Focus On: Masala Bhangra

My first taste of the Masala Bhangra workout was at the IDEA conference. (<– reason 29,382 it’s advantageous to check out IDEA if you’re a fitness professional. I was exposed to so many new fitness trends!) As you guys know, I’m a HUGE fan of international dance, so I was pretty stoked to try out something new. I’ve enjoyed some Bollywood flavor through Zumba, but it was my first time trying a workout consisting of traditional Indian dance moves. I had to stop myself from yelling, “Balle balle!” because let’s be real.. I had no idea what it means. But, I had a blast and can’t wait to try it again when I get the opportunity.

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What is it?

Masala Bhangra is a dance cardio workout, which was created by Sarina Jain in the 1990s. The movements include a mixture of Bhangra and Bollywood techniques in addition to modern dance styles. The music is upbeat, energizing, and the class is a “watch and follow” format, meaning the moves are not broken down. You watch the instructors and do what you can! Similar to many dance cardio formats, the movements repeat themselves, so you have an idea of what to expect.

 

Sarina Jain is referred to as the “Indian Jane Fonda.” She’s taught aerobics for over 20 years, and created the Masala Bhangra as a way of bringing her culture to the fitness industry. “Masala” means “spicy” in Hindi, and Bhangra is a traditional folk dance from the North part of India. Now, Masala Bhangra is offered in over 20 countries all over the world. You can read more about the workout, trainings and retreats on their website.

What to expect:

To SWEAT. Since the dances are fairly easy to follow, you can add more dynamics to the movements by increasing range of motion or impact (through jumping). Just like any dance class, you get out of it what you put into it. 

Props! Some of the dances utilize scarves, which is a fun switch-up (and distraction, haha). 

 

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Source 

Pros:

-The music! I LOVE Bollywood music and could easily jam out to that for an hour. If you despise Bollywood music, however, this would be a major con.

-Easy to follow. 

-An inviting atmosphere. As I mentioned before, this is the type of class where you can watch, try to follow and have a good time. It’s not super serious, you don’t have to be a ballerina and complete the moves perfectly… just move and enjoy!

Cons:

-Limited classes. I haven’t seen any classes near me, but they do have download and DVD options.

-Not a ton of variety. Even though I enjoy the strictly Bollywood-dance format, I wish it had just a little something more. This is just the wheels in my brain turning, but I think some yoga-inspired strength segments could be really cool.

So what do you think? Sound like a class you’d love or skip?

Have you tried Masala Bhangra?? What’s your fave dance cardio workout?

xoxo

Gina

Taking “Focus On” request! Let me know if you have something you’d like me to cover 🙂

Some past “Focus On” posts:

CrossFit

Zumba

GPP

Physique 57

Power Yoga

Kettlebell training

Intermittent Fasting

Barre workouts

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Comments

  1. Bhangra music was on the “play this or you’re not getting paid” list for our wedding DJ. lol. Probably one of the highlights of the night was dancing in a big circle with our guests to Mundian to Bach Ke by Panjabi MC…and DAMN did I work up a bridal sweat! 😉

  2. I’ve tried Masala Bhangra with Sarina a few times at Crunch and at SELF magazine’s Workout in the Park. It is always a highlight! The class is so fun and high energy! I love yelling “balle, balle!”. I think it is also a really accessible form of dance cardio for people with no dance background.

  3. I was at a conference a couple of years ago and they had Sarina Jain come in to lead one of our mid-lecture breaks. It was fun, and she was a lot of fun to do it with in person.

  4. Hello there!

    It so nice to know more about Masala Bhangra. I have heard from friends that this workout is a cardio workout. I would also love to try this since I love doing some exercises.

  5. I love the concept unfortunately none of those are around where we live 🙁 It’d be a fun and great class to try to mix up my cardio!

  6. My favorite work out DVD is actually a Bollywood cardio dance DVD, and I love it! All the pretty hand motions and stories that the dances tell, is what makes it my favorite!

