There are some women who have a certain quality about them that feels ageless – and Dr. Megan and Sara VanderGoot are perfect examples of how positive energy and self-care can transform both your life and your body. This inspiring duo opened their flagship location of Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga over a decade ago, and have revolutionized the fitness community in Arlington and Alexandria ever since.
When Dr. Megan isn’t planning her series of obsessively good workout classes, you can find her binging Below Deck with her husband or playing a competitive game of Monopoly with her boys. Just like Dr. Megan, Sara is always on the go these days. From crafting fitness and wellness classes for mamas and mamas-to-be to acrylic painting and squeezing in some reading from her favorite female authors – these ladies are undoubtedly changing the wellness game!
How long have you lived in NOVA?
Dr. Megan: I first moved to Prince Street in Old Town back in 2002!
Sara: I’ve lived in Del Ray for 16 years! Longer than I have ever lived anywhere – even Grand Rapids, Michigan where I was raised.
Favorite item of clothing in your closet?
Dr. Megan: My black Ulla Johnson sundress. I wore it as much as possible this summer, even to casual meetings. I’m planning on wearing it to my kid’s hockey games too.
Sara: My favorite item in my closet is my Mind the Mat off-the-shoulder gray distressed sweatshirt because it is so comfortable, and I am all about comfort!
Dr. Megan: Right now? I never thought I’d say this, but the NFL and the NBA.
Sara: Books written by women authors, especially memoirs!
Dogs or cats?
Dr. Megan: I grew up a cat person, then I got my first dog, Sansa, a black lab, three years ago. You mean to tell me that they understand you and follow directions? I had no idea! So dogs! But I will always love cats. Once you’ve had that special kitty in your life you can’t turn your back to them.
Sara: Dogs! I love cats too, but I am head over heels for my mini chocolate labradoodle named Precious. I seriously feel like she is the daughter I never had. I have a 9-year-old son and she is like a sibling to him. They wrestle around on the floor.
What inspired you to open Mind the Mat?
Dr. Megan: The need to create a movement/fitness/wellness studio that catered to people of all ages and abilities by providing skilled and targeted exercise prescription. We really wanted to curate a place where everyone belonged, where groups of people could benefit from physical therapy, massage therapy, and other healing arts on top of yoga and Pilates instead of a traditional model.
Sara: Mind the Mat was a concept inspired by the vision of having a yoga and Pilates class for anyone at any stage of life and offering specialized classes with expert instruction. We wanted to create a space where amazing instructors can showcase their niche and what they do best! Many of our instructors are also PTs, Chiropractors, Nurses, Massage Therapists, Dancers, Nutritionists, Doula’s, and more!
What are three of your favorite programs currently at Mind the Mat?
Dr. Megan: Our outdoor program has three of my favorite classes: Pilates Boot Camp, HAWT HIIT (High-intensity interval training meets Pilates), and anything yoga! Those together or separate are well rounded physical activities.
Sara: Our prenatal and post-pregnancy specialty classes are the best! I love our Hawt Pilates program. No one makes Pilates as fun as we do! Our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training is known as one of the most quality in the Washington, D.C. metro area.
Favorite “buy” of all time?
Dr. Megan: Definitely our membership, you can’t beat the price for outdoor classes along with the live and pre-recorded content. But our specialized virtual series like Prenatal and Therapeutic are one-of-a-kind skilled programs. Those are hard to find these days.
Sara: Hands down, our deluxe monthly membership is an amazing deal! It’s $99 per month and includes so many different kinds of classes such as barre, yoga, Pilates, prenatal, post-pregnancy, HIIT, and more. Since COVID all our classes are LIVE virtually and outdoors. Our instructors are experienced experts in the field!
How can the community support you and your employees during this time?
Dr. Megan: Subscribe local! We understand there are so many movement themed streaming methods out there. Keeping it local supports your own neighborhood. Plus, our membership includes outdoor classes and virtual live classes with an interconnected Facebook community. So before joining a national brand of streaming, one that comes to mind rhymes with “celadon,” try local first. Have you ever noticed that independently owned small businesses have a high level of expertise? It’s because we are invested by the sheer passion for our profession, not for the passion to make money or to please shareholders.
Sara: Become a member! Help us by helping yourself stay healthy. Tell your friends. Times are super hard. Our goal is to be standing at the end of this challenging time. The support of our community is everything.
One act of kindness you’ve witnessed?
Dr. Megan: All of the “Thank You’s.” We were inundated with kindness in the form of emails, texts, DMs, and socially distanced in-person moments right when we shifted to digital back in March. At first, I didn’t understand why people were thanking us…we were so thankful for them to not pause or quit their memberships, that they trusted us to transition the quality to virtual. But now, after being a part of this magical (I can only describe it as such) virtual group of people from all over the world, I understand.
A favorite new hobby?
Dr. Megan: Eating an entire dark chocolate bar instead of a couple of squares!
Sara: Acrylic painting. I just started it up again last week after not doing it for years.
Top must-read books?
Dr. Megan: I normally don’t read, but since COVID, I’ve changed my habits…give me all the beach reads. I loved The Last Flight by Julie Clark. It was quick and easy. The Guest List was pretty good too. I don’t have time these days to worry whether I’m going to like something or not.
Sara: Know My Name, a memoir by Chanel Miller.
Dr. Megan: My husband just discovered my long-time love: Below Deck on Bravo. I am game to rewatch every season but the current Below Deck Med is packed with drama. Love it.
Sara: Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu.
What local business have you supported this week?
Favorite carry-out restaurant?
Sara: North Side Social (great coffee and pastries too!)
Favorite family pastime?
Dr. Megan: Playing Monopoly at the dinner table with our two boys. Back in the thick of quarantine, I was sent to jail an unprecedented three times in a row. We laughed so hard as a family we fell on the floor. In all of this sorrow and uncertainty, those are the much-needed times we will remember forever. We still talk about it.
Sara: Walking the trail behind Chinquapin Rec Center with my son Andrew and my dog Precious.
Go-to at-home workout?
Dr. Megan: I teach five days a week at Mind the Mat and follow the content of our skilled Pilates and yoga teachers. Mind the Mat does home workouts uniquely with live classes, you can also do them later to fit your schedule. It’s the best of both worlds. It’s unique that I’ve gotten to know people well before I’ve even met them in person.
Sara: Virtual Hawt Pilates on the Mind the Mat Facebook Page with Colleen Cronin!