Forget Zumba! The world is going gaga over Masala Bhangra, a fitness method that combines Bhangra and Bollwood moves to create a high intensity workout set against pulsating beats. Celebrities ranging from Deepak Chopra to Vanessa Williams swear by it! With over ten different DVDs to choose from, you are bound to have a rollicking time, sweating it out and working your way to a toned body.
YI: Why bhangra and how did you come up with the idea?
SJ: I was born and raised in the US to Indian parents. My parents wanted to make sure that we 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 grandparents and to learn to appreciate Indian culture. My father was our rock; our friend and protector. Dad would always tell us to respect the culture you come from and to stand on our own feet. He passed away to a massive cardiac arrest at the age of 47. So to honour him and his existence and everything he told us to be proud of, I created Masala Bhangra.
How did you enter the world of fitness and in your opinion, what is its importance?
SJ: I have been teaching fitness for the last 21 years. It was a hobby that became a full-time career. I decided to take it seriously after losing my father. Health and fitness is very important. Taking care of your body should be number one in your list of priorities!
YI: Do you personally love bhangra a lot? Tell us more!
SJ: I grew up in the US around many Indian people. We were involved with Diwali functions, Holi celebrations, Garba, Ras and what have you! So when the dance competitions started, we put on a bhangra item together. Yes, I love bhangra and the meaning behind the dance. I love the folk aspect of it and the strength of it. I am proud to be the pioneer of bringing bhangra to the forefront of fitness. People know Bollywood, but they really don’t know what they are missing out on since bhangra is what brings people together.
YI: Tell us more about the Masala Bhangra videos.
SJ: The Masala Bhangra workout videos are easy to follow and perfect if you want to work out in the privacy of your house and at the same time enjoy dancing and getting a good sweat out of it! Many people use my workout videos for many reasons. Some use it to learn to dance, to get a good cardio workout or to learn a dance move for an upcoming wedding! It’s so nice to hear from people who say that Masala Bhangra helped to bring their family together!
YI: How different is this method from other dance workouts?
SJ: Masala Bhangra is an Indian dance workout combined with the folk side of bhangra and the exhilaration of Bollywood. There are many other dance workouts. But I really suggest that you find something that you like. People are drawn to this fitness style because they are attracted to the culture, music and the basic love for fitness. Taking a Masala Bhangra class allows you to forget your worries and get immersed in Indian culture. By the end of the class, everyone feels really satisfied. You’ll find most of the people in the class sweating, clapping and shouting out “Balle Balle!” They feel ready to start their day with a huge smile. It really is an exhilerating feeling!
What has made bhangra so popular abroad?
SJ: It’s people like me or even DJ Rekha, who have brought bhangra to the forefront of our industries. It’s the beat of the dhol that people love and is universally understood too! It makes you want to move and to celebrate. I tell everyone in class to celebrate their health and their life. It’s precious! I wish more of my own Indian people would take more classes. Most Indian people say, “I know bhangra. Why would I pay for it?” And my answer to that is, “I challenge you to come and check it out!”
Who are the people who attend Masala Bhangra classes?
SJ: Anyone and everyone who has a pulse can experience Masala Bhangra to the fullest. Kids are also in love with this program too as I even have a workout video especially for the kids. There’s no age limit as such!
What’s it like being the official face of Nestle in Latin America?
SJ: When Nestle approached me to be their face for 2.6 million cereal boxes, it was like a dream come true. It was amazing to see the hard work that I had put in over the last 12 years come alive on a box for the whole of Latin America to see. I wish I could do the same for a brand in India.
YI: A message for our young readers?
SJ: There are so many kids today who are lazy, bored or not motivated to move or do anything at all. I’m hoping to slowly change this attitude. It was an eye opener for me after losing my father. We live for our family and friends and for ourself, so why not live longer? You have got to find something that you enjoy doing and take care of that heart of yours as I for sure want it to be around for a long time! I hope to inspire people to take action on it.
Volume 2 Issue 1