When she graduated from college, fitness enthusiast Cassey Ho was excited to make the move from L.A. to Boston to start a job as a full-time fashion buyer. What she was less than thrilled about, though, was leaving behind the students that she’d been teaching Pilates to part-time. To help keep her instruction alive even after she was gone, Ho decided to post a Pilates video online for her students to do in her absence. Fast forward eight years, and Ho’s first YouTube video has since blossomed into an insanely popular YouTube channel and a first-of-its-kind Pilates experience, POP Pilates, where the traditional workout is infused with pop music for a totally different approach to your fitness. Here, we chat with Ho about how it all started, and what it’s been like to see her fitness vision take off the way that it has.
When was it that you first got into fitness? What drew you to it?
Pilates was something I picked up when I was 16 and signed up for a pageant. I wanted to tone up so I began doing Mari Winsor Pilates DVDs and I became hooked! It strengthened my core like crazy! Then, in college, Pilates really became my rock. I would do Pilates between classes and on weekends to de-stress, and even encouraged my friends to join me in the dorm lounge. I just loved it.
How is POP Pilates different from regular Pilates?
POP Pilates is choreographed to Top 40 music. It’s like a dance on the mat; you move with the beat of the music. It’s upbeat and pretty sassy! It’s impossible to leave a class without feeling amazing – and super sweaty.
How did the concept come about?
I loved Pilates, but I wanted to spice it up. I also had a passion for pop music. So I thought, why not combine the two to make the workout more interesting and fun.
Your workouts have become a major hit thanks to the success of your YouTube channel. When did you first decide to post a workout video to YouTube, and what was your motivation behind that?
After graduating from college, I was moving to the East Coast, but before I left, I wanted to leave my Pilates students a workout video so we could still workout “together” even if it wasn’t in the same room. So, I uploaded a total body Pilates video to YouTube.
Now your workout videos and your channel, Blogilates, have become such a hit amongst a huge range of fitness enthusiasts (even Taylor Swift is a fan!). What has it been like for you to see that kind of positive reception and to watch the channel grow the way that it has?
I never imagined that uploading one little Pilates YouTube video would turn into the magic of Blogilates and POP Pilates! I am so grateful that millions of people worldwide do my workouts online. Together we have created this amazing health and fitness community. And now it’s even turned into a group fitness format that you can do at local gyms. It’s amazing and I will never take it for granted.
What are some things that you keep in mind when developing a new workout video or routine?
I want my workouts to be fun, innovative and effective. I’m always reading comments on YouTube and Instagram to see what type of workout my POPsters want next.
What have been some of your most popular videos?
My post popular video is “The Perfect Body” which isn’t a workout video, but more of a response to people who bully others online. For a while I was getting really negative comments directed towards my appearance, so I decided to fight back. The video has over 10 million views. My second most viewed video is one that was made in 2011. It’s “POP Pilates for Beginners – Total Body Workout.”
Do you think that YouTube has changed the way that people workout? How so?
YouTube has given people the opportunity to workout at home. You don’t have to pay for a gym membership or even leave your house to get a good sweat on.
Since launching your YouTube channel, you’ve been involved in a ton of incredible projects (your own activewear line, teaching fitness classes all over the world, a partnership with 24 Hour Fitness, etc.). What has been one of the most exciting parts of the whole journey for you?
Throughout it all – fitness, workouts, traveling, designing clothes, learning how to run and manage my own business – the most exciting thing is meeting people all over the world whose lives have been changed because of Blogilates. That is what inspires me to keep going – to continue to film workouts, create choreography and design clothes. That is what makes the journey so rewarding.
Is there something that you would still really love to tackle – either a particular project, or even just a kind of workout video – that you haven’t gotten around to yet?
I would love for my clothing line, POPFLEX to be sold in stores. I want people to experience trying on the pieces before buying them. My ultimate dream is for people to touch and feel the clothing before purchasing it.
What do you think it is that has made POP Pilates such a sensation? What do you think it brings to the fitness world that might have been lacking a bit before?
POP Pilates is more than just a workout – it is a community of likeminded people who are motivated to reach their goals and achieve their dreams (fitness-related or not). Together we motivate and inspire each other. And we do this through social media. POP has created friendships through Instagram that will last a lifetime. The bond between POPsters and POP instructors in unreal. POP has a priority of being about good vibes only. We are a positive community and that is what makes it so special.