Though I hadn't discovered Ho's "What Makes You Bootyful Butt Challenge" until my senior year of college, it's fair to say that after stumbling upon her work in 2012, I've had my butt kicked with almost every workout she's published since.
However, the California native has not only changed my life but has also impacted women across the nation since her first YouTube upload in 2009. As the founder of POP Pilates — the concept of meshing together both pop music and Pilates for an upbeat workout — Ho has made a name for herself in the world of health and fitness with over 2 million YouTube subscribers and over 170,000 Twitter followers. The Pilates instructor is widely recognized for her positive, can-do attitude and the uncanny ability to make even the most grueling routines seem entertaining. From the "Lower Belly Flattener" to her "Butt Lift & Slim Thighs" video, Ho manages to complete her intense workouts with a smile on her face the entire time.
Life Before Blogilates & YouTube
With all that she's accomplished thus far, it's difficult to imagine Ho ever being anything but the peppy, fit woman that she is today. Yet long before her fitness journey began, Ho was struggling with body image issues of her own when she was a child.
"I was bullied when I was younger because I was chubby and my last name was Ho," the fitness instructor says of her past. "I didn’t know what a 'ho' was so that was really messed up. I was also the smart kid, so I would always raise my hand and people thought it was annoying."
Noting how unpleasant the experience was and that she'll never forget it, Ho's childhood wasn't much different from that of many of her fans who endured the wrath of bullies during their pre-pubescent years.
"Sometimes kids are just mean and there’s no sense of being politically correct or questioning their words," Ho says. "It just is, and you have to learn how to be bigger and better from it."
Quoting Taylor Swift's song lyrics, "Cause, baby, I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me," Ho admits that while the bullying was tough, she used it as a learning experience and grew from it. Eventually, Ho began to naturally thin out as she got older, and by 16 she was entering a beauty pageant and discovering new ways to get in shape. In fact, it was all thanks to an infomercial for a Mari Winsor Pilates DVD that she finally fell in love with Pilates and became inspired by workout videos. Just four years later, when she was a sophomore at Whittier College, Ho applied to a position as a Pilates instructor at a studio right down the street from her dorm.
"Because of that one gym owner that believed in me or at least believed in me for that time slot of a class, it grew into everything else," Ho says.
Making a Change & Pursuing a Dream
That's no exaggeration. Initially attending university to use her biology degree toward a future in medicine, Ho's career path drastically changed after she launched oGorgeous during her senior year, creating the Beverly Bowtie Yoga Bag, which was featured in SHAPE Magazine and "The Wendy Williams Show." After several months as a fashion buyer post-graduation, Ho later recognized her true calling for fitness and entrepreneurship, quitting her job to become a full-time Pilates instructor and continuing with her YouTube videos. Although both her decisions to be a fashion buyer and then to ultimately pursue a Pilates career was a point of contention with her parents who wanted her to be a doctor, Ho pursued her dream, creating the empire that she has today. Now her parents are fully supportive, and the attention she receives from her adoring fans just proves she made the right move.
"I first discovered Blogilates by searching on YouTube for workouts that I could do in my home, with little to no equipment," Sarah Grace Clark, a fellow POPster, says. "Once the YouTube videos led me to her blog, I was hooked. Not only does [Cassey] have amazing workout videos, but she has great recipes and meal plans to help girls get into shape."
It's feedback like this that keeps Ho going even during the worst of weeks. Despite what fans might believe after seeing how cheerful and optimistic she is in her videos, Ho has bad days just like the rest of us.
"It might be safe to say that this is one of the most intense weeks of my life so far," Ho said when I spoke with her. "I actually had a breakdown twice already."
Finding Motivation From Her POPsters
Certainly not the first time Ho has experienced the stress from all her responsibilities, she admits that she works hard, always pushing herself and even staying up until 4 a.m. some days to get everything done. With her Pilates classes, filming videos, attending meetups, and everything else she has on her plate, the pressure can definitely get to her. After all, she's only human. Yet while she sometimes gets upset with herself for letting the chaos in her life escalate, Ho says that at the end of the day, she's so grateful for everything and would rather continue with the hectic life she leads than ever giving up Blogilates.
"It's the fans; I do everything for them," Ho says. "I really work to serve them, because they're the community. They're the ones who have pushed Blogilates to where it is and honestly it’s really fun and I'm living my dream. I get to work out, I get to work with really cool people, I get to be creative, and I get to design. Things that people thought I couldn’t do and I'm doing it."
And POPsters like myself are glad that she's part of our lives, even if across the country or the world. Thanks to her videos Ho just feels like a gym buddy simply motivating a friend (her fans) to push through the burn both in fitness and in life.
"It’s hard to beat Cassey’s bubbly personality," Clark says. "She's so full of encouragement that you really don’t want to let her down when you're working out. Even if other trainers were to use her fitness methods, you can't replicate her attitude and the way she really wants to be everyone’s personal trainer and mentor."
What's your favorite Blogilates workout? Tweet us @wewomenUSA!
This article was written by Emma Goddard. Follow her on Twitter @egoddardhokie.
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