There’s No Business Like Masala Business

From the News Tab (thanks, Aliya), a link to an article in the New York Daily News: “Bhangra dance workout is a sweaty fitness celebration.” It’s a profile of Sarina Jain, whose “Masala Bhangra” aerobics classes have been mentioned at Sepia Mutiny before. The highlight has to be this passage:

Jain infuses her classes with elements of both Indian and American cultures, alternating shouts of “Balle Balle!” – a Punjabi expression of joy – with very American exclamations of “Sexy arms! Sexy arms!”

The steady beats of Bhangra and shouts of encouragement from Jain keep the energy level up, even as students’ faces get pink.

Jain’s students – women and one man at a recent session at a Manhattan gym — pulse their arms and follow her footwork as she instructs the class using a headset microphone.

“Her enthusiasm is quite infectious,” said Pradyot Dhulipala, a 26-year-old programmer and the only man in the class. Dhulipala said he mentioned Jain’s workout in his blog and got 30 to 40 additional hits that day. (link)

30 to 40 additional hits on his blog, huh? I wonder if we can do a little better: here. Pradyot’s comments on his experience at Masala Bhangra are pretty entertaining, and might bear comparing to Abhi’s own gym obsession:

I started out running and lifting weights and graduated to taking pilates since I found that both running and weights without the necessary stretching made the body preety stiff. Admittedly it was awkward at first since there aren’t too many guys at exercise classes.

Now being too cheap to spring for a real dance class, I also decided I need to take up some dance based exercise class since I really wanted to be a little more graceful in any future exertions on the dance floor. But that would be even more embarrassing, since such classes have steps that are way too girly (Yes I did one in Binghamton — a fact that I’ll never live down).

Bhangra can never be too girly, so it fit into my plans well. so I went this week.

Trust me, being Indian, didn’t give me the slightest advantage. I was still the worst in class. I was amazed at how good everyone was, and it was tons of fun, maybe a tad high impact for my liking. But, if I can, I’ll go again. (link; corrected punctuation and spelling)

Yaar, vis a vis girly moves, I am with you. (But don’t worry — what happened at that gym in Binghamton… stays in Binghamton. Hareepa!)

21 thoughts on “There’s No Business Like Masala Business

  1. When I was younger, and was a counselor at various religious youth camps, I used to hold a Bhangra Aerobics session during the sports time in the afternoon – and note, this was before the time of “Masala Bhangra”. You think I could sue? :P

  2. Anyone know of such a class in DC? Where the emphasis is on a work out and not how the participants look in the mirror?

    (I won’t give any names but I was disappointed to one such place in the district a few months ago. Noone broke a sweat and insteda of the usual panting etc one associates with a high impact routine, all I heard was giggles and lilting Phalguni Pathak tunes.)

  3. Who needs to plunk down big bucks for a fancy Manhattan gym? A well-spun Punjabi wedding reception is all the workout I need. . . until my folks resume their pleas to give them a reason to hire a Punjabi DJ, that is.

  4. aww shucks, Hairy-D ;)

    I was so bummed when that article in the Denver Post came out because they reviewed a “bollywood aerobics” class in California– hello?!?! Bollywood in your own backyard, people!

    Msichana– try Dhoonya Dance. They’re pretty awesome, and it’s a really welcoming teaching style, not some diva session. They’re fun and upbeat and casual and it’s just a great way to exercise without treadmilling it. I love them.

    Sarina Jain is awesome, AND a sweetheart– I totally encourage all NYC mutineers or SFO mutineers to take her & Sheila’s class. It makes your booty go din din na na. ;)

  5. Personally I think Pooja Narang’s Bollywood dance classes are far more phenomenal and more popular with the boys as well as non desis. She doesn’t just teach bhangra she teaches a ton of other filmy and hindustani dances as well. Check it out here.

  6. The site won’t let me post a link but if you go to and type “Christian yoga sweeps US” in the search box, you’ll see a really funny video clip…

  7. definitely JoaT, Pooja Narang is the best in NYC without a doubt. Both her bhangra & bollywood classes are awesome, and she’s a phenomenal teacher. But I have my biases ;)

  8. DesiDancer,

    Aha, the mystery of your true superhero identity is finally solved ;)

    I thought that picture of you in the Indian outfit as a kid was especially cute. I bet your parents love that pic. Awwwww ;)

    Jai pats DD on the head indulgently

    Doubles up in pain as DD punches him in the stomach

    Anyway, as I said before, you have an impressive resume and you seem to be doing great work in your dance classes, so kudos to you for that. I hope it is going well and wish you continuing success for the future.

  9. Lubriderm-

    Thanks for the link. I’ll definitely be checking this out!

  10. definitely JoaT, Pooja Narang is the best in NYC without a doubt. Both her bhangra & bollywood classes are awesome, and she’s a phenomenal teacher. But I have my biases ;)

    :-) I had no idea till I read the bio. Fabulous…

  11. in DC, i recommend . they seem to be a lot of fun. one of the founders i personally know, so i might be biased. but her moves are so amazing, not only do u just want to learn, but show them off at the next party! i’m serious.

  12. if anyone knows of classes like this in the philadelphia area, i’d love to know…

  13. hi all! i totally recommend rhythmaya’s classes – the instructor does a really great job of balancing workout/fitness with dance technique, etc. ive been to both their bollywood and bhangra classes in friendship heights, and while you break a sweat in bollywood, the bhangra blast class is a pretty intense workout. classes are run really professionally, but are still upbeat and fun. check it out!

  14. if you’re in dc. i would recommend Dhoonya Dance School ( they have a whole bunch of different classes starting in two weeks. i’ve heard good things about the bollywood expressions class they offer. its really unique i haven’t found anything like it elsewhere