Female powerhouse Maryam Fattahi Salaam delved deep in the world of law before she brought New York-based fitness studio Physique 57 to Dubai. Dubai-born Maryam set off to the United States in her teens to study law at Berkeley and become an attorney. Having always had an interest in sport, it was her time spent in New York that bought her to the internationally renowned fitness company, with a philosophy that encourages health, well-being and empowerment. As Maryam took part in her first class at New York’s edition of Physique 57, she knew it was life changing and something she had to introduce to her home city of Dubai. Moving back to the Emirates along with her husband and children in 2011, the attorney turned boss-lady embarked on her mission to launch Physique 57 in the UAE and hasn’t looked back since. Now with 2 branches of the fitness studio in Dubai, we met up with the “Mom-preneur” herself to chat about fitness, family, and more…
How did your journey with Physique 57 begin? What about it makes you so passionate?
The idea came from my genuine experiences as a new mom. Making a happy, healthy home for my loved ones became my priority and nothing came close to Physique 57. I credit the technique and classes with getting my mental and physical strength to their very best. Like most entrepreneurs, I saw there was a need that wasn’t being met in the Dubai fitness market, so I had to create what I was looking for.
What does a class entail?
Our full body workouts blend cardio, strength training, and stretches that are designed to burn fat and transform your entire your body. We offer a wide variety of classes for all fitness levels. Beginner level is a great place to start if you’re new to the barre. At the top of our 57-minute experience, you will have time with your trainer to discuss your personal fitness goals and needs. During class, clients learn the Physique 57 basics and how our unique formula combining strength training, cardio, and stretching rapidly transforms your body. Our newest format, Focused Interval Training (F.I.T.), targets and trims your arms and glutes.
Many people struggle with motivating themselves to stick to a fitness regime or even maintain their gym membership. What makes Physique 57 stand out?
After class, our trainers are available to advise on how to create the best Physique 57 experience for you. Our Signature level class is designed for those looking for quick results and a challenging workout that will meet you wherever you are on your fitness journey. Clients are basically provided opportunities to tailor our unique formula of strength training, cardio, and stretching with options and challenges that will rapidly transform your body.
Many women who work, and have young families sometimes find it challenging to find time for themselves to work out, whilst managing a career and their personal life. You’re a wife, a mother of 3, and you’re a businesswoman. What do you do to balance home and work?
Being a mom, businesswoman, and taking care of myself is a constant juggling act. To be honest, I don’t believe I will ever strike a perfect balance. I just try to devote my fair share of quality time to whatever it is I’m doing. My mom taught me that leading a busy, active lifestyle is the key to happiness. I am now a firm believer.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m usually up at 6 to catch up on the news and emails and enjoy a little me-time while everyone in the house is still asleep. Breakfast is the one meal my husband and our boys have together, and we cherish those bright and early 30 minutes. I’m out the door by 7:30am for school drop-offs and then work. Mornings are for meetings and a Physique 57 class. I’m a huge advocate of taking care of yourself so you can stay on top of your game.
Lunch is usually on the go then I return calls and cleaning up my inbox before I head out in the afternoon. Things get real around 4pm with the boys’ homework and activities. I’m lucky to have a job where I am satisfied on a personal level, yet enjoy the flexibility that allows me to play an active role in the day-to-day lives of my children. Flexible means I’m busy most of the time, and happiest. You never fully shut off from work as an entrepreneur.
Soon as the boys are asleep, my husband and I unwind with a home-cooked dinner and Netflix. I catch up on the day’s news and more emails before calling it a night. I can only fall asleep knowing I have a clean slate for the next day.
What advice can you give to women who are looking launch their own businesses?
1. 3 simple ingredients to start a business: know your product, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed
2. Quality over quantity always. Bringing great people onto your team is about showing that size really doesn’t matter – people do.
3. Laser focus is key. Eliminate distractions and don’t spread yourself too thin.
4. Failure leads to growth. Do not fear it.
5. There’s no finish line as no job is ever fully complete. When one challenge is dealt with, another rises, leading you to the next stage.
As a female entrepreneur in the region, and within the fitness industry, what challenges do you face and how do you overcome them?
Balancing quality and growth. Building scalability versus doing what you have to get the job done. Time and experience have taught me that depending where you are in your business’ life-cycle, the scale will tip one way or the other, but both are necessary at different times. I also obsess over details and have trained myself to obsess over the right details. Customer service, though, is one area where I’ve found obsessiveness to be acceptable.
It's empowering to be fit and healthy. What empowers you and how do you use your position to empower those around you?
The principle of excellence in everything with my name on it empowers me daily. As an entrepreneur, I feel it is my responsibility to impact people through what I do. And the best way to influence people is exhibiting excellence and providing exceptional service.
Who inspires you?
My sister, Negin (Fattahi-Dasmal), is the epitome of strength, courage, and beauty. She has, without a doubt, been my role model in business as well as life.
What 5 things can you not live without?
1. Contigo BPA-free steel water bottles
2. Physique 57 grippy socks
3. Ultracor leggings - life changing, think silky soft fabric with a nice sheen coupled with unbelievable compression
4. Starting the day with 16oz of pure celery juice - clearer skin, improved digestion, less bloating, sustained energy, and better mental clarity just to name a few benefits
5. Michelle Obama’s Becoming - didn’t think I could admire former First Lady Michelle Obama any more than I already did. An eloquent memoir that turned out to be as strikingly honest and inspiring as I had suspected.