Interviews

How Physique 57’s CEO Pampers Herself, Her Skin, and Her Body

Emily Orofino
Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi

Jose Marquez

In The Path, we spotlight different women making a difference in the beauty, fashion, wellness, and medical aesthetics industries. Here, they share their road to success.

When discussing how they stay in shape, nearly every supermodel on this green earth mentions barre class. They attribute their long, lean litheness to this fitness method — and so do millions of other women around the world. It’s doubtful that any of us would have discovered this workout at all without the foresight and entrepreneurship of Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi.

The CEO and co-founder of Physique 57® actually doesn’t have a background in fitness — rather, she comes from Wall Street. In the early 2000s, she was “completely addicted” to a one-of-a-kind barre class in Manhattan that was not only a challenging workout, but helped her persistent back issues. When the studio abruptly closed, Maanavi was inspired to not only start her own, but take the technique to the next level with her own team.

She decided to dive in and left her gig at Morgan Stanley, excited to bring her take on barre to women in New York City and around the world. “I have a favorite quote from Pablo Picasso: ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift,’” Maanavi shares. “When I thought about giving the gift of health and empowerment to women, I was 100 percent committed.”

Today, there are Physique 57 studios in New York, Los Angeles, Dubai, Bangkok, and Mumbai, which have inspired more and more barre companies to crop up. Maanavi has also developed on-demand fitness products for the company and co-authored a book on the technique, helping clients transform their bodies, become stronger, and exude confidence. Here, the entrepreneur, who is over 45, opens up on what it takes to launch a successful business, her skincare routine, and cosmetic injectables.

Spotlyte: What is your advice to anyone who wants to start a business?

Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi: There are a few important things I think all entrepreneurs have to do in order to launch a successful business:

  1. Build a solid business plan.  The first step I took was to create a business model to verify that the endeavor, executed well, would be profitable. That armed me with confidence and a sense of urgency. I am also someone who is comfortable with assumptions. I can take a step forward with some, but not all, of the information. Your first business plan won’t be 100 percent correct, but get it just right enough to know if your idea will make money.
  1.  Jump in with both feet! I don’t believe that people should have two jobs at once if they are really serious about starting a business. To properly launch Physique 57, I took the plunge. You really cannot give it enough attention if you don’t laser focus. I started conceptualizing the business in the beginning of August and we launched a few months later in November. That’s it.
  1.  Remove your Plan B. When you don’t have a plan B, you will force yourself to work extra hard to keep at it and launch your dream business.  Let’s say early on you encounter a ton of obstacles, you have to work day and night to attack each one. If you have a good Plan B to fall back on, you just may give up too early to solve the myriad challenges that entrepreneurs need to conquer.
  1.  Invest in yourself. Spend more money potentially on a nanny, on having food delivered, on Uber so you can get things done, quickly. Those are investments in yourself. Pay to free up your time, the ROI will be very high.  
  1.  Put yourself in the mind of the client every single day. I consider myself a client who’s running a business for other clients. I’m just as much a client as anyone else.

Spotlyte: What are the perks and challenges of being your own boss?  

JVM: The perks are flexibility and the ability to hand pick the people I work and collaborate with every day. The challenges are a very busy schedule that requires a laser focus on time management. This can be draining at times.

Spotlyte: You’re a brand founder, CEO, and busy mom. When you have limited time for pampering and self-care, what do you do to treat yourself?  

JVM: I really love to read. Sometimes, after dropping off my first grader at school in the morning, I will spend an hour or so reading in a nearby café. I find reading incredibly relaxing and intellectually nourishing.

Spotlyte: What does your own workout schedule look like?

JVM: Three or four Physique 57 classes a week and yoga once or twice a month.

Spotlyte: What is your skincare philosophy?

JVM: I believe beautiful skin needs to come from a combination of happiness to find your inner glow, healthy eating to nourish your body, and select anti-aging skin care products.

Spotlyte: What is your skin type? What do you use on it?

JVM: Combination skin. I use Cosmetic Skin Solution® Vitamin C + E serum, FRÉ Defense Facial Moisturizer and every evening, I use Estée Lauder™ Advanced Night Repair.

Spotlyte: What do you eat or avoid for your best skin and why?

JVM: I try hard to keep alcohol to a minimum because it turns my skin red — not good! I can tell the difference when my diet has omega 3s and greens, so I aim to have a few green juices a week along with regular servings of salmon and avocado.

Spotlyte: Are there any beauty products you particularly swear by using after a workout? If so, what are they?

JVM: Caudalie Eau De Beauté Beauty Elixir gives a nice refreshing boost to my skin après workout. 

Spotlyte: Have you tried cosmetic injectables?

JVM: I get injectable filler around my laugh lines from Dr. Elizabeth Hale in NYC. I’m very happy with the results.

[Editor’s note: Injectable filler is a temporary treatment designed to add lost volume to certain areas of the face, including deep lines around the mouth. Like any medical treatment, filler has possible risks and side effects, so talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you.]

Spotlyte: Are there any other medical aesthetics treatments you’ve tried (laser, etc.)?

JVM: I tried PicoSure a few times and noticed a positive result.

[Editor’s note: PicoSure is a laser treatment which removes tattoos, acne scars, as well as wrinkles.]

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