It is anything but sedate as Shalini Bhargava brings Masala Bhangra to town. Parshathy. J. Nath picks up some of the moves

“Oye hoi oye hoi oye hoi” … how I wish I had a dholak with me! A bunch of fitness enthusiasts and dance lovers, at EMSTEP Fitness and Dance Studio jive to hearty bhangra music as master trainer, Shalini Bhargava shows us the moves. “It is a 45 to 60 minutes cardio workout. You are not supposed to stop. In case, you feel tired you can relax by doing a step at a slow tempo,” explains Shalini.

“One two three four”...The first steps are simple, but the pace soon builds up. We raise our arms and do the bhangra shake. “Let’s do it the Bachchan way!” shouts Shalini. And yes, we all do the signature Amitabh Bachchan step as we move our heads and shoulders! The hips are next. We bend our legs, move our hips backwards, to the front and sideways. Our hands keep pace and we dance to “Ishqwala Punjabi”.

Punjabi dance party

The hall rings with a chorus of balle balles, as we jump up and twirl. A few of us, who are too tired, take a break while the others dance on. Shalini leaps and moves gracefully and urges us not to stop.

“Let’s do it from the top, guys! Let’s do it all at once!” she calls out. We do the steps taught to us in order. “The add-on method is the defining feature of masala bhangra. You keep on adding steps to a cycle and do it all at a stretch,” she explains.

In the last session, Shalini surprises us by playing some popular Bollywood numbers. We sing along and groove to “Kiss of Love” from Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and “Mauja Hi Mauja” from Jab We Met. The session ends with yoga and relaxation.

Masala bhangra, founded by Sarina Jain in 1999, is now catching up in India says Shalini, who also gives masala bhangra sessions at her fitness institute in Bombay. “I have been conducting these sessions in Europe, USA and Asia for the past 18 years. It is a huge craze, there!”

Balle balle bollywood!

The music composed for masala bhangra consists of traditional Punjabi folk music and a few Bollywood film songs, with racy rhythms. “It is even called Indian aerobics. We try to make it as authentic as possible. I am a huge fan of Madhuri Dixit. So, I try to incorporate her moves into the workout session. The festive mood of masala bhangra makes you enjoy the rigorous workout, and forget about exhaustion.”

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