The Sweaty, Snarky Joy of HAWT Pilates

I didn’t used to teach like this…all sweaty, snarky, and hot-mess-like with music blaring and people grunting and resting every five minutes.  In fact, the environment was quite the opposite: picture Enya-themed mindful mat sessions with a “therapeutic” and serene vibe.  But as fashion evolves, so do teaching styles I guess, and HAWT Pilates was born in 2014 in a hot studio near you.

Hot can mean a lot of things (these are from a thesaurus):



Passionately enthusiastic



Keen (Keen? We’ll take it!)

Currently popular, fashionable, or in demand

Having a degree of heat or high temperature (duh)

HAWT Pilates is all of the above, encompassing the latest research, the current moves, the best music, the fierce flow of exercises, the intense muscular work, the keen drive to achieve, the popular demand by Alexandrians, and, obviously, the hot, 95-degree, perfectly humidified room.

But what’s missing in this description is the levity of it all.  The laughter and the smiles throughout a HAWT Pilates class validate the overall message: exercise can be fun, in fact it has to be, in order for us to keep doing it (don’t we all kind of hate working out?).

What HAWT Pilates is all about from Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga on Vimeo.

View the levity of HAWT Pilates

Hence the funny-looking name HAWT.  Did you know that the term is an acronym from the 1940s?  Any idea what is means?  No, it’s not Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines, but good guess.

It’s Having A Wonderful Time.

THAT feeling is what makes this class like no other. And because of all the above, I finally got my act together and developed a truly hot HAWT Pilates teacher training program. We just completed our first training with 10 amazing Pilates enthusiasts and we are getting ready for our second training to be scheduled in the fall.

Here’s why HAWT Pilates teacher training is so cutting edge:

The How vs. The What

This is key to creating change in the body.  There’s a huge difference in instructors telling you “what to do” versus “how to do” a move.  “Lift your arm” is quite different from “reach your arm” and so forth.  An instructor who describes how to perform a movement better helps clients engage the correct muscles.

Tone & Tighten vs. Bulk

Traditional workouts target large muscle groups and, quite often, muscular fiber types that tend to hypertrophy (get bigger, that’s the “bulk”).  HAWT Pilates taps into the intrinsic muscles that stabilize joints while targeting the muscular fibers meant for endurance.  These endurance fibers are smaller in diameter and therefore give the muscle a “toned” look without bulking.  And yes, it’s true, WOMEN DO BULK. I used to be a gym rat back in the day and consistently “lifted” resulting in bigger and bulkier leg and arm muscles.  For some, that may be their goal and that’s great!  For me, now in this stage of my life, that is not my goal.  I am still strong, but my muscles are leaner and longer.

Precise Cueing

HAWT teacher training guides instructors on how to cue based on movement acquisition and tendencies, meaning cues are designed to stop the body from “cheating” or compensating.  Acquiring proper movement with optimal form is key to attaining results.  HAWT Pilates teachers acquire this unique skill based on 15 years of development.


We emphasize our signature sequencing tool (soon to be used in Physical Therapy Doctorate Programs) that helps instructors craft well balanced classes based on their new and improved knowledge of the body.  This differs from following a “recipe” of moves, like in a traditional Pilates mat class.  Traditional Pilates follows a specific sequence every time.  Don’t get me wrong, it has its place.  But our program is different, since not every person’s body fits into a box or a consistent ingredient list of moves.  Although HAWT Pilates is a group class, many people end up feeling like they just had an individualized private session based on their needs.


This word means so much and on so many levels.  The core muscles and joints will learn how to truly connect; the mind will learn how to connect with the body; and the instructor will learn to connect with the audience.  Isn’t that why you go to your favorite class?  It’s all about the instructor, right?  HAWT Pilates training encourages teachers to bond with clients before, during, and after class.  This bond validates, encourages, uplifts, and fosters the HAWT Pilates community and experience, which keeps them coming back for more.

If you want more, and you’re looking for a change (in your body, mind, career…anything), we are looking for HAWT Pilates candidates, including individuals and private studios interested in adding a new, hot program to their schedule (you don’t need a hot studio to succeed!).  Email me so we may connect on HAWT Pilates and have a wonderful time together.

You can learn more about our HAWT Pilates program here, but don’t just take our word for it. Read about Sheila’s courage in Why I Breathe, Elizabeth Todd’s take in #fitforlife, and how Pilates fits into

Victoria Levitan’s lifestyle. HAWT is Ashley Chamberlain’s fitness goal, it enhanced Laura Rose Schwartz’s yoga practice, and The Fit Crasher loved it.

 A HAWT Pilates crew happy after class

  • 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


1 Comment

  1. Avatar Nancy Lesch says:

    I miss MTM, all the instructors, all the HAWT, the camaraderie, the expertise, SO MUCH!! You are what lit my passion and sparked my joy for Pilates, and I will always thank you. And I need some of those MTM tights! : ) xoxoxoxoxo

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