by Jaspreet Kaur
Jaspreet Kaur was raised without Kaur role models in sports and fitness. Teachers often told her that she was bad at gym and that she was not naturally athletic. She internalized that message and never pursued fitness until she was an adult in university. In a series of four articles, she shares her 15 year fitness journey and the amazing Sikh women who have helped her along the way.
Sandeep “Sandy” Kaur
After working out with Gursharan Kaur last week, this week I found myself on a run with the fashionable and fierce Sandeep “Sandy” Kaur, aka TheSandyLion. As I mentioned in part one of this series, I was caught in a fitness slump and decided to reach out to the women around me. On this particular Friday I dusted off my running shoes and went on a run with Sandy.
My Relationship With Running
My relationship with running has been a rocky one. Like most young Sikh women in Brampton, I grew up with running being framed as some sort of objective measure of fitness. Be it the beep test, the 12 minute run, or the “k”, local schools used various universal measures which pitted students against their relative peer group.
Young Jaspreet quickly internalised the failure from these measures. If I couldn’t run a certain amount of laps in 12 minutes in high school gym, I wasn’t strong. As someone who has a positive relationship with running now, I can see the damage in this thinking. I started running on a treadmill in undergrad and then shifted to running outside. I found running apps, gear, and tools that measures my progress against my own baseline. This past year, I ran a half marathon. Yes, I ran super slow, I walked some of it, and I was passed by a few speedwalkers, but I did it! I even did a cliche silver blanket pose at the end:
Since completing it my workouts have been sporadic at best. Thus the need to reach out for support. Sandy has been in my life for over a decade now as we share nephews. She is the massi of three super cool young boys, and I am their bhua. At one of their last birthday parties I asked her to be a part of this series and she agreed. On the day of our workout we strapped the youngest of the three into his stroller and set off on a run.
If you are not one of Sandy’s 94,000 instagram followers here is a brief intro. By day Sandy is an elementary school teacher running a grade 6 classroom. Her other passion and career is being a creative consultant, a job that takes her across the world collaborating with some cool brands. Recently, she paired up with Nike, initially for a photoshoot and now for an entire run club. Her work fuses fashion and fitness and as we ran we chatted about what brought her to where she is now.
How did your journey with fitness start?
Growing up I had asthma and I was one of four sisters so my parents couldn’t afford to put us all into sports. I failed at beep tests and I tried out for every sports team in school and never made the cut. When I was 14 I started a bhangra team. We were the first Punjabi girls on a team at that time. That lead me to teaching bhangra and setting up an academy. I learned to control my asthma and carried a puffer with me. After high school was when I realised that I really needed to focus on myself. Fitness was an essential part of caring for myself and one of the few things in my life where I was the sole person who benefited. I started training with a trainer and made a commitment to getting stronger.
How did your current partnership with Nike come to be?
Nike was shooting a campaign for a new line of fitness gear you can wear everyday and they were looking for diverse models. They reached out and I modelled for them in what is one of my craziest photoshoots to date. I was literally suspended from the ceiling!
After that they reached out to start a run club. I now have a hand selected running team and we meet every other Monday to run. Nike sends out a pacer and gear. My team consists of my bhangra coach, my sisters, my brother-in-laws, friends, and myself. We all commit to running throughout the week and together we are training for a marathon.
What is your go to running track?
Crooked Smile, J Cole. But it changes daily! Anything Hip Hop.
Who is your fitness inspiration?
Also, all the people around me, especially my brother-in-law, Harjot Bains.
What are you most proud of?
My consistency! I can run for 5km now without stopping.
What keeps you motivated?
Motivation comes and goes; everyone has days when they are not motivated. I had the privilege of having a trainer. I had someone who held me accountable.
Your creative consulting has you travelling a lot, how do you stay on track?
I have equipment that I can travel with. Small things like a skipping rope and running shoes. I can run almost anywhere. I also regularly work with Lily Singh in L.A. so I keep some gear at her place. That way there is no excuse for not working out.
As a teacher, how do you break the cycle of internalizing failure around running?
I teach in Brampton and I have a very diverse classroom. I encourage my students to find the activities that are specific to them, the things they like. I am also in charge of their Daily Physical Activity (DPA) as mandated by the Ministry of Education in Ontario. I workout alongside them and they see me doing all the things they do.
If you had a daughter what is the first sport you would put her in?
Boxing. Women need to learn to defend themselves and it is something I’ve always wanted to do. Plus, it’s a full body workout!
Has being a Sikh woman helped or hindered your fitness journey?
Helped! I don’t have a story of struggle. I am one of four girls and I was raised in Sikhi. All my strength comes from being a Sikh woman. My sisters and my mom have been so supportive and never judgmental of the work that I do. One of my sisters is amritdhari and she has been supportive of my whole creative process. Being raised with strong, supportive Sikh women has made me the person I am today.
What is next for you?
I want to seriously start boxing and I want to up my pace for running.
This is part 2. Be sure to read the entire series!
Part 2 – I Hate Running & I Ran a Half Marathon
Part 3 & Part 4 – Coming soon!