How We Created The Most Innovate, Effective, and Fun Fitness Method

Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi and Tanya Becker, the creators of Physique 57, standing in front of a Physique 57 banner.

We’re Tanya and Jennifer, the creators of Physique 57. For the last 15 years, we’ve poured our hearts and souls into bringing you the most effective, fun, and supportive fitness program and community. It’s been a wild, incredible, unexpected journey! Today we’d like to share our story, and tell you more about how Physique 57 became what it is today. 

Before we created Physique 57, we were two women just like you who were doing our best to stay fit and active with our busy schedules. We were both dancers growing up — Jennifer was part of a dance company during high school, and Tanya studied dance throughout her school years and later in New York City. But in our 20s, we both picked up some unhealthy habits while living in NYC, and we weren’t feeling like our healthiest, most confident selves. 

We tried everything to find a workout we loved — joined gyms, took step aerobics and spin classes, and tried Pilates. Jennifer even tried running with weights strapped to her ankles (never again!). But everything felt like a chore, so nothing stuck. 

That is until we discovered The Lotte Berk Method®, a dance-inspired fitness technique created by Lotte Berk, a German dancer looking to stay fit after a back injury. Jennifer overheard someone talking about the class at a party, and Tanya responded to a Village Voice ad looking for dancers to teach at their Upper East Side and Hamptons studios. We both vividly remember walking into the pink-carpeted studio on 67th Street for the first time. It changed our lives! 

Jennifer knew within the first 10 minutes of taking a class that this was a workout she’d do for the rest of her life (spoiler alert: she has!). She immediately loved that the method reminded her of dance and that the exercises were made for a woman’s body. At the time, most of the popular workouts (think: step aerobics and strength training at the gym) were hard on the body, repetitive, and not exciting. Jennifer loved that The Lotte Berk Method® felt graceful and healthy, while still being strenuous. 

And it was strenuous! When Tanya went to her first audition, she was shocked to discover that women twice her age were stronger, more flexible, and had more stamina. She thought, “I can’t do any of this. I’ll never get the job!” But they assured her that she would learn and get stronger — and she did!

Both of us experienced transformative results with The Method! We felt leaner, fitter, and healthier than we had in our entire lives. We were hooked! Fast forward to 2005, when Tanya was a Master Instructor and Jennifer was a longstanding Berk devotee, and we were devastated to learn that the studio was closing. 

We both felt that we not only wanted to keep this method alive, we wanted to build on it and make it accessible for even more people. Seeing our own results and how much joy it brought us, we thought, “Why can’t everyone experience this?!”

At the time, Jennifer had earned her M.B.A and was intrigued by the entrepreneurial possibilities. She even tried to buy the fitness studio herself, but when she didn’t have any luck, a staff member suggested the two of us meet. And that’s truly when the magic happened!

From the moment we met, we knew we had something special. We both shared a vision of taking everything we loved about The Lotte Berk Method® and bringing it to the next level. Together, we set out to create the next incarnation of the fitness technique and bring it to a wider audience. Tanya refined and updated the method to make it even more rigorous and effective by adding a larger variety of exercises, along with more strength and stamina-building variations. We added other modern touches, set the moves to upbeat music, and streamlined the workout to take just 57 minutes. And voilà — Physique 57 was born!

At the time, we didn’t realize that Physique 57 was pioneering boutique group fitness, but it was! We were one of the first studios to do monthly memberships, a pay-by-class model, and offer the same class several times per day. It was all new, which made it challenging, exhilarating, and fun!

We poured our hearts and minds (and a LOT of sweat!), into building the business. One of the most challenging (and exciting) aspects was finding the perfect instructors and training them in this completely new method. At the beginning, we held auditions and 0 people showed up! When we did find trainers, they wanted to quit every day because the workout method was so rigorous. But ultimately, we found the exact right people to bring this method to life. That’s what’s so special about Physique 57 — the technique itself is amazing, but it’s really the human experience that comes through the teachers that makes it magic! 

That’s why we believe Physique 57 grew the way it did. Within a few months of opening the studio, clients were pouring in! We’ll never forget a day that first year when our studio manager turned to us and said, “We need a waitlist for our waitlist.” We pulled out a yellow piece of notebook paper and made it happen!

A lot has changed since those early days. The fitness industry itself has evolved, we innovated the method by adding 5+ new formats, we opened studios worldwide (including Bangkok, India, and Dubai), we started Barre Academy to get more people certified in our method, and we created a booming online workout platform where people can take classes virtually from all over the world. 

Still, the heart of Physique 57 remains the same. We are, and always will be, about tapping into the unlimited potential in the lives of those we touch. We are still deeply committed to precision and safety in our fitness method — we’ve had a 0% injury rate since we started! 

We remain a workout that you can do for your entire life. Jennifer has done this workout for 20+ years without injuries, and still feels sore and challenged every time. In all her years teaching this method, Tanya has never taught the same workout class twice, so no one will ever get bored. We have clients who started with us in 2006 who we still see every single week, and they look incredible!

Through everything, we remain deeply committed to growing and getting even better for YOU! We recognize that the fitness industry is always evolving and that your needs change, too. So we wake up every morning as if Physique 57 is brand new and ask ourselves this question: What can we do NOW to make your life even healthier and happier? And then we make it happen!

We’d love for you to feel the heart and passion of Physique 57 in one of our challenging, effective, and fun workout classes! Join us for a workout class On Demand or in our New York City studio. We’ll be looking out for you!