Pop Pilates founder Cassey Ho (Blogilates) shares her exercise, diet and health tips, plus her take on fitness trends and more. By Gurveen Kaur
Photo: The Straits Times / Photo courtesy of Cassey Ho, who also created Pop Pilates and Blogilates
American YouTube fitness star Cassey Ho does not like the term "cheat day". "Cheat day has such a negative connotation to it and I never want to feel guilty about eating something - especially something that I enjoy," the bubbly certified fitness instructor tells The Straits Times. Instead, she has a YOLO (You Only Live Once) meal once a week.
The bachelorette, a Vietnamese- American who is based in Los Angeles, is visiting Singapore for the first time to conduct a Pop Pilates (pilates choreographed to catchy pop music) session at fitness festival Zespri SunGold Kiwifest on Sunday. Held at the Empress Lawn, the event will also feature a Vinyasa-style yoga class, music by local indie-rock quintet Take Two and bites made with Zespri's SunGold Kiwifruit.
One of the fitness pioneers on YouTube, Cassey's channel Blogilates is the top female fitness page. She has amassed more than three million subscribers and close to 340 million views since starting the channel in 2009. The creator of Pop Pilates has since written an exercise and nutrition guide, launched an activewear line and created a new pilates intense interval training workout called PIIT28.
Not bad for a 29-year-old who started her YouTube channel as a platform for her students to watch her workout videos because she was moving across the country. She says: "I never imagined that it would gain that much attention and inspire millions of subscribers from across the globe to keep fit." She is intent on maintaining a close connection with her subscribers, or Popsters, as she fondly calls them.
When she is not busy making videos for her channel, she travels to gyms and events worldwide to conduct live Pop Pilates classes. "I want my Popsters to feel like they are working out with a friend," she says.
1. You were one of the first fitness YouTubers and now there are several others. What do you think is the appeal of such fitness videos?
Working out in front of people can be quite intimidating, but there are no barriers to getting fit when you are sweating it out in the comfort of your own home. Plus, it's free.
2. Do you get negative comments online? How do you respond?
Cyber-bullying affects me, just like it affects anyone else. However, I do my best to ignore negative comments and continue to serve my audience with quality content and love.
Blogilates is about spreading positivity and we don't have time to focus on the hate and negativity now, do we?
3. What advice would you give a person who wants to get healthier and fitter?
Nutrition and eating a healthy diet are essential. Food is what fuels your day and gives you energy to be active. Try to eat whole foods that are unprocessed - real food from the earth. Drink lots of water because it keeps you hydrated, energised and helps to clear your skin.
As far as fitness goes, find a workout that you can fall in love with. That is how you will stick to your routine.
4. What is one myth about diets that you hope to dispel?
I wish people would stop buying into crazy diet fads that, more often than not, give you only short-term physical results. Think long-term and find a healthy and balanced diet that makes you feel good and happy.
5. What do you make of the various fitness trends, such as CrossFit, that pop up every few months?
I think it's great. There needs to be a variety of ways for people to stay active because it is quite easy to get bored and unmotivated with the same workout routine. The more creative outlets there are to fitness, the more opportunities people have to find one that resonates with them.
6. Who are your favourite YouTubers?
I'm a big fan of musicians Sam Tsui and Kurt Hugo Schneider - I love their jam. Also, comedians Ryan Higa and Grace Helbig.
7. If you weren't a YouTuber, what career path would you consider?
8. How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered for making people feel good about themselves. It is my duty to help people find their own potential.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline 'Making fitness go Pop'.