The gift of swim lessons, which are offered year-round at the Troy Community Center, can create lifelong skills, water safety and a love for the water.

The gift of swim lessons, which are offered year-round at the Troy Community Center, can create lifelong skills, water safety and a love for the water.

Photo provided by the Troy Community Center

Holiday gifts to keep you moving in the new year

Experience gifts spread Christmas joy after the holidays are over

By: Mary Beth Almond | Metro | Published December 14, 2023


METRO DETROIT — While toys and other physical gifts can be quickly forgotten, the sense of pride from learning a new skill is the gift that keeps on giving. So rather than adding to a loved one’s overwhelming stack of belongings, why not consider giving an experience?

Sports lessons and classes are a great way to keep a family member active and engaged in the new year.

Ice skating, skiing and snowboarding are the perfect ways to escape cabin fever and take advantage of the snowy winter weather.

The Birmingham Sports Ice Arena offers ice skating classes for ages 3 to adult of all levels year-round.

“A lot of kids get skates for the holidays, and they don’t know how to skate, so they come here and want to take skating lessons,” said Ice Arena Facilities Superintendent Connie Folk.

Gift givers can register a loved one for the next eight-week course, which begins the week of Jan. 15, or wait for additional ice skating lessons, which are offered in five sessions throughout the year. Ice skating classes meet once a week for eight weeks and are limited to 12 students. Classes with more than seven students will have two instructors.

“If you know how to skate, you will have a better experience when you go to birthday parties, open skates or even down to the city of Detroit to skate on the outdoor rink,” Folk said. “It just makes it a great gift, because it gives them the opportunity to come out, exercise and learn how to skate so they can skate with their friends.”

The Birmingham Ice Sports Arena is located at 2300 E. Lincoln. To register, visit

There are also many ski areas in southeast Michigan, including Alpine Valley, Mount Brighton, Mount Holly and Pine Knob. Pine Knob Ski Resort — 7778 Sashabaw Road in Clarkston — offers ski and snowboard rentals, with private or group lessons for all ages, led by certified instructors. Pine Knob has 17 runs, six chairlifts, four tow ropes, two wonder carpets and some terrain parks. Many intermediate and avid skiers hope a season ski pass will be under the tree, allowing them to ski or snowboard as many days as they want, all season.

Another fun gift-giving option that can be personalized to fit a variety of interests is a gift card to the Troy Community Center.

“People can use it however they want to,” said Troy Community Center Recreation Director Brian Goul. “A lot of people give gift cards that people like to use for our outdoor pool in the summertime or for a fitness pass during the year at the community center.”

The 127,000-square-foot building offers everything from year-round swim lessons, pickleball lessons and basketball leagues to karate, yoga and intro to sports classes.

“In the new year, people usually want to get physically fit and get in better shape, so giving them a gift card to come and get a fitness pass and work out or be able to learn pickleball is a great way for people to do something that they might not normally do for themselves,” Goul said.

A popular option is the “Pickleball 101: Intro for Beginners” class, which teaches participants the basic rules, strokes, scoring and strategies of the game.

The center also offers indoor swim lessons year-round for preschoolers to adults, with the next six-week session starting in January, followed by another in late March.

To expose kids to a variety of sports — including soccer, football, volleyball, T-ball, lacrosse, hockey and more — the Coach Dave Intro to Sports classes are offered for ages 3-6.

“Participating in sports is a great way for kids to meet other kids, get the social skills they need, learn how to be a good teammate and have fun,” he said.

For more information about the Troy Community Center, visit