I Don’t Have a 6-pack and I Don’t Want One

It’s a common misconception: “Wow. Man, you must have killer 6-pack abs!” It’s what most might expect in a PIlates teacher. But no, I don’t. And I don’t want them. Here’s why:



At Marymount University and in our teacher trainings, I start my Core Anatomy lecture with this photo. When people think of Pilates they think of this physique. My first question to the audience is always…”Does this person have a strong core?”

I love to explain biomechanics and talk about anatomy in my classes. I think it’s what sets Mind the Mat apart from many other programs. That “6-pack” everyone refers to is called the Rectus Abdominis. It is the outermost layer of the abdominal wall which has a total of 4 layers. Therefore very far from acting as a “core” muscle and can actually work to lessen the stability in your spine, which is the main function of your core. So essentially, the 6-pack is not your core.


Here are the true core muscles that work more efficiently to stabilize your spine and prevent injury: 

  1. Transversus Abdominis: The deepest layer of your abdominal wall. Pilates targets this muscle only if it is cued correctly by your instructor or only if you have mastered it’s recruitment. 
  2. The Pelvic Floor: We’ve talked about this controversial muscle group on stylebook before. It’s only controversial because we haven’t had much evidence on its function until now. It’s also controversial because it is often ignored by healthcare professionals…even OBGYN’s can miss dysfunction in this mysterious but vital muscle group.
  3. The Diaphragm: This primary breathing muscle partners with the pelvic floor due to the changes in pressure it produces in the trunk. In general, when we exhale or blow air out during breathing, the pelvic floor chases the diaphragm and activates…providing the core stability we need to function (and not leak urine during activities!)
  4. The Multifidus: Say what? This muscle group is the deepest in the spine. The multifidus has a keen sense of position within the joint. It has six times more of these position sensors than the outer back muscles. Therefore this muscle is great at stabilizing and responding to subtle movements and forces. The problem is, when we practice poor posture or have back pain, they tend to shut off. When all four of these core muscles work together, the multifidus works best!




Don’t like anatomy? Don’t worry. That’s our job. It’s up to us to cue these muscles correctly, and to ensure you’re performing the moves correctly, which is why it’s important to come to class instead of streaming or watching on of my IG videos (oh, but please follow me for tips and glimpses in that MtM life, @drmeganbrown).


Recently I changed the format and pricing of my classes at Mind the Mat. What can you expect in my newly named Master Classes?

  • • Smaller class size (8 – 10 people or fewer)
    • Next level instruction (it’s time)
    • Physical Therapy & health advice
    • Targeted and individualized skilled training to suit your particular needs
    • 20 years of physical therapy experience
    • 16 years of Pilates experience
    • Tons of bad jokes
    • Pretty good music


Click here to see my schedule and sign up (*see pricing structure below).

Many of you tell me, “I am intimidated to come to your class.” Don’t be. Much of that fear comes from worrying about keeping up with others, or people “looking at you.” I will be the only person looking at you, and I encourage people to work to fatigue, so you’ll see a lot of people dropping like flies all around you! Yes, you will work hard, but it will be based on science and target the particular imbalances in your body, unique to you. I would start with some Pilates experience, which is why MtM has so many amazing beginner offerings…our classes are designed for every level, so please reach out to us (info@mindthemat.com) if you have questions on where to start! I have listed some suggestions here:


  1. Come see me for HAWT Pilates free at lululemon Clarendon, this Sunday at 9:30am. No need to sign up. Bring a mat and your sense of adventure and get to the Clarendon store before 9:30 to claim your spot. Bring your buds! 
  2. Pilates Fundamentals: This Saturday in Clarendon with Amanda! This workshop will break down the mechanics of Pilates exercises to ensure you are tapping into your core.
  3. Membership at Mind the Mat includes Beginner Pilates, HAWT Pilates (Pilates mat on crack), and Pilates Boot Camp (Cardio + Pilates) and tons of yoga classes. Our membership is currently $109 a month but Stylebook Readers get 10 percent off today only! That’s over $100 in savings per year on quality instruction (we have a good time too). Use Code “ASreader” at checkout. Get our membership here  and see our full schedule here


Want to learn more? If you’re a movement professional–a coach, trainer, Pilates or yoga teacher–I’m offering my Core Lecture for Movement Pros on Saturday, January 25th, 2pm – 6pm at Mind the Mat in Del Ray. Find out more info here



*New pricing for Dr. Megan Brown Master Classes
You’ll find those classes under the new name “Master Class”.

Master Class Non-Member Pricing:
Single drop-in $25 | 5-Class Package $99 (3 month exp.) | 10-Class Package $198 (6 month exp.)

Member Pricing:
Single drop-in $10 | 5-Class Package $49 (3 month exp.) | 10-Class Package $98 (6 month exp.) 


  • The latest from Megan
Megan Brown, physical therapist, Pilates instructor, mother and co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga in Alexandria, VA, likes to goof around. Yet her commitment to her students and her skill set in the field is no joke. After graduating from University of Virginia with a degree in Sports Medicine, Megan went on to receive her Masters in Physical Therapy and eventually her Doctorate in the profession. Although Pilates was never part of the plan, the method changed the way she treated patients, positively re-directed her career path and enhanced her own active lifestyle. Customized Pilates instruction is her specialty–she designs classes based on clients needs: athletes, new moms, rehabilitation or just for fun (why be serious all the time?). Pilates + Yoga is the best of both worlds, hence the creation of Mind the Mat studios providing classes for all—in every walk of life.

Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.

Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.


2214 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


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