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Learning fitness the Bhangra way

Sarina Jain's "Masala Bhangra Workout," fitness programme blends aerobics with the Punjabi folk music.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2006 18:09 IST

Sarina Jain tells her students to pretend they are dancing at her wedding. And as her class steps, claps and sweats to the pulsating sounds of Indian drumbeats, she encourages them to "Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate!"

Jain is not getting married, and the T-shirts and workout pants worn to her class are nothing like wedding finery. But the moves she is teaching are usually seen in banquet halls and Bollywood films, not New York City gyms.

Jain is the creator of the "Masala Bhangra Workout," a fitness programme that blends aerobics with Bhangra, a type of folk music and dance that developed in Punjab. It has morphed into a modern pop dance sensation.

"Its vigour and vitality just make you move," said Jain, a dark-haired, fit California native whose parents were born in India.

Jain, dubbed the "Indian Jane Fonda" by her students, teaches at several gyms in New York, adding Bhangra to an extensive list of dance-based fitness classes that draw upon genres as diverse as African dance, ballet, hip-hop, belly dancing, salsa and mambo.

Experts say incorporating music and dance into exercise routines can help people enjoy their workouts more, and stick with them.

Music "helps people to feel more comfortable moving their bodies," said Mary Dedrick of the University of Buffalo's department of exercise and nutrition sciences.