Thursday, May 26, 2005

The "Indian Jane Fonda" with roots in Jaipur

They call her the “Indian Jane Fonda”. But she could as well be named Jain Fonda. Meet Sarina Jain, a fitness instructor with roots in Jaipur, who ensured that Bhangra moved beyond its homeland in rustic Punjab to become the rage amongst fitness freaks in the US. From New York to San Francisco, Masala Bhangra Workout (MBW) has proved to be a hit, earning her a sizeable student size and generous applause from the media there.

But, as she tells Hindustan Times in an e-mail interview, it is not a simple bhangra class but more. “There is a procedure to it. There is a warm up and cool down and then the actual workout – it is not just a dance class where I go and play music and we dance – no. Not like that at all,” she writes. “It is a true cardio workout and you can burn over 500 calories an hour. It is very hard but everyone who does it has a blast,” she adds.

Image from Asian Week

Being in the fitness industry for the past 15 years, the workout comprises bits from step aerobics, weight training and spinning, among others. “I grew up dancing to all kinds of music and bhangra was something that stood out to me,” she writes. Despite being born in Los Angeles (her parents emigrated to the US in the 1970s), Jain insists her Rajasthani connection is “as strong as it can be”. “I am in Jaipur every year to meet my grandparents and cousins,” she adds, recollecting the morning walks with her uncle and her favourite lassiwalla next to her home near Gopalbari.

There are the obvious sceptics but the fad has caught on in the US since it was launched in 2000 and a set of four MBW DVDs, featuring the exercises, can even be bought online at It has even spawned copycats, she claims. Having grown up with Jane Fonda, the celebrity fitness instructor, one of Jain’s dreams was to have her videos too. “Now that I have four of them, I take it as a huge compliment when my students call me the Indian Jane Fonda,” she says.

With a hub in New York, the classes have moved to San Francisco and Jain is now training others to teach for her. Despite the Indian connection, MBW is more popular with the Americans than with the desis. “99 per cent of my students are Americans… there are very few Indians in the class. Indians have the lowest rate in physical activity and one out of 10 doctors (in the US) is an Indian. It is a sad statistic,” she adds.

One of my reports for Hindustan Times


Anonymous Anonymous said...

she is really good in bed

1:14 AM  

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