillfully write and edit, information on markets of interest, and techniques for getting their work published. Whether you're interested in writing poems, articles, short stories, manuscripts, or books, this group of writers will be eager to assist you. Aside from this group, because the climate in PV is perfect from November through May, certain other outside groups like BelleCora Press hold a couple workshops per year in town, bringing new talent and training to the local residents.

  • Photography workshops: A number of the professional photographers in Vallarta give periodic workshops, concentrating on wildlife, marine life, nature, ocean views with the Sierra Madres as a backdrop, and of course, the beautiful people of Vallarta. Again, because of the magnificent climate, outside groups like The Hamilton Workshops come to Vallarta for their five day “bikini and lingerie fashion and glamour” workshop, where they teach the “hands on” aspects of lighting, posing, and working with models. A little of something for everybody in Paradise!

  • Computer training: Between the numerous cyber cafés, computer maintenance and repair shops, and the providers, there are many professionals in town anxious to assist in solving any computer related problems. Working as tutors, they will come to your house and teach you any aspect of computer technology that's of interest to you including digital photography, internet usage, Microsoft programs, etc. Rates for their services are typically a third of what you would pay in the States, if you could find someone for home tutoring there.                                                                                                             

  • As you can see, there are plenty of ways to put your brain to work while enjoying “la dolce vita” in Paradise. Additionally, there must be in excess of one hundred clubs, societies, and organizations with members that are anxious to share their specific knowledge with newcomers. So, if you're interested in learning something new or pursuing an area of interest that you always wanted to pursue but didn't have the spare time, perhaps this is the time and Puerto Vallarta, one of the most beautiful resort destinations in the world, is the place.

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