  7. Is it bad that when I saw this title I thought it was about food?? lol This was good too, though!

  8. I love the bhangra dance on Solibeat! It doesnt feel like exercise per say just grooving out & very stress relieving I think! The idea of incorporating yoga strength sets is such a great idea! Maybe during summer shape up?;);$

  9. I’ve never tried Marsala Bhangra but would love to! My favorite dance cardio is Tracy Anderson method. I mute her DVD music and blast my latest Grooveshark playlist and just roll with it. It’s a real burner too.. I’m super sweaty by the end.

  10. Do a Focus On for BodyAttack! It’s a new Les Mills cardio class that is amazing! Super high-energy, both dance and sports inspired, and a lot of fun!

    • Hey Annie! Agree with you that bodyattack is amazing, but it’s definitely not new!
      Release #85 (? Maybe one release either side of that) has just been filmed at les mills headquarters in New Zealand. With 4 releases a year, it’s been around for just over 20 years! How cool is that 🙂 it’s been around internationally since around 1997 I think, and in the us since about 2005/2006.

  11. I took masala Bhangra in DC religiously for years and loved it– shout out to Earla, world’s greatest dance fitness instructor who is now in NYC. Loved it and we formed a real community and learned a lot about Indian dance and culture. A great steady state option and I miss it a TON! <3

  12. Hi Gina,

    I’m from India, and here we all enjoy bhangra very much. In almost each marriage everyone do bhangra. Though I wasn’t aware that bhangra can help you to lose weight, I’m certainly going to do it in the morning after all everybody likes to be fit and healthy.

  13. It sounds fun but I think I’d prefer Doonya (doonya.com). It’s a Bollywood workout too, but targeted to a younger audience. They always use brand news songs from the latest Bollywood blockbusters ; it’s a bit less traditional and more ‘modern and hip’.

  14. It looks fun! I don’t think I’m coordinated enough though!

  15. Oh wow! This looks like so much fun! I would love to try this out!!!

  16. Aside from Zumba, which I have yet to try, I have done and ADORED the Doonya workouts–they’re a dance company focusing on Bollywood + cardio fusion and they put together really fun, upbeat classes that are super high-energy. Would love to hear your thoughts if you ever try. They have online classes too! (http://www.doonya.com/) I’m not affiliated with them in any, just a big fan!

  17. I’ve been taking Sarina’s total body conditioning classes in New York for years (she teaches a few other classes in addition to masala bhangra), and she is by far the most challenging instructor and the most fun (she has a ton of energy!). I’ve also taken her masala bhangra classes in New York and had a great time. It’s a fun way to get a workout in.

  18. There actually use to be a “show” on FitTV (before FitTV went away) that was Masala Bhangra. At the time I knew nothing about it but I would follow along. I am not a dancer at all but found the movements easy enough and enjoyed the music. Now I’m wondering who the instructor was in that show – if it was Sarina or not. I miss FitTV.

  19. I used to be such a class taking person until I started running to race and place, now I can barely force myself to go to Hot Yoga and that is mandated by my coach and physical therapist. I have a bad mindset that I am not really getting the benefits of a workout unless I am full on going hard the entire time. It’s hard for me to even swim, because I don’t have the sweat validation of the session, so I push really hard for 50 meters every 10 laps so I have a rest session of 15 seconds where I can barely catch my breath. This sounds like a lot of fun, though. I have been exposed to a lot of Indian culture in my schooling and profession, and I really love it, so maybe this is something I should look in to!

  20. I have two Bollywood workout DVDs by Hemalayaa. They’re both very beginner-friendly and fun, though I didn’t find them as challenging as other types of workouts.

    For your Focus On posts, I’m curious about Insanity and P90x, though I know those are kind of old at this point. Or multi-sport training, which is a bit random, but hey, it sounds interesting. 🙂

  21. There is a new type of workout called kaatsu that usa triathletes use… Can you post about it? It’s like they isolate muscles

  22. Jennifer Tu says:

    Hi Gina! Love your focus on posts. Was wondering your thoughts on the mini-trampoline (rebounder). Heard it was wonderful for the lymphatic system. Perhaps you could one day in the future do a review on that.

  23. I love the work out and it’s my favorite! I’ve taken her class at Alvin Ailey and with other instructors at local gyms too.

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