Jas Kaur, also known as Fit Kaur on Instagram, is a personal trainer and podcaster, and founded the popular support group Brown Girls Rising with her partner Sven. She came into national attention for being open about being disowned by her family for choosing to love someone outside of her culture and religion. Now, as one of the most influential South Asian female influencers, Jas Kaur is thriving and supporting others to live a life that is true to themselves.
We had the chance to sit down with Jas and explore her life journey, her love of fitness, her experiences around getting disowned, and how she has converted those feelings into a drive to empower and support others.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Jas Kaur and I live in Sydney with my partner Sven. I grew up as the eldest of three kids to an immigrant Sikh family in Sydney. I was shy and I worked hard, studied hard and kept to myself. I got the top female scores in my final year at high school, I finished my Bachelors degree with a distinction HD average and landed a corporate job in a lucrative industry. I sound great on paper, right? I sound like someone who had their “sh*t together”.
But there was always something missing. I didn’t feel happy. I disliked my line of work and slowly began to dislike my life because of it. I felt “suffocated” in my own life. I knew a change needed to happen but I was scared to let others down.
I found peace in exercise. Amazingly, there was something very therapeutic about lifting heavy sh*t and putting it back down. Training helped me not just develop physical but also mental strength. It gave me more direction and clarity.
I slowly started to discover the real me and realised that I wasn't who everyone wanted me to be. I began my personal evolution. At the same time I realised: If I could go from feeling like crap to feeling so good with something so simple, this had to work for other people, too. Over the next year, I moulded my career around my love for health and fitness and became a fully qualified Personal Trainer.
Of course, I still had doubts initially. Was I wasting my education? What would other people think? Was I gonna fall flat on my face? The initial doubts vanished eventually as I built a career in fitness and started to see positive changes in the lives of my clients. I learned to switch off the noise and focus on my own journey.
Fast forward three years to 2018, I took a 180. I broke out from "my cage" and spread my wings to fly high and free. Today, I am no longer living a double life between who other people want me to be and who I really am. I stood up against societal oppression and expectations. I dropped the guilt and shame of putting myself and my own happiness first. I finally am my true authentic self.
As a personal trainer, I am grateful that each day, both online and in person, I can help other people break free from their cages and transform physically and mentally. For me, personal training is my way of performing the Sikh concept of Seva, the selfless service.
You have accomplished some spectacular things from being a certified PT, podcaster, and even as the founder of Brown Girls Rising. What drives you to keep pushing forward and how do you stay motivated?
The support group Brown Girls Rising and the podcast 2Authentic as founded after my disownment. In 2018, I was disowned by my birth family as they could not accept my interracial relationship. They had expected me to have an arranged marriage and I did the opposite and fell in love with someone outside my culture and religion. When I was disowned, there were no resources on how to deal with the situation. I felt alone in my struggle but after sharing my story on my IG, I received hundreds of messages of support from women who were disowned by their families or who were in fear of being disowned. This is what inspired my partner Sven and I to start the Brown Girls Rising support community on Facebook and Instagram. Being disowned was and still is a taboo and even today many of us who go through this experience are blamed for it. Parts of society tell us that we are the “bad children” who deserve to be disowned. We are labelled as “traitors to our culture”. This is what inspires me to keep going and use my voice to shed light on this. I want to continue to help others who are stuck in similar situations and inspire change in our culture.
As a brown woman, from a young age there is a lot of pressure put on you, so you become accustomed to leading a “double life.” How did you learn to be your most authentic self?
I used to be a serial “people pleaser” - putting the needs of everyone else before my own because I didn’t think my voice mattered. I thought it was my duty to be an obedient daughter and follow the path that was set for me. This led to a constant internal battle - do I put myself first and risk losing my support system or do I continue to walk the path that is expected of me? I led this a “double life” for many years where I was one person at home and within the community and another person, the real me, everywhere else. At a certain point the burden just became too heavy to bear. I couldn’t keep letting myself down to keep others comfortable anymore. I realised that people pleasing was a big reason for my anxiousness and had to make a change before it was too late. I finally “ripped the bandaid off" in early 2018 I decided that it was time to put myself first. I reminded myself that I deserved to feel peace, joy and freedom and I gave myself those things.
Did you face any struggles growing up/do you face any now?
Growing up I faced the “typical brown girl” struggles. Leading a double life, lying about where I was and who I was with, constantly people pleasing and trying to maintain the peace without rocking the boat were all very real for me. Once I shed the parts of my conditioning that no longer served me, I was able to break free and gain my voice, freedom and peace. The feeling of inner peace is still something that I am getting used to.
What makes you feel connected to your roots?
My Sikh faith and my spirituality help me to feel a deep connection to my roots. Parts of my extended family and people in the community have told me to disassociate myself from my religion because I am “not a good Sikh”. They have even told me to drop my second name “Kaur” because I am with a man of a different faith. Sikhism, however, is a religion of love, unity, acceptance and peace that is built on the belief that we are all one. I consider myself a Sikh and will continue to do so regardless of what anyone says.
Do you have any advice for other young desi women?
Whatever decisions you make, remind yourself that your joy, peace and freedom of choice matter. If a system tells us that self sacrifice is expected, that we obey certain rules, that we do not have a choice and that love must fit inside certain rules and regulations, then we must question it. We deserve to have the freedom to choose our own path. We must remember that choosing our own path is not selfish, it is absolutely necessary if we are to live a life in alignment with our true selves.
What’s something that’s on your bucket list?
Honestly, I have never really had a bucket list! I think 2020 has also taught us that things don’t always go to plan and that it is important to be present and go with the flow. When the time comes me to leave this earth, I just want to be able to say that I lived a life to my design and made everybody feel like a somebody.
Who are your favorite desi creators?
My all time favourite is @the.indian.feminist. The founders Harsharin and Simran do a great job at sharing valuable content to raise awareness on different feminist issues. There are so many creators I love but off the top of my head other favourites include @deepica, @jusmun and @padmalakshmi.
Do you have any other pieces of advice or anecdotes you would like to share?
No matter what our society or families teaches you, your happiness matters. Your peace matters, Your dreams mater. Your joy matters. YOU matter. We are not just someones sister, wife, friend, partner or daughter that has to fulfil her duties. We are whole just as we are. We must remind ourselves of this and that our first duty is to ourselves. If we choose to put ourselves, our freedom and our happiness first, then we will be the generation of women who will not inherit the silence of our mothers. We will break the cycle for the generations that follow - because what is a life lived for the comfort of others? That is not a life, it is a life sentence. You can learn more about me here: Tik Tok : @fit.kaur IG: @fit.kaur Website: www.fitkaur.com