Illustration by Diana Egan of a blogilates calendar
Cassey Ho motivates her fans to do more and achieve more. (Illustration by Diana Egan, University of Kentucky)

How Blogilates Founder Cassey Ho Encourages Body Positivity

The Asian American fitness instructor uses her platform to encourage people to pursue a healthy lifestyle and a healthy attitude toward themselves.

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Illustration by Diana Egan of a blogilates calendar

The Asian American fitness instructor uses her platform to encourage people to pursue a healthy lifestyle and a healthy attitude toward themselves.

Cassey Ho, the founder of Blogilates and POP Pilates, is not your average online fitness personality. For nearly a decade now, Ho has inspired a healthier approach to exercise and eating right through honesty and body positivity.

The fitness movement’s website describes POP Pilates as “a powerful fusion of music, strength, and choreography that takes classical Pilates to the next level.” When she created POP Pilates, Ho fused traditional Pilates with pop music, producing an inspiringly creative movement that guides people to fitness through fun.

Ho was working as a Pilates instructor when she posted her first POP Pilates video on her YouTube channel, Blogilates. “POP Pilates: Total Body Sculpt Workout – Abs, Butt, Thighs, Legs, Arms! (Full 10 min) Pilates Video” was intended as a farewell workout video for her students in Los Angeles because she was moving to Boston in order to pursue a career in fashion.

Ho continued to make these videos for her former students, not knowing that it was the first step toward building her world of Blogilates.

Today, the again-Los Angeles-based Pilates instructor has created a fitness empire. She has inspired her following, aka POPsters, through her bestselling book, “Hot Body Year Round,” and her performance activewear line, POPFLEX, in addition to her YouTube channel.

Blogilates has over 500 million video views and 4.7 million subscribers on YouTube, making it the number one female fitness channel on YouTube.

The YouTube personality and entrepreneur now creates a range of POP Pilates videos including exercise routines to popular songs, workout series that cater to her audience’s requests and excruciating exercise challenges that leave those who follow along with burning thighs and sore muscles.

The variety of exercise routines in her videos are not the only way Ho aims to encourage and motivate the Blogilates community. Ho has repeatedly expressed to her fans that there is so much more to Blogilates than just following along to her instructions and the beat of the music.

She also produces healthy cooking videos like her series “Cheap Clean Eats,” comedy sketches about exercising and rant-style videos where she discusses her own experience with fitness, health and self-confidence.

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🍦🍰HOW TO GET OVER FOOD GUILT🍕🍔 . I just got back from a 4 day trip, and let’s just say my tastebuds were very very happy 😊 Between the healthy salads…I TOTALLY indulged on churro donut holes, ice cream sundaes, pizzas, milk shakes, burgers, animal-style fries – I mean I WENT HARD. . Rewind back just a few years and you’d have a pitiful Cassey feeling bad about her choices and logging extra dreaded hours at the gym to “punish” herself. Cassey today – she just lives her life and owns it! . 1️⃣ So how do you get to food freedom? . Think about this: Does feeling guilty reverse the fact that you ate the food? Does it somehow make you feel better? Does it teach you anything? Nope. It just steals your time, makes you feel miserable and gives food way too much power over your thoughts. . 2️⃣ Why do you feel guilty? . When you feel guilty about eating ”bad” food, it’s because you think you’ve actually done something wrong. You’re upset. You’re disgusted. You hate yourself for having no control. . But the reality is, food is fuel – not a moral issue! What we need to do is REDEFINE what it means to eat healthy. Feeling guilty for eating “bad” food is just as unhealthy for your mind as feeling superior for eating “good” food. . 3️⃣ You gotta stand strong behind your own decisions. . If you’re going to eat a “YOLO meal”, then do it wholeheartedly. Make the decision, then commit to it 100%. Eat it, enjoy it, forget about it, move on. Remember, 1 YOLO meal…or one indulgent weekend won’t ruin everything! . Full blog post at (bio link) #blogilates

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In her video “What I think about Fat Shaming & Body Image Disorders,” Ho shares how she felt while reading the negative comments shaming her body in her other videos. A lot of the comments not only criticized her body and called her fat, but also deemed her as unworthy to be a fitness instructor.

“When I read some of these comments, they make me cry,” Ho says in the video, “because I grew up being a little bit overweight, and I fought to have the body and life that I have today.”

Ho then encourages her community to work together to battle body shaming, conquer the negativity and change the way women look at their bodies.

