Giving up would have been easier. Closing our doors forever would have been a relief. In fact, saying goodbye to MtM could have opened up other opportunities. Just the other day, an old friend texted me to say I’d make an excellent Peloton instructor (I said thank you). Yes, it would have all worked out. Several times throughout this year, Sara and I discussed closing. Our lease was up this past February, and we could have walked away from our 13-year ride.
But we couldn’t do it. We couldn’t give up on the community and the future. So, we fought, physically, mentally, and tactically. We fought hard to survive. This year taught me more about leadership and business operations than any insight a business book, podcast, or degree could have provided. Although we hemorrhaged money this whole year (yeah, we basically bled out), three key business decisions and moves kept us alive:
We Digitized Community: We wanted to give our members confidence in us immediately. So, on March 15th, we shifted to Facebook Live. Initially, we thought this would be a temporary in-person shut down – Facebook was the easiest and fastest solution. This quick fix ended up being the big fix since it created a digital community where people encourage each other, in real-time, while working out, downward dogging, and even meditating. We have tried all of the best platforms out there, but we keep coming back to this Facebook community. Check out our website for more information. (https://www.mindthemat.com/)
We Diversified: As soon as it was safe enough to offer in-person, we moved several programs outside, thanks to the support of the City of Alexandria. It had never felt so good to be outside, surrounded by grass and trees, among our friends, seeing each other from afar. We were also able to maintain in-person indoors with limited capacity and offer our robust variety of classes live and saved in our new online library. We have literally thousands of classes saved. Outdoors, Mini-Inside & Online…That’s our programming motto!
We Focused on the Good: Bad, bad things happened this year. I personally have several good friends and clients who lost either one or both of their parents to Covid-19. Several good friends lost their siblings suddenly. On the business side, Sara and I consistently dismantled huge programs we’d built over a decade. Chopped them up in mere hours. But we tried to focus on our people, how we could continue to support and serve them, and how we could use MtM as a springboard for more profound work (more on that later).
But above all, I need to be clear: We would NOT be here if it weren’t for Alexandria. This community, including the financial assistance from the city and big friends like lululemon and Arlington County, supported us this whole year. We want to thank you! We needed you more than ever and you came through – for that we will never forget you. And so, we move forward…
Here is the Future of Mind the Mat: We ended up re-signing our lease in Del Ray, so we are here to stay! As numbers shift and the weather improves, you will see some changes. We communicate these changes via weekly emails and targeted outreach. We commit to:
Virtual Programming Forever: Live and pre-recorded. We are also excited to offer an even better live experience when we are fully in-person. All MtM Live classes are listed on our schedule.
More Outdoor Experiences: With better weather, you’ll find more outdoor options at Del Ray and Chinquapin Park. Workshops coming up include Self Defense with Olivia Sheldon, Pilates Fundamentals with Amanda, and Yoga for Runners with Caroline. See MtM Workshops here.
Small In-Person Masked Classes: We will keep adding socially distanced in-person masked classes with windows open, air purifiers running, HVAC blasting, and safety precautions outlined by Governor Northam. We ask that you follow your part in disclosing any CDC listed risky behaviors so that we can all stay safe. See our current yoga, Pilates, and barre schedule here.
It’s been a year since I sat down, stressed and scared, to write Keep the Ship in the Channel. When I read this last paragraph, I think about how far we’ve sailed, how much we’ve grown together, and how I could not have made it through this year without this sense of purpose. Thank you.
If you are struggling, take this minute by minute, hour by hour. Whatever you are navigating, don’t get too close to the shoreline. Just be present, show up, and keep your hands on the wheel. Allow yourself time to feel bad. Find time to cry. It’s ok to cry and break down. But keep your hands on the wheel. Stay the course. Keep the ship in the channel and you’ll make it to your destination safely.
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.