Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi
Co-Founder , Physique 57
Posted on: July 8, 2012 | Go to profile
Jennifer is Co-founder and CEO of Physique 57, an exercise studio with locations in New York and Los Angeles. She is also the owner of Jevo Media, Inc., which produces, distributes and sells the line of Physique 57 DVDs. When The Lotte Berk Method studio suddenly closed in 2005, Jennifer realized that she and legions of devout Lotte followers needed a new and improved exercise studio to practice their life enhancing passion. Her grand solution was Physique 57 -- a modern take on Lotte Berk's teachings combined with the application of world- class business management techniques. Prior to founding Physique 57, Jennifer was an Associate in the Private Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley. Jennifer graduated cum laude from Boston University and Beta Gamma Sigma from Columbia Business School. She, her husband and three young children live in New York City.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: In my twenties I became a devotee of the The Lotte Berk Method, an exercise studio that taught a rigorous, highly effective, dance based exercise method. The weight loss results were speedy, but a more important transformation occurred. I gained self-confidence and overall perseverance. I also witnessed other women miraculously transform physically and mentally at The Lotte Berk Method. Committed clients gained self-esteem and confidence, which led to success in many areas of our lives. I learned that women could derive power and tenacity from good health, strength and having pride in their bodies.
The Lotte Berk Method closed its doors abruptly in 2005, and I was intent on keeping its mission alive. At the time I was a banker at Morgan Stanley, and I chose to exit banking for the chance to team up with Tanya Becker, a star Lotte Berk instructor, to create Physique 57.
Q: If a business has several, viable ways to grow and innovate, how do you pick the best road to take?
A: When a team is focused on its mission statement and brand promise, creating and choosing viable ways to grow is rather clear. When there is a road to take that allows us to sculpt bodies and change lives effectively and efficiently, we all get on the bus and start moving.
Q: How much time do you spend on networking versus focusing on the internal affairs of your business (such as management, strategy, ideation etc)?
A: Of course the majority of my time is spent focusing directly on the business, but I place tremendous value on my professional networks. I am a member of several well-established professional groups, and I have also developed my own informal networks. I enjoy connecting with fellow entrepreneurs, business leaders and unique individuals that I can learn from personally and professionally. In the best cases, long-term friendships are formed.
ON Career Transitions
Q: I don’t feel like this topic is talked about enough in business news. Professionals get laid off, fired, resign or change careers all the time–which can obviously be a difficult transition at first. What was the hardest career transition in your life and how did you grow from it?
A: I suppose the hardest career transition was founding Physique 57 and becoming the CEO. I have grown in this position every single day for the last 6 years! I learned that to evolve you must aim high, be humble, communicate with an open mind, and challenge yourself every day.
Q: What do you feel separates your brand from your competitors?
A: We are passionate about the physical and mental results that exercise can offer. We welcome clients into an engaging and supportive community and promise rapid results delivered in a fun and safe class. We encourage clients to work harder than they think they can.
“If it’s comfortable, it’s not working!” This is a great quote from Tanya that our clients have embraced and are grateful for.
ON Starting Out
Q: If you had a young sister or a daughter who was a senior in college, anxious about landing her first job or unsure of what she wanted to do, what would your advice be to her?
A: It is hard to find the “perfect” job right out of college. So even if she didn’t have her dream job right away, I would remind her to show up on time, be respectful, deliver more than is expected, be reliable, dress for the job you want, and smile often. Make yourself indispensable.
ON Taking Risk
Q: How do you overcome feelings of insecurity, fear or discomfort when deciding to take a risk?
A: The only way I know how to overcome these feelings is to never invite them into my head. You don’t have to overcome something that you never had in the first place!
Q: In theory, one should prioritize their own health in order to be in the best state to take care of others (family, kids, work, etc.). But in reality, I’ve found that women often take care of themselves last. What are your thoughts on this?
A: I see this problem a lot. The first step to mental and physical well-being is admitting that you are the most important person in your life. Take care of yourself, and you will be the best caretaker.
I am married with three children (7, 3 and 3 months), and I need to be on my game physically and mentally. I am a better mother and wife when I stay loyal to my exercise program and a good healthy diet. When I commit each week to 3 exercise classes, a date night, several green juices and a fun phone call with a friend, I am a fun, focused, energetic and patient mom and wife.
Q: In your opinion, what are the top values that make up a meaningful relationship?
A: Honesty, empathy and admiration.
Q: How do you balance career and motherhood?
A: Everyone gets my attention, just not all at the same time.
Q: If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
A: We just wrote a book called The Physique 57 Solution: The Groundbreaking 2 Week Plan for a Lean and Beautiful Body. It is about the creation of Physique 57, the science behind the exercise method, and it offers 2 full workout programs and 50 health and delicious recipes.
ON Personal Finance
Q: What are your top 3 personal finance tips for women?
A: Understand how much comes in and how much goes out, create a long term savings plan and understand your worst-case scenario. In sum, knowledge is power.