I Drank the Pilates Kool-Aid

Dr. Megan Brown - Pilates

Usually around the new year I do a fitness update (read my last one from April 2018) and this year it went hand-in-hand with a post I was already thinking of writing about my current obsession — pilates. But not just any pilates.

To recap the last year in fitness — in 2018 I spent 3 months doing Solidcore. I really enjoyed the workout at Solidcore. The location was convenient for me. I felt challenged, overall I really enjoyed it, but it was lacking a cardio aspect that I also needed. Which is fine, not every workout will do everything and I still enjoy the workout. It is super pricey so it’s not something everyone can afford to do.

For part of 2018 I also had a membership to a local gym (which was really cheap at $33/month), and I had started going to Mind the Mat (MTM) in December of 2017 after several people told me I had to go there. I was mostly doing Solidcore and a weight-lifting program at the gym my husband wrote for me and spending time in the sauna because I LOVE SAUNAS. But once I started going to MTM (their unlimited membership is super affordable) I didn’t need to go to the gym anymore and cancelled my gym membership. I kept going to Solidcore for a little while.

At first I only did yoga at MTM but was convinced by several people to take the pilates classes there specifically with one of the owners, Dr. Megan Brown (pictured above). She teaches two types of classes — Hawt Pilates and Pilates Bootcamp. The concept of Hawt Pilates Megan founded herself. She has her doctorate in Physical Therapy so she understands the body on a level most workout instructors can’t even begin to claim to have expertise in. The woman really knows her shit and it’s obvious when you take her classes.

Because of her expertise, the classes she developed are based on science, which she even talks about in class. If she knows you have an injury or are pregnant and there’s a move you shouldn’t do, she’ll tell you something you should do. For the record she has no idea I’m writing this post.

So while I say I drank the Pilates Kool-Aid, I really drank the Dr. Megan Brown Kool-Aid. Not only do her classes just completely kick your ass in the best way, but she’s such an amazing person you just want to be around her. Seriously, forget TA (you know who I’m talking about) — Megan’s classes are better. Every movement, every placement, every angle of your body is important to her. She wants you to have the most effective workout for your time. I can vouch for this — it’s the best workout I’ve ever done, ever.

That’s not to say that other workouts aren’t great too. If you love what you are doing, do it! I still do yoga and go running every once in a while (in nice weather). I love hiking and biking too. Whatever you do, staying active is KEY. Megan works out every day and tells everyone in class that if they want to live a long healthy life, they need to do intense workouts too.

Her classes count as those intense workouts because you don’t stop. You might not think Pilates is intense, but these classes are more than Pilates and they are crazy intense. You can rest when you need to, and you will need to. Everyone needs to, including her. But I never leave her classes disappointed. I leave 100% sopping soaking wet and feeling like I just got the best workout of my life. I’m a devotee.

I also want to mention that people always think a reformer machine is better, but Megan will beg to differ with you on that. Which is why her workouts are mat-based and you can do them anywhere. You don’t need a bunch of props or weights. In her classes we sometimes use light weights and sometimes use ankle weights. But you don’t have to and you don’t need to. I bought my own ankle weights and bring them to class but I don’t always use them.

If you don’t live in the DC/NOVA area, Megan has online classes you can watch and do at home for less than $10/month. I do them when I’m out of town. She also posts some workouts on her Instagram and IGTV. However, I HIGHLY recommend coming to a few of her classes before doing the online classes if you can (meaning you live in the area) because it will just all make much more sense in person and make the online classes easier to understand and follow. Plus it’s all about the form, which is easier to get in person.

She also trains the other Hawt Pilates instructors you can always go to the other classes and get a great workout that she created.

I still love hot yoga, I still think doing other types of workouts here and there is fun. I even tried Orange Theory over the holidays. I used to go to Core Power Yoga and still love their HPF class. I loved Bikram yoga. I did CrossFit for a long time. I love playing tennis and hiking and bike rides. But I also love having a routine, and while 9:30 am isn’t my favorite time to workout because I feel like it just takes up my entire morning (I’d prefer 8 am), it’s when my favorite teachers teach, so that is usually when I go.

CURRENTLY

Currently I go to the four Pilates classes Megan teaches each week (she has additional classes for postpartum), and sometimes I’ll take the other Pilates classes at MTM, and I do yoga or rest on the other days. I typically get to 4-6 classes a week. When the weather isn’t awful I walk the dog a lot and sometimes run. This summer I want to take some intense tennis lessons and get back into tennis, ride my bike more often, and go hiking a lot.

I take yoga at MTM usually from Georgia who I also love and drank the Georgia Kool-Aid. Georgia teaches almost every day at both MTM locations (Del Ray and Clarendon). If you love a challenging yoga class with an instructor who actually assists all class, Georgia is your gal. She’s a no excuses kind of gal. You say you want to learn a pose, she makes it her mission to help you. She gets so excited when you progress. She’s hands-down one of the best yoga teaches I’ve ever had.

I like having a workout routine, having my classes that I love taking on my calendar, and I just plan around them. They are just as important to me as a business meeting.

MY BODY

I’ve been going to MTM for just over a year now, and my body is COMPLETELY different than it was before. I have never had this much tone. I did CrossFit for two years and while I enjoyed it and thought it was a good workout (I never did heavy weight, I did lighter weight and more reps), it made me feel bigger in a bulky way. I didn’t want to bulk up my muscles (some people love it and that’s great). I want long lean muscles. I love the effectiveness of the classes I’m taking now and seeing the results (and just how good I feel) keeps me motivated to keep going back.

If I ate super clean I’m sure I’d be able to see more tone but man it’s exhausting to eat that clean. I like wine, chocolate, and carbs way too much.

Honestly I was a little scared to try Orange Theory because of all the running. I don’t like running and I rarely go more than 2-3 miles, 4-5 miles at the most when I run with my husband. But because I’ve been so dedicated to working out over the past 3-4 years, I did way better than I thought I would. My endurance was higher than I thought and that felt great.

When I chose to make working out a major priority in my life about 4 years ago, it made a huge difference. Yes, it’s a lot of time. I workout at least 5 days a week if not more. While I think your diet has a huge part in your health and body, exercise is just as important. If you want to be able to move when you are 90 you need to move right now.

I want to ward off any illnesses I can by working out and eating healthy (and when I say healthy I just do my best, I’m very balanced and eat all sorts of good/bad things!). Rheumatoid arthritis runs heavy in my family, and with my grandma’s recent Alzheimer’s I’m trying to avoid that as well anything else that might try to take over my body or brain. In addition to trying to put off getting illnesses and diseases, I like to feel good and look good. I want to feel good in my own skin and feel healthy and active.

At this point there is no turning back. Exercise is just a part of my daily life. I wish I had committed to it in my 20s instead of my 30s. But no matter what age you are you can start working out now, and while I’m clearly singing Dr. Megan Brown’s praises and think it’s the absolute best thing you could do, moving at all is better than not moving. So find some type of exercise you can handle, and do it! Do it often! Maybe you’ll drink some Kool-Aid too.

What workouts are you obsessed with? Tell me in the comments!

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Photo of Dr. Megan Brown by Emma Weiss