The ten minutes before class are often my favorite in the studio. We share highlights of our days, funny stories, I love having to occasionally yell to quiet everyone down to teach. Some of you know me better than others, from retreats, from Barretending, from shared idiosyncrasies.... but many of you know me only as the owner of The Barre Studio. So I sat myself down for an informal interview that I didn’t even have to get dressed up for.
I hope you enjoy, Melissa
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born & raised in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles. My parents & identical twin sister Shannon still live there, and our older brother Chris lives on Oahu, Hawaii. I have six nieces & a nephew who are all so different & incredible. Not bad places to visit family, and I do as often as I can. I’ve lived all over & am grateful for it, LA, Orange County, NYC, San Francisco & Dallas. I found Ellicottville in 2008 and bought what was then a vacation home, but became my hideout from a stressful job & busy life. I made it home in 2014 & for the first time in my life, my eyes are not looking five years out. I love my home, my view, my privacy, and my friends, now family, here in WNY.
What originally brought you to the studio & what made you want to teach?
Prior to the studio, I had a 16 year career in finance, mostly on Wall Street working with hedge funds. I loved it. I loved NYC & the hectic pace of my job. But in my late 30’s, I found myself visiting Ellicottville monthly (quick red eye weekends to do it) and couldn’t envision another 20 years in my field. I’ve always worked out. Barre was at that time my mental break, workout preference & start to at least 3 days a week, so I decided to move to WNY, get certified, see if I enjoyed teaching, go from there. My sister Shannon owns a Pilates studio & was invaluable to me both as a role model & mentor. My friend Laura Solly allowed me to mount barres in her Ellicottville yoga studio & find my voice. The rest is history. I opened The Barre Studio, Hamburg on April 1st, 2015.
Most rewarding part of the job?
Ahh, there are many. When I opened the studio, I wanted to create my own flexibility (which I now finally have... the first couple years of a new business are no joke!) I wanted my own health & fitness to be a big priority (part of why we teachers work out with you) & I really wanted to create a personal, warm space, for clients, but so much also for me. I draw on that DAILY. I always leave the studio feeling better than when I came in, physically & emotionally. I love & am proud of our unique, boutique community. I love that so many of you share highs & lows with me, in person, over text, over email, and knowing who could use a hug that day. I’ve definitely leaned on some of your shoulders in return. My body feels the best & most consistent it has ever. And my teachers... Wow, I never could have imagined how much we would all truly enjoy & admire one another.
What do you do in your free time?
I am largely a home body. I require quite a bit of downtime to recharge & reset. While I do consider myself a successful people person, it’s not my natural state & is balanced with a lot of time alone. I am a reader, about a book a week. I love getting caught up in a show & Netflix binging (Shameless, anyone??) I’m currently enjoying checking out other studios & it feels so good to be taught. My girlfriends play a huge role in my life & I love to travel... I tease my Dad because he’s always planning trips a year in advance, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It is even more rewarding now that I look forward to being away, but also to coming home & back to the studio. A perfect night is dinner in, wine & a board game with friends or family. I even recently joined a bridge club in Hamburg & when I’m lucky enough to get the invite, I spend 5 hours playing cards with seven 80 year old women who just hands down make my day.