HEALTH: Inspired by Culture, Sarina Jain Creates a Movement
BEYOND BOLLYWOOD: Q&A WITH MASALA BHANGRA CREATOR SARINA JAIN
With swimsuit season looming around the corner, who doesn’t want to slim down and tone up a bit? And, what better way than to get moving, especially with music that gets you pumped! In an exclusive for my Health and Wellness series, I’m proud to chat up Sarina Jain, creator of the Masala Bhangra Workout. “What really gets me high energy is watching people change their lives; listening to people’s stories on how they want to live a more healthier lifestyle; seeing people let their hair down and letting go of their inhibition,” says Jain, also known as the “Jane Fonda of India,” sharing fitness and her Indian heritage with the world. We cover a lot of ground here, so keeping reading.
NOTE: Photos courtesy of Sarina Jain of Masala Bhangra ®
TFM: What inspired the Masala Bhangra Workout and describe its cross-cultural appeal in the U.S.
SJ: The American people have fallen in love with Masala Bhangra ®. That is why I was able to grow. They love the culture, the dance, the color and everything about it. Because Americans understand why fitness is important and that it is part of your daily routine … the general conception is that the American culture puts their workouts first. They make the time to make get their exercise in for the day. They base their schedules around working out. They are also open to trying something new. I must be onto something as to the last 12 years with a brand is pretty awesome and we are just getting started now!
I wish my own Indian people would come and take classes more. Most Indian people say, “I know bhangra. Why would I want to pay for it?” And my answer to that is – “give me a chance or I challenge you to come and check it out.” Yes, we are doing movements that you know, but to put a direction to it is something else. And that for 45 minutes STRAIGHT! Seriously, I challenge you. I see more and more Indians coming to my classes today. I see them taking a serious interest in their health and I say, “FINALLY!”
WHAT INSPIRED THIS CONCEPT IS THIS …
I was born and raised in the U.S. to two Indian parents that migrated to the states in the 70s. Both mom and dad wanted to make sure that we kids would grow up with the best of what the West has to offer without forgetting the East. Dad made sure to send us to India every summer to spend time with our families, our grandparents and learn to appreciate what the Indian culture is all about. My father was our rock. He was this man who was our friend, yet protector. Dad would always tell us to be proud to be who you are and to respect the culture you come from and to stand on our own feet.
Dad was a very proud Indian man living In the U.S. One day, my mom called to say, “He is not breathing anymore.” My father passed away to a massive cardiac arrest at the age of 47. So, to honor him and his existence and everything he told us to be proud of, I created Masala Bhangra®. I wanted to tell him that not only am I proud to be an Indian woman living in the U.S., but now I teach aspects of our culture though fitness.
Ever since the concept of Masala Bhangra®, which was created out of my garage, 12 years later, it is one of the top 5 workout DVDs to do in the U.S. Today, I have 10 DVDs that are out. I have over 1000 Masala Bhangra® Ambassadors representing “our Indian culture” with pride to their students. I have to say, I am still in aaawwwwe of what came out of my garage years ago. I love every minute of it and it is growing more and more. I hope my father is proud.
TFM: Tips for those who consider themselves rhythmically challenged? Does a sense of humor help in class? And, how intense are these workouts?
SJ: A sense of humor is important to have otherwise life will be so serious. Anyone who has a pulse can try Masala Bhangra® as it will challenge you in different ways that we are otherwise used to. People say that Masala Bhangra® is the yin yang to yoga. It allows you to channel the masculine/feminine energy in you.
TFM: How does it feel to watch your classes grow amid widespread interest since launching that first workout tape in 1999? Were you surprised by the response?
SJ: I had a vision in 1999. My vision was only for five years. It was after landing a show on FIT TV that my vision grew for life. I created a powerful practice for people to let go of themselves with a direction in movement and it has truly been a blessing to go around the world and inspire people to get up and move!
TFM: What’s your earliest impressions of Bollywood film? Any pivotal moments or dance scenes that got your full attention?
SJ: This is a funny question as we are born with our Indian culture in us! :) My first Indian movie that had a huge impact on me was Hum Aapke hai Koon? Which means, Who Am I to You. And, Dil To Pagal Hai, which means, My Heart is Crazy.
TFM: Growing up in California must have influenced your general outlook on life? Was the move to New York City a bit jarring, and how have you settled into the daily grind through the years?
SJ: The minute I decided to bring Masala Bhangra® to NYC was the day I felt at home. I knew it was the right move to do and 13 years later, Masala Bhangra® is one of the top 5 workout videos to do, according to AOL. Pretty powerful decision.
TFM: The schedule you keep demands high-energy. Describe yourself in three words. And, what’s your favorite home-cooked dish that really gets you pumped?
SJ: My schedule does demand me to be on it at all times. I sleep on the plane. :)
What really gets me high energy is watching people change their lives; listening to people’s stories on how they want to live a more healthier lifestyle; seeing people let their hair down and letting go of their inhibition. More than anything, I ask people to give me their hearts and they do. It’s beautiful!
Food gets me pumped up!!! I cook all the time when I am home. And, I love making Paneer Makhani in coconut oil. And, anything spicy gets me pumped!!!!
DISCLAIMER: Health and wellness material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or to prevent any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. You should consult a qualified health care professional before starting any diet, supplement, home remedy or exercise program, or if you have or suspect you may have a health condition. I encourage individuals to research all avenues for optimal overall wellness.
Masala Bhangra Workout: http://www.masaladance.com/
Sarina Jain Global (YouTube channel): http://www.youtube.com/user/sarinajainglobal