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Entrepreneurship News

May 10, 2013

Alumni Profile: Jennifer Maanavi '00, Physique 57

Alumni Profile: Jennifer Maanavi '00, Physique 57

Jennifer Maanavi ‘00 has been involved in dance from early childhood, having performed many different genres throughout college. As skilled at the barre as she is in business, Jennifer left Morgan Stanley in 2005 to combine her passion for dance with her prowess for running a world-class business. Armed with a strong Wall Street finance background and an MBA from Columbia Business School with high honors, she launched Physique 57 in 2006. Read on as she shares her thoughts on the changing focus of the fitness industry and how her internationally renowned fitness company, Physique 57, fits in.

Tell us about Physique 57.
Physique 57 is an internationally renowned fitness company committed to sculpting bodies and changing lives with challenging, invigorating and empowering barre-based workouts.  We do one thing: bar exercise and practice continuous exercise innovation while employing world class business management concepts. Physique 57 has five upscale US studios - three in Manhattan, one in the Hamptons and one in Beverly Hills – and one launching in Dubai this summer (2013). 
Our studio offerings are complemented by fitness retail boutiques, award-winning DVDs, online streaming workouts, and a highly regarded book, “The Physique 57 Solution”.  The company’s mission is to empower women (and men who dare!) to transform physically and mentally into the best version of themselves. 

What has been your biggest “A-Ha!” moment to date and how did it change your business?
I am a voracious consumer of management books. Running one successful studio required a good product and lots of hard work. Once we opened our flagship studio on Spring Street it quickly became apparent that we needed more and better coordination, communication and trust across a fast growing management team. One of the books I read was “Now Discover Your Strengths” by Mark Cunningham. The book’s premise is to focus on individual strengths, not weaknesses. We test all managers and as a team study their strongest capabilities and personal traits.  The final step is to post these strengths for everyone else to see and to communicate based on each other’s strengths. 

Where do you see your company in 5 years; how do you see the fitness industry changing in the future for your target audience? 

I envision Physique 57 in major international cities, along with NYC and Los Angeles.  Our mission is to bring our unique and impactful client experience to women across the globe. The demand for health and fitness is growing much faster than the general world economy.  Clients expect more from the fitness brands and when they get it, they are loyal.  The best companies will focus on delivering outstanding and memorable client experiences rather than just new products and services. I anticipate meeting these needs through traditional bricks and mortar growth and hopefully enhanced digital delivery mediums.

What advice would you give to a graduating student with entrepreneurial aspirations?
Being an entrepreneur is a state of mind. It requires focus and uncompromising commitment. Your company’s success should be your Plan A, B & C!  It is very hard to make a new business work. If you have other opportunities in the back of your mind, you may not be able to marshal the resolve to work through the inevitable challenges that at any time could portend doom.


Innovation and Entrepreneurship @ Columbia provides a platform to develop new ideas by leveraging the cross-functional capabilities and knowledge of the University at large.



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