The fitness and wellness industries have been shaped and led by like-minded women for quite some time. As women were known to hold front-of-house roles in these specific industries, they’ve made their mark and are now holding managerial, director, and CEO roles throughout companies.
A woman that has made a major mark in the fitness and wellness industries is Jenny Liu. Liu is the CEO of DOGPOUND, a creme de la creme fitness facility owned and founded by prominent trainer Kirk Myers, where you’ll spot Adriana Lima, Euphoria cast members, artists, tastemakers, and others. Liu is a first-generation Chinese woman raised in Manhattan’s Chinatown sector, who immigrated to the States with her family from Guangdong, China. She is a mother of two who now resides in Queens, New York.
I had the pleasure of having a fireside chat with Liu on her journey as a Chinese American woman in New York City and as a CEO making major moves in the fitness and wellness industries.
What inspired your family to come to the States?
My parents grew up in the cultural revolution, which was still going on during their adulthood. They always wanted educational opportunities for us and they knew that if we came to the States, we’d have a lot more freedom to learn, grow, expand our knowledge, and not be held back. My parents were in their mid-30s, my sister was four and I was two. They sold everything they had which sadly was only a couple hundred dollars. The four of us moved into a studio apartment in Chinatown.
Why did your family choose Chinatown in Manhattan?
My aunt came to New York 20 years before us coming and she was brought to America by my uncle who was a World War II veteran for the United States. He met my aunt in Hong Kong, fell in love, and then he brought her back to America. My aunt always wanted to bring her family to the U.S., but it took 10 to 15 years for us to receive approval to come to the States. With this said, my parents wanted to stay in Chinatown because they had to assimilate into the U.S. My parents also had to stay in Chinatown because they didn’t speak the English language and this was the only place that they could get a job at.
How did you delve into the fitness industry?
I wasn’t always into fitness, but I always admired people who took part in team sports or had the drive to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Personally, it was always a challenge for me, however, there was a time in my life when I felt I had to make a couple of changes. The jobs I had in the past consisted of late-night hours and late-night snacks, which didn’t help me at all towards feeling my best. I was getting ready for my sister’s wedding and I felt I was at a pivotal point to find the motivation, which is what led me to fitness.
What is fitness to you?
For me, fitness is about having the mentality of wanting to improve and feeling better. It comes in waves though, because you’re not always going to be doing the best things for yourself, running a marathon, or anything else people define fitness as. I think it’s about putting yourself in a mindset about improving something today and continue working on that. I love that I can create a space for people to come to this realization and to also step in and start somewhere.
How do you feel you’ve made a difference as an Asian American woman?
Growing up, I was provided with many opportunities by fellow Asian American women, who were my mentors growing up. My very first guidance counsellor in elementary school gave me an opportunity for my first job at the YMCA where I got to teach and mentor kindergartners and up. This counsellor was the first person to place me on a sports team. These are things I feel I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so if I didn’t have mentors in that space. So for me, it’s about paying it forward to the next generation of Asian American kids who are just coming into the States or even seeking the opportunity.
What advice would you give to Asian immigrants coming into the U.S.?
The environment has changed so much ever since I came to the States. When I came, there were a lot of opportunities to be had. We were starting from the bottom. I feel Asian Americans in this new generation benefited from those trailblazers before us and can come here for University and can start with a great advantage in that space. My advice would be to understand that we are a global world right now and that the differences we have is what gives us the advantage.
What inspired you to pursue Business Administration?
Watching my parents struggle growing up to make money, pay the bills, and create a better life for us, I really wanted to expedite that for them. They didn’t have the resources to put me through law or medical school. Business was the third best choice for me, which was to think of creative ways for me to learn something that I could one day make my parents proud of me for doing.