“My body and your body. It doesn’t define who you are. You are not measured by the distance between your thighs, by how flat your abs are, by how big your butt is,” Ho continues, “You are more than that. You are full of character, personality, talents, skills.”

One of her more unique and artistic videos, “The ‘Perfect’ Body” responded to the increasing number of negative comments on her channel. The video shows her happily looking at her body in a mirror before scrolling through positive comments from POPsters on YouTube.

Her attitude changes toward her body once she comes across some cruel comments, and she begins to alter her reflection in the mirror, as if she is photoshopping herself in real life.

She flattens her stomach and widens her hips for an hourglass figure. Then she makes her breasts and butt larger, while making her arms and legs slimmer. She also changes her eye color. After all these alterations, she still looks unsatisfied as she takes a selfie in the mirror. At the end of the video, she asks viewers, “What would you change?”

The POP Pilates and Blogilates community spread the video around the internet in an effort to battle body shaming and cyberbullying, and it went viral.

Her compassion toward her viewers struggling with body dysmorphia, eating disorders and negative thoughts towards their own bodies originates from her own experience. In 2016, Ho shared her experience with an eating disorder after rigorous training and dieting for a bikini competition in her video, “Why I will NEVER DIET Again.”

Ho says that she was sucked into a world of vanity, exercising to look a certain way rather than to feel good. She worked with a trainer that had her exercising for four hours and eating less than 1,000 calories a day.

After losing all the weight for the competition, she still was not happy with her body. When the spotlights went out, she wiped her make up off, and the competition was all over, but she continued to have an unhealthy view toward eating and exercising.

In response to an overwhelming amount of POPsters going through the same or similar things that she went through, Ho made a follow-up video, “Shocking thoughts I had about my body,” to share more about her eating disorder and how she worked to change her mindset.

“I no longer focused on the vanity and getting flatter abs and skinnier arms,” Ho says. “I just focused on having fun when I was working out and actually improving my skill, improving my speed, improving the amount of weight I could lift. And you know what? Everything else fell into place.”

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Have you ever compared yourself to old photos of yourself and wished you were as “fat” as when you thought you were fat when you really weren’t fat at all!? . Listened to a podcast about comparison, and it blew my mind. We all know that “comparison is the thief of joy.” But, did you know that there are types of comparisons – and that they can be used to our advantage? . There’s “upward comparison” and “downward comparison”. To better understand this, imagine you’re trying to lose weight. If you compare up, you compare yourself to a person who’s lost more weight than you in a shorter amount of time. This might make you feel bad about yourself. If you compare down, you compare yourself to someone who is having a really hard time sticking to her diet and actually gaining weight. This might make you feel better about yourself. . Instead of trying to avoid comparison all together (because we’re humans and we’re going to do it anyway) COMPARE STRATEGICALLY for your advantage! It’s all mindset. . When you want to accomplish more, compare up. You don’t have to feel bad when you compare up to people who are “better than you.” I want you to compare up and use them as your driving force to reach your goals! . When you feel you’ve failed, go ahead and compare down. (Yes, others do actually have it worse than you!) This downward comparison can help you find gratefulness, which honestly, we all need more of. . In this age of ultimate outward comparison (thanks social media), when you can’t avoid it, USE IT. . So what about me and the photos? Honestly, I used to feel really bad about not being as lean as I was in 2012. But then I remember back to how mean I was to the people that loved me because I was always hangry! So, I’m grateful to have a little extra weight on me and carry on as a full functional person who is happy. #blogilates

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Ho wants her viewers to have fun with the exercises she teaches, or at least have fun with whatever exercise they choose to do, so that it’s not about wanting to look a certain way. And this message is reflected in many of her fitness videos when she tells her audience to “Enjoy your fitness journey.”

In a later video that she produced tackling perfectionism, titled “STOP trying to be perfect!” Ho tackles how she stopped being a perfectionist by changing her focus from being perfect to being the best version of herself.

“If you think that your life is going to change or you’re going to be so much happier when you’re skinnier, it’s not about that,” the Asian American fitness guru says. “It’s about being better and being stronger. And your body is simply a result of fighting for the right thing, which is balance.”

Although she has not posted anymore videos solely on body positivity since then, she still inspires her viewers by giving advice during her fitness videos, creating workout calendars for them to follow and sharing her own personal journey with health from which they can learn.

“I want you to strive to be the best you can be, but don’t strive for perfection because it doesn’t really exist,” Ho says.

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