Stylebook Businesses + Readers Unite for a Cause!

When you’ve lived, shopped, voted, worked, owned businesses, and volunteered for twenty years in one city, your roots grow pretty deep into its soil, and you can’t help but care as deeply about the well being of the city and, most importantly, its residents. That’s how I feel about Alexandria and so do all the Stylebook businesses who are uniting this month for an crucial cause.


Simply put, the cause is to make the lives of kids in Alexandria happier and healthier.



On Wednesday, October 17th the businesses listed below will be donating a generous portion of sales when customers mention RunningBrooke, a non-profit organization, founded in 2009, that works with the City of Alexandria Parks & Recreation Department, Alexandria City Schools, and local and regional nonprofit partners.



“Taking Steps Together” is RunningBrooke’s tagline, which is perfectly said because it’s by way of community connections that this organization has sparked tens of thousands of happier, healthier, and more learning-ready Alexandria students.

How? Through playground building, teacher grants to create active classrooms in Title 1 schools, bikes, outdoor play equipment, and scholarships for after-school running programs, yoga, and dance.

Readers, this is your opportunity to buy that item you’ve been eyeing or get some holiday shopping done while at the same time uniting with us for this crucial cause.

Elizabeth, owner of The Shoe Hive and The Hive told me, “I love it when local businesses work together to support an amazing local charity like RunningBrooke. To see what Brooke has accomplished and all she does for our community is so inspiring. One person can really make a difference and she has!”

Elizabeth is right, Brooke has made a difference, and we have, too, by coming together as a collective of business owners and customers to make the lives of kids in Alexandria healthier and happier. We all have a role to play in this and there truly is power in numbers.

For my business, Mind the Mat, supporting RunningBrooke is a perfect fit, because my business partner Megan Brown and I are professionals in the health and wellness field and it’s important for us to support the health and well being of as many Alexandrians as we can. As Megan puts it, “reaching out to our platform of clients and the awesome community of Del Ray to rally and support what really matters in life is incredibly rewarding and everyone is happier for it.”

Megan walks her talk. Last weekend, she held a Mini Mountain Pilates Retreat. All the proceeds went to the National Breast Center Foundation located in Alexandria, Virginia.

What strikes me about all the participating businesses is that people come to us to feel good, practice self-care, and leave our establishments feeling like they’ve empowered themselves, filled their own tank, and now have something to give back. I truly believe that part of being a business person is serving and acting as a pillar in the community.


Dr. Kim Kitchen of Old Town Smiles” supports RunningBrooke


By supporting RunningBrooke together, as business owners and customers, we can empower Alexandrians who may not otherwise have as much opportunity to feel happy, healthy, and vibrant. Together we can invest in the future we want to see here, which makes what we do everyday in our boutiques that much more meaningful.

Celeste, owner of Kiskadee, couldn’t agree more about investing in our community. She’s a mom and she knows that kids are the future. She told me, “I truly believe in the RunningBrooke mission. It’s important to make sure that all children are encouraged to be active and stay healthy.”

Celeste’s sentiment is right on. As Charlene Burgeson, Executive Director of Let’s Move! Active Schools, attests, it’s “[through] leadership provided by RunningBrooke, individuals and organizations representing many sectors of society are taking action to ensure that the children of Alexandria have opportunities to participate in physical activity in school and in the community.”

Even Alexandria neighbors have great things to say about RunningBrooke’s efforts. One of those neighbors, who lives near to the Hume Springs playground funded by RunningBrooke, says, “The playground is a game changer for our neighborhood. The area now feels safe; the rough things don’t happen there any more. In fact, we’re building a community garden across the street, as well as installing a Free Little Library. From all of us, thank you!”



In addition, a teacher at the ACPS Chance for Change Academy says, “I can’t tell you how excited I am. I used movement before their end-of-quarter final exam yesterday and they were all able to sit through the test and ponder extra credit. Thank you so much for your assistance for kids who need support and love until they can overcome the challenges they are facing. I am so proud of them right now and I can’t wait to see them using the desks and the wriggle cushions! Please, please, please convey my gratitude and that of my colleagues.”

Finally, a fifth grade boy at John Adams Elementary School has a message for us all. He says, “Thank you for helping us stay fit. It really helps our day. Everyday we use the dice and tool kits so we can get our brain to be active all day.”

That’s three “thank yous” in a row! Your support is needed and appreciated. Come visit participating businesses on Wednesday, October 17 and mention RunningBrooke for a generous portion of your purchase to be donated to this crucial cause. For Mind the Mat and Ascend Cycle online purchases, please email and/or to let us know you made your purchase in the name of RunningBrooke.



  • The latest from Sara
co-owner, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500 | Mind the Mat
Sara VanderGoot, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500, is Co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates and Yoga and Director of Mind the Mat Yoga Alliance certified teacher training program. Sara is an experienced Registered Yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance. She studied Interdisciplinary Yoga with Don and Amba Stapleton in Nosara, Costa Rica and at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Sara is Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. Sara has been practicing massage therapy, including specialties Prenatal Massage, Postpartum Massage, Deep Tissue Massage and Thai Yoga Massage, in Del Ray, Alexandria for over 15 years and a yoga instructor for 7 years. At Mind the Mat she specializes in Prenatal Yoga, Postpartum Core Yoga, Mommy and Me Core Yoga, Partners Yoga, and Hot Flow Yoga. Sara frequently acts as a birth companion for many of her clients, doing massage and yoga during labor and delivery to facilitate comfort during both medicated and unmedicated births. Before becoming a massage therapist and yoga instructor, she was a lawyer in the Washington D.C. area and found that the healing practices of massage and yoga brought a balance to her life that she had been searching for.

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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