We all like routine and working within our comfort zones, but sometimes it is good to try something new – to shake things up a bit and widen our horizons. Whether it's learning something new, trying a new food, or going somewhere you wouldn't usually go, it provides a brilliant pick me up, especially during the winter months.
If your New Year's resolution was to take up a new hobby in 2017, there's absolutely bucket loads of activities to get your teeth into around Manchester.
If there's a sport you have always wanted to try, now's the time to do it. As well as creating a natural high, exercise helps your body to burn fat and keeps you healthy. If the thought of a jog around the block doesn't appeal, don't worry. Manchester has plenty of exciting activities to choose from; it has some fantastic facilities.
Skiing and Snowboarding
If you have always wanted to look cool on the slopes, it's time to head to Chill Factore. Offering both snowboarding and skiing lessons, Chill Factore shows that things have come on a bit since the days of the dry slope. Don your hats, gloves and scarves, because it's going to get cold, but once on the slope, you're never going to want to leave.
Helly Hansen Watersports Centre, Salford Quays
Not everyone has heard of this fabulous Watersports Centre, apart from those in the know, but if you haven't been down yet, make sure you do. Helly Hansen offers all kinds of watersports to choose from which you can try as a one off, or sign up to a course. Choose from Wakeboarding, Windsurfing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Climbing, Raft Building, Powerboating and Open Water Swimming. More information can be found at www.salfordcommunityeisure.co.uk/watersports-centre.
If you want to get into cycling but you'd rather keep off the roads, Manchester is lucky to have its very own Velodrome, where many of the Olympians trained in the lead up to the Olympics and Paralympics. As well as the Velodrome itself, if you fancy something a little different there's a BMX Arena which opened in 2011 and is suitable for all abilities. Additionally, there are Mountain Bike trails at Clayton Vale and Phillips Park.
Trampolining has become extremely popular in Manchester over the last couple of years as a fun and energetic way of getting fit. Wherever you are, there's bound to be a trampoline park near you.
Head to Jump Nation or Oxygen at Trafford Park, Go Air at Eastlands, AirVault or JumpXtreme in Bolton and Bounce Central in Salford. Many of the trampoline centres offer special exercise sessions too if you're less worried about technique and more concerned with getting fit.
Nothing is more satisfying than making something with your hands. Even if you're not naturally crafty, have a go – you might surprise yourself. With the popularity of The Great British Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throw Down, there's never been a better time to learn how to make something from scratch.
There are lots of shops and cafes around Manchester which offer all kinds of crafting workshops, it's simply a choice of choosing which to do. Once you try, you're bound to get hooked! Here is a small selection of places to choose from if you want to get making –the sky's the limit.
Manchester Craft & Design Centre in the Northern Quarter holds a variety of workshops throughout the year from jewellery making and working with pewter, to calligraphy. There are also some lovely shops to browse whilst you are there and a cafe selling tasty food.
The Ministry of Craft
The Ministry of Craft has locations at the Northern Quarter's Fred Aldous and The Edge in Chorlton and offers a whole host of classes to get you into creating. From Curtain Making and Dress Making to Crochet and Beginners Sewing classes, they guarantee their classes are fun and affordable - www.ministryofcraft.co.uk
Junk Shop, Manchester
As well as offering affordable clothes, and having a fabulous ethos of decorating its interior entirely with recycled or reclaimed materials, the Junk Shop runs the School of Junk which includes dressmaking and quilting workshops - www.thejunkshop.co.uk
7 Limes Pottery, Hulme
7 Limes Pottery offers a variety of pottery classes, if you fancy creating something new, including taster sessions, weekend beginner's courses and evening classes. So there's simply no excuse not to have a go - www.7limes.co.uk
Slattery's is almost a kind of demi-god when it comes to cake shops. Women flock to try their cakes, and for children, it's almost like they've stepped into a Roald Dahl book with gorgeous chocolate delights as far as they can see. They also hold workshops where you can get involved with anything from chocolate workshops and wedding cake workshops, to learning sugar craft skills - www.slattery.co.uk
If you have always had a passion for singing, or envied people who can play an instrument, make 2017 the year you do something about it. Making music is a fabulous hobby – studies have shown it actually helps prevent memory loss. If working in a choir or orchestra, it's also great for your self-confidence.
Join a Choir
Singing is a brilliant way of relieving stress, and joining a choir can give provide you with a new skill whilst getting to know a whole group of people. Not all choirs expect you to audition, and whether you are male or female, young or old, there are plenty of choirs around Manchester to choose from.
To find a choir which suits your availability and the type of music you like to sing, visit ww.bigbigsing.org
Learn to Play an Instrument
There are a whole host of instruments to be discovered – would you like to play in an orchestra with a strings or woodwind instrument, or would you like something that sounds great on its own such as the keyboard or piano?
There are plenty of musical experts out there who can advise you on which instruments to buy, and point you in the direction of teachers to help get you started. It's clearly addictive – you often find people who after learning one instrument, are keen to learn another too.
Key organisations and shops which can help get you started in your musical endeavours include:
MAPAS (Musical and Performing Arts Service)is run throughout Salford and provides a team of tutors as well as giving musicians a chance to play with others.
Dawsons offers music lessons at its Music Schools in Altrincham and Warrington. You can choose from guitar, piano or woodwind lessons. For more information visi www.dawsons.co.uk
Rimmers Music School operates over their shop in Bury and offers music lessons in piano, keyboard, guitar and drums.
Once you have begun to learn an instrument, you can get in touch with your local music centre to link up with fellow musicians. Music Centres can be found in most locations of Manchester such as Blackley, Chorlton, Hulme, Didsbury and Gorton and offer a chance to play with other people and perform in an orchestra or a band. For more details, visi www.oneeducation.co.uk.
So, what are you waiting for? Get researching and make 2017 the year you do something different.