Sarina Jain: Changing the Game When it Comes to Fitness

Sarina Jain

With biography notes from

#BoldAndInspiring South Asian Women Series: Honours Fitness Innovator, and founder of Masala Bhangra workout, game-changer, Sarina Jain.  Follow our hashtag, #mminspire  for the conversation.

When you meet Sarina Jain, only one phrase comes to mind, ‘Fierce and fearless’. It’s this combination that has made her a woman that never stops innovating and one that gives her whole self to her craft.

She’s been hailed as the “Indian Jane Fonda,” and is the creator of the original Masala Bhangra® DVD series. An AFAA® certified fitness instructor for over 21 years, she teaches classes ranging from step aerobics, total body conditioning and many more. She inspires many people around the world with her knowledge and passion for Bhangra and Bollywood.  Sarina has over 12 workout videos under her belt with Masala Bhangra® classes offered in over 20 countries around the world.

Sarina’s fierce and fearless attitude combined with her passion are the elements that have helped her become an internationally renowned Indian-American fitness instructor—one that has created a fitness concept that blends Bhangra along with modern, funky dance moves to appeal to the American exercise industry.

Jain introduced her Bhangra/Bollywood-style fitness routine to the U.S. with her first workout tape in 1999 and directed and produced a total of 12 high-intensity workouts in her Masala Bhangra® DVD series. 

This California-native started leading fitness classes at a very young age and has been a certified fitness instructor for 21 years. In 2010, Jain was the new face for Nestle Fitness throughout Latin America, where 2.6 million cereal boxes included her “Masala Bhangra® Bollywood Style” DVD.

Today, Sarina is a mom to a daughter and lives in New York. As a masalamomma on-the-go and a fitness innovator, she continues to inspire her community everywhere she goes.

We interviewed her about her incredible journey:

You started a fitness regimen at a time when there was very little out there, what made masala bhangra workout a breakout workout and helped it gain traction?

[bctt tweet=”At the time I started Masala Bhangra, there were no Indian dance workouts like this. I wanted to bring my own culture to the fitness industry at a global level and it was a great idea. ” username=”masalamommas”]

It is still very popular, and I am celebrating 18 years this year.

Did you grow up with bhangra?

I grew up dancing bhangra, but more importantly, I grew up dancing. My sister and I would always dance at our Indian parties, so it was easy to pick up bhangra.

How many countries is Masala Bhangra available in via your ambassador program?

Masala Bhangra is now available in 20 different countries. It’s been a lot of work but totally satisfying.

 Who have been your mentors along with way?

My mentors have been influential women around the world. Definitely mom…She doesn’t give up on anything she puts her mind to. It’s been rewarding to be around her energy.

What were some of the hurdles you faced along the way? 

With every great idea, there are many hurdles to face. One hurdle was actually shocking to me.

I didn’t expect my own Indian community would go against me, but when I was celebrating Masala Bhangra’s 10-year anniversary, I had a year of hate come by from Indian kids born and raised in North America. It was an interesting experience, but it was a shock and quite sad.

They were upset and thought I was taking bhangra and butchering it. In fact, I was taking bhangra and introducing it to people who had never heard of it before. While I received a lot of hate mail, threats and calls, I am glad I didn’t quit. Masala Bhangra has become a lifestyle for many people around the world and that’s inspired me to keep going.

What was your biggest lesson as a female entrepreneur?

No matter what comes your way—never give up. There are years which have been amazing and there have been years which have been slow. Regardless of it all, it has been an amazing experience. I am realizing that I do this as a labour of love. To see people stay in shape and get out of their comfort zone is why I do this.

What is your favourite/most proud moment in your journey?

There are many proud moments. So many to pick from! Here are a few highlights:

Celebrating 25 years in the fitness industry

18 years of Masala Bhangra®

Face of Nestlé Fitness Cereal Box for 2010 featured on 2.6 million boxes

5 seasons hosting Discovery Channel’s All-Star Workouts on FitTV

~ 15 Masala Bhangra® workout videos

~ 500 Masala Bhangra® Ambassadors around the world

~ July 2015 Cover Girl for American Fitness Magazine


Now that you’re a mom how do you view fitness differently?

I am amazed at how the body changes so much when you are pregnant. The body is a lot stronger than you think. I taught throughout my entire pregnancy and it was an empowering feeling to know that my baby was working out with me while inside. When she was born, I promised myself that we would be an active family because I think it’s important to introduce an active lifestyle to kids at an early age. I can tell you, she already loves to swim!

Tell us about your mom and baby workout?

When I was seven months pregnant, I came out with two workout videos. Bollywood Baby and Bar Bhangra Baby. Bollywood Baby is a dance workout combining bhangra and Bollywood together. It gets you and up and moving, gets your heart pumping and just enough to get you sweating and feeling good while being pregnant.

Sarina Jain baby workout

Bar Bhangra is an Indian Dance workout with the combination of 1-lbs bars. It is essential to lift weights at any moment in your life whether you’re pregnant or not. It is important especially for women, as our bones become weaker as we get older.

Where do you think the gaps/misconceptions are when it comes to South Asian women and exercise?

I think the gap is just the lack of making exercise an important part of our lives. I didn’t grow up exercising. I grew up with the importance that family is number one, education is number one and making sure everyone in the household is well fed and educated. Exercise came in my early teens when I found a love for wanting to stay active and fit. It is now in my generation that us South Asian women actually incorporate exercise into our lifestyle and make it a habit.

How do you juggle life now as a mom and fitness instructor/brand manager, CEO? 

This is one that I didn’t think would be hard, but wow, it is definitely a juggle. I think the first year or two is hard but then it all falls into place. While it isn’t ideal to get married later in life and start a family, I am glad I did it. At the time, it allowed me to shape up my career.

Today I am able to slow down a bit, so I can be a full-time mom. I am focused on building my family and once that ’s done, I will get back into to travelling full-time with masala bhangra. One of the key factors I’ve had to rely on is making sure I have help. If it wasn’t for my mom, I don’t know what I would have done. Now that I have a grip on things, I am able to hire someone full-time, so my mom can go back to being a grandma.

What’s the best advice you received as an entrepreneur? What lessons do you hope to impart on your daughter?

The best advice I’ve received is to maintain my integrity. Maintain my dignity and determination and to stay focused. Things will come and go but as long as have my eye on my vision, nothing can stop me. I hope to impart this on to my daughter. I want to make sure she grows up with the influence that anything is possible—that she should never even for one second, question or doubt herself or her ideas!


Follow Sarina’s journey via twitter @SarinaJain and on Instagram.

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