Sarina Jain to Teach Masala Bhangra Dance Workout Class at UC Riverside on May 24

Special event with the “Indian Jane Fonda” is free and open to the public

Masala Bhangra dance class

Sarina Jain teaches a Masala Bhangra master class to an avid group of fans.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — Fitness instructor Sarina Jain, known as “the Indian Jane Fonda,” will teach a free class of her popular Masala Bhangra dance workout at the University of California, Riverside’s Student Recreation Center on Thursday, May 24 at 5 p.m.

UC Riverside students, staff and faculty, as well as the general public are invited to come out and experience a “high-energy dance workout with a cultural twist” at the class, which is sponsored by The UCR Student Wellness Partners. Admission is free, although there will be a $5 charge for non-permit holders to park on campus.

Jain standing

Masala Bhangra creator Sarina Jain.

“We are thrilled to be able to have Sarina Jain teach a Masala Bhangra class here at UC Riverside,” said Jescelyn Villarreal, fitness and wellness coordinator at the Student Recreation Center. “She is the pioneer of bringing Indian-style dance to the global fitness industry and I think the UCR community will really enjoy the opportunity to take a class from her.”

The workout combines bhangra, the folk dance of Punjab, India, with the exhilaration of Bollywood.  Suitable for all ages and fitness levels, one session of this cardio-dance workout can burn in excess of 500 calories.  “It’s a total body workout,” Jain said. “Your arms are up in the air the whole time, while your legs, abs, and glutes are working to keep your heart rate up.”

Jain said she was excited to be invited to teach the class at UC Riverside, adding that it would be a sort of homecoming for her.

“This is the first time that I have been invited back to do a big master class in Southern California. I am so appreciative to UC Riverside, not only for putting on this event, but for opening it up to the public for free. It’s amazing,” she said. “I always come back to California – it is home to me. But it is amazing to be coming back to where it all started.”

Riverside holds a special place for her as well. Her father, Surendra Kumar Jain, worked as a civil engineer for the County of Riverside until he died of a heart attack in 1994 at the age of 47. “Riverside was like a second home to me, and I feel like I know it so well. It was an everyday drive for my father and I would occasionally get to go with him to work,” she recalled.

In addition to teaching the class, Jain will talk about her 20-year career as a fitness professional and life experiences. She created Masala Bhangra 12 years ago, in part, as a way to motivate the South-Asian community to be physically active and exercise regularly, while also promoting the Indian culture to her students who were not familiar with bhangra or Bollywood.

“I have tried to make it very accessible for the average person to understand Indian music and dance,” she said. “I don’t lose the essence of the culture. I am too proud of my heritage to do that. But my class is a big celebration; I want to show how fun an Indian wedding can be.”

In the past 12 years she has appeared on several television shows including The Dr. Oz Show and The Today Show. She has released 10 workout DVDs, hosted a show on Discovery Channel’s Fit TV, was the face of Nestlé Fitness in South America, and has workouts available through Video On Demand. She was recently featured in articles in Newsweek and The New York Times, and in a segment on ABC’s Nightline.

photo of dancers and audience from backstage

Sarina Jain leads thousands in a Self Magazine workout at Central Park in New York in 2010.

“I created my own job and I made it from scratch,” she added. “I think it shows that if you believe in something, you should go for it.”

Villarreal said that the idea to invite Jain to teach a class at UCR was partially in response to the huge turnout for Richard Simmons’ aerobics class in February.

“We got a great response from everyone who came out to see Richard, and we hope to see a similar turnout for Sarina,” Villarreal said. “We have a couple of student groups performing and want it to be not merely a workout class, but a fun, cultural event.”

The UCR Student Wellness Partners is a collaborative effort involving various campus departments that strive to promote and encourage healthy minds, bodies, and communities through the use of wellness programs, outreach and services that help shape a safe, supported and connected campus environment. The Student Wellness Partners are the Campus Health Center, Counseling Center, Dean of Students Office, Housing Dining & Residential Services, International Education Center, Student Rec Center and The Well.

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