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.
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.”
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.