By Sara Gaynes Levy
Think back to six months ago. Bored and stuck at home, you decided to try your hand at something: making a loaf of sourdough, or streaming a yoga video on YouTube, or ordering some yarn to try and knit your first scarf. Now come back to the present. If still, half a year later, you haven’t stopped baking or downward-facing-dog-ing or perling, we’ve got news for you: this is not just a passing quarantine interest. This is officially a hobby, and it’s time to take it to the next level.
Luckily, if you picked up an activity that you were able to start during quarantine, it shouldn’t be too hard to gather up the resources you need to further said passion. Take these tips from fellow amateurs-turned-major-enthusiasts and you’ll be practically pro in no time.
Follow the experts
Digitally, at least. Open your Instagram explore page and seek out accounts that focus on whatever it is you’re into. “You want to find someone who not only walks the walk and talks the talk, but who you can relate to,” says Emily Abbate, a former casual runner who is now a certified personal trainer, run coach, and host of the fitness podcast Hurdle. “You wanna feel like this person could be a true friend of yours.” By virtually tagging along with them—whether they’re showing their workouts or makeup tutorials—you’re bound to pick up a thing or two and improve your own game.
See if you can literally level up
Now is a great time to actually study your interests. There are Masterclasses with insight from experts on everything from poker to skateboarding to photography, or you can try your hand at earning some official credentials. Alicia Tenise, a DC-based lifestyle blogger, has been into wine for years, but quarantine gave her the perfect opportunity to take a digital, entry-level wine certification course offered by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). “I’m always going to be a wine enthusiast—I’m not trying to become a sommelier,” she says. “But now I know the jargon and the exact way to open and pour wine that is standard around the globe. I can take this knowledge and go anywhere in the world and feel confident speaking to a winemaker.” See if there are similar classes for whatever you’re into, because that kind of knowledge feels damn good.
Invest in the gear
If you look like a pro, you’ll feel like a pro, even if you’re not leaving home. “It is so important to have the right stuff!” says Tenise. For example, she learned in her WSET course that there was an industry-preferred wine opener—and it was much cheaper than the fancy wine openers she’d been using. “It’s $10. It has no frills. But it’s such a game-changer. I can open a bottle in three seconds flat,” she says. Abbate points out there’s actually research that proves when you feel like you look good, you’ll work harder. So if you can, buy the matching bra and leggings set, the good yoga mat, the proofing basket for your bread. You really will get more out of whatever you’re doing!
Find a hobby buddy
Going deep on a hobby is a lot more fun if you’ve got someone to talk about it with (even if it’s over Zoom). “One of my friends had taken a sourdough making class earlier this year and I knew she’d been baking loaves of sourdough ever since—when I was ready to get started I learned a lot from talking to her,” says Paige Fowler, an Instagrammer who chronicles her kitchen journeys on @food4tots. If you don’t already know someone into the same hobby as you, start looking for one! Social media (or, say, Bumble’s friend-finding mode Bumble BFF) offers tons of ways to connect with like-minded folks just dying to trade recipe tweaks or compare mile times.
Keep track of what you’ve accomplished
Tenise keeps notes about the wines she tries on an app called Vivino, which stores her reviews and lets her spot patterns and trends among her favorite vintages. “It makes you more of an empowered wine drinker—if you look at the notes, you can figure out what kinds of wine you’re going to like,” she says. She also set a goal of visiting 100 wineries, marking down each visit in a spreadsheet. Abbate tracks her runs in the Strava app to watch her times shrink as she chases her goal of a sub-6 minute mile. Point being: having some visual reminder of how far you’ve come in your hobby can help you see what a true expert you really are. Seeing is believing!