Reap the Benefits

There’s just something about spring that makes you feel rejuvenated, right? Fresh air, sunshine, being able to walk around without having your face look like a White Walker from Game of Thrones - all of these equate to a spry reawakening. 

Don’t think that running, hiking, mountain biking or general outdoor activity is the only thing to do around Ellicottville. Think outside the box and try some yoga and / or barre, courtesy of Laura Solly and Melissa Whaley, respectively. Each offers a class that will require you to try something different … kind of goes in line with that springtime feeling, right? 

For Solly, teaching yoga was never originally the plan. Her father, an avid practicer of the exercise / lifestyle trend, got her into it. She started her training in 2008, and after over 200 hours of training over the course of a year, she became a certified instructor. 

“I started teaching Hatha yoga at Edelweiss (Lodge), and from there continued at the Ellicottville Memorial Library,” Solly said. “At first I had one class in the morning and afternoon, then added another ... it kept growing to a point where I decided to move it to the space in the back of Daff.” 

The Daff studio, which overlooks a courtyard (facing the 1887 Building) is fenced in and adds to the ambience. 

“It’s a really good spot. The studio is all contained within that space. There’s high ceilings, brick, mirrors … it’s a really great vibe.” 

Whaley’s route to teaching barre is a little different than Solly’s. Working in finance and an avid barre participant herself, she took classes while she was working in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and San Francisco. 

“When I moved back full time, I realized that there just weren’t that many barre studios around, so I decided to go get my certification to teach. I started teaching in Laura’s studio, then opened another one in Hamburg this April.” 

Whaley and Solly met during a Pilates class almost five years ago. They became fast friends with a mutual support for one another, and emphasize that the benefits of doing yoga / barre are off the charts.  Let’s break it down:



Hatha Yoga is the most widely practiced form of yoga in America. It is the branch of yoga which concentrates on physical health and mental well-being. Hatha yoga uses body postures, breathing techniques, and mediation with the goal of bringing about a sound, healthy body and a clear, peaceful mind. There are nearly 200 hatha yoga postures, with hundreds of variations, which work to make the spine supple and to promote circulation in all the organs, glands, and tissues. Hatha yoga postures also stretch and align the body, promoting balance and flexibility.  Says Solly, on yoga: “In my class you’ll experience relaxation, deep stretching, full body rejuvenation, physical, mental and emotional release.  Yoga calms the nervous system and helps you sleep better, reduces stress and is great for anxiety management.” 



A barre workout combines the use of a barre (a stationary handrail widely used in ballet training) and various props to maximize your results with a consistent focus on posture and form. With committed practice, barre work results in elongated, lean muscles.  It is easy on the joints and is a fun, efficient workout with a high calorie burn (400-600 per class!) 

Says Whaley, on what to expect in her barre class: “Class begins with a warm-up, arms, then a barre section intended to raise the heart rate and prepare the body for isolated muscle work. From here, the class is divided into short, powerful segments working the glutes and legs to fatigue, then stretching to lengthen. The class ends with ab work and final stretching. No dance experience is required.”

Listen, I’m a dude. I understand the … hesitation that most men feel about these two lifestyles and exercise routines. But if you’re a: skier, snowboarder, golfer, runner, swimmer, cyclist, outdoor enthusiast, basketball / football / hockey / soccer / baseball player, then chances are good that these classes will be good for you. 

“The biggest thing with ‘broga’ - as some call it - is that men are too afraid to be around women that are flexy, or put themselves in that situation,” Solly said. “But it’s great for athletes who are tight, because stretching keeps you loose and prevents injury.”

Max space in the studio is 14 people. Solly said one of the biggest draws is that with a centralized location (in town) it makes it much more accessible for people to get to. 

Solly offers yoga on Mondays / Wednesdays at 6pm and Thursdays / Saturdays at 8:30am.  She encourages you to call and book your spot, but walk-ins are welcome (space permitting). Yoga sessions run $15 each or $72 for a 6-punch pass (good for three months from time of purchase.)  Whaley offers barre Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm and Wednesday mornings at 6am.  Barre classes run $10 per class (or purchase a package of 10 classes for $90.)  Bare feet or sticky socks are best for barre … ToeSoxx are available for sale at Daff.

“Yoga and barre complement one another well, and a lot of barre students find benefits from yoga and vice versa,” Whaley said. 

For more information, head to and

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