Just looking at Maryam Fattahi Salaam’s svelte limbs will have you reaching for your leggings and signing up for the fitness phenomenon that is Physique 57. The petite mother of two ( Maryam’s sons are aged 4 and 7) has changed the UAE’s fitness landscape by introducing the New York barre class, Physique 57, to Dubai. Mixing cardio, strength and stretch into one killer 57 minute class, Physique 57 became something of an addiction for the 32 year old during her time working as a corporate lawyer in New York and she knew she needed to bring the program to Dubai. Needless to say P57 has been embraced by the region since opening its first location in Dubai’s City Walk in 2013. So much so that now due to popular demand the studio has just opened a huge second location at Al Thanya Street Mall. Sand & Smoke got up close and personal with the Iranian beauty who reveals her secrets to balancing a healthy life, that flawless skin and her penchant for Chanel trainers, all while preparing to launch her new Physique 57 location.

Top, Alala at HAUTLETIC. Watch, Maryam’s own.


I was living in New York City at the time, hearing and reading so much about it – I knew I had to give it a shot. I felt my arms and abs strengthen after my third class, and every single class had me leaving with a positive outlook on life. Physique 57 changed my body and it changed my life…

After moving back to Dubai from New York City in the summer of 2010, I was left with no choice but to make my own addiction available to hundreds and thousands of other women (and men) here in the UAE. Our Dubai studio has been an immediate success among the UAE community. I can safely say Dubai can’t get enough Physique 57. In a city with a rapidly developing fitness landscape, Physique 57 will always offer Dubai a truly unique workout with amazing results. Nevertheless, I continue to be surprised by how Physique 57 has been embraced by the local market and our clients. So much so we opened our new location nestled in the heart of Umm Suqeim in Al Thanya Mall. We’ve gone back to our New York roots with exposed ceilings and a loft design and feel. As a growing city with countless pockets of residential and commercial communities, Dubai is more than ready for a second Physique 57 studio on the other side of town. My strategy has always been to grow organically and while we are focused on our two Dubai locations at this time, I am excited for Physique 57’s future in the Middle East region but in the meantime there will be plenty of pulsing and squeezing!

Jacket and leggings both  Michi; Sports bra,  all at HAUTLETIC. Trainers, ISABEL MARANT.


Health and fitness have always played big roles in my life, though I wouldn’t call myself a fitness fanatic…

Growing up in Dubai and throughout high school, I was a cross-country runner and played tennis on a competitive level. My health became much more of a priority after the birth of my first son, and working out became my therapeutic ‘me-time.’ Even when working out is the last thing you want or are able to do, think of how great you will feel afterwards. There are days I get so busy and working out easily slides to the bottom of my to-do list. I try and remind myself of how good I’ll feel once I’m at that barre and how much energy it will give me to carry on with my day at work and then my family. You will never regret a good workout. When we travel, I love to walk, walk and walk.

Top, Alala at HAUTLETIC, Leggings, Maryam’s own. Trainers, CHANEL


Being a mom and running a company doesn’t leave me with a lot of down time, so I try to take care of myself in those little windows. I truly believe that in order to be the best caretaker, you have to take amazing care of yourself first…

That means eating in a way that makes you feel your best, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, and always being grateful. It was just before becoming a mother that I grew more conscious of what I ate. I’ve since learned more about the industrialization of food and how that is affecting our health. We don’t buy packaged food and just try to eat real, whole foods. So for me it’s all about a little bit of everything, not a lot of anything. My diet is clean, consisting largely of lean protein, fruits and vegetables. Having said that, moderation is key and I believe life is just too short to deprive yourself. I have a major sweet tooth so as long as I eat balanced meals throughout the day, I’m good to indulge in one (or two) sweet treats.

Typically, I start every morning with green juice made of six fruits/vegetables – apple, kiwi, cucumber, bitter gourd, kale and lemon. Truth be told, I don’t always have time to eat breakfast but I’m making a point these days to try harder to and when I do, it is a slice of multigrain toast with almond butter and Manuka honey. Otherwise, I have a stash of KIND bars waiting for me in my office. I have an iced soy latte mid-morning. I would love to get this at RAW but settle for Starbucks at Citywalk. For lunch, I usually go for salad with a lean protein. These days, I find myself at another New York-transplant, Just Salad. I try to go for something new and different every single time, but somehow always end up with my trusted California salad. In the afternoon, I have a bottle of my favorite coconut water, Pearl Royal, with cheese, crackers and a handful of home made trail mix – Iranian pistachios, raw almonds and dried apricots. Dinner is the one meal my husband and I can actually sit together at and catch up, and inevitably it is the biggest meal of the day. I make a mean oven-baked, orange ginger glazed salmon and serve it with a side of sautéed spinach and quinoa tabbouleh. I end my day with camomile tea and some Sprüngli dark chocolate.



I would describe my personal style as timeless chic with an edge…

I love J Crew and Maje for their functional, modern takes on everyday basics and Tibi and Vince for their clean lines and simple palettes. I have also stayed true to J Brand and Rag & Bone denim since college. For more feminine pieces I like Victoria Beckham and Self Portrait for their gorgeous dresses and Stella McCartney for her timeless separates. When it comes to footwear I love Gianvito Rossi for his unmatched craftsmanship and Repettos are my everyday go-to ballerinas and never, ever enough Chanel sneakers – for all the obvious reasons.

To workout in I am currently obsessed with Alala‘s functional pieces that can take me from a workout to a meeting and then running errands and I also love Michi‘s more edgy activewear. I discovered lululemon when I took my first Physique 57 class so the brand and its comfortable, flattering apparel hold a very special place…



Inner strength and happiness equate beauty. To look good, you have to feel good…

My mom taught me that leading an active lifestyle is the key to happiness and real beauty.  I try and keep things clean and simple – cleanse, moisturize, protect with SPF and drink lots of water. My favorite beauty products include Blistex Lip Medex, I stock up on these when I’m in the States and there’s simply no other balm like it. Trish McEvoy‘s Beauty Balm takes care of everything by priming, moisturizing and protecting with SPF. I add Tarte‘s Cheek Stain in Blissful to give a perfectly natural flushed look and finish with Diorshow Art Pen which gives me a fool-proof perfect cat eye every time and then I finish with Benefit‘s Mascara.

For my skin, Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 is my ‘magic water’, I only wish I had discovered this sooner and Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser I’ve been using this since high-school and it still works, that says a lot.
Dr Sebagh’s Serum Repair and  Pure Vitamin C Powder cream are a must – I’ll share my secret serum right here on the Sand & Smoke. Mix these two for a skin-repairing booster. I also invested in SK-II Facial Lift Emulsionthis anti-aging lotion when I turned 30 and I haven’t stopped using it since.

My Dubai beauty hotspots include taking a Turkish hammam at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray’s Talise Ottoman Spa. for nails I head to N.Bar and for the best blowout I go to JetSet.



Meditation. I’m intrigued by the inner peace that comes with it, and I try to quiet my mind for ten minutes every morning and evening.

Physique 57. Both as CEO and as a client when I take class, the passion to work hard for something I love is special.

Gratitude. Always appreciate every little thing you have and the precious time spent with family and friends.

Eight hours of sleep. That’s if I’m lucky, it is usually closer to seven.

Sneakers, sneakers and more sneakers.

Top, Physique 57. Skorts, Michi at HAUTLETIC

Photography by Juliet Dunne Shot at Physique 57’s new location prior to it’s opening.

Tags: , , , , , , ,