Brightly colored yoga mats dotted the gray of the Cross Campus steps Saturday afternoon, as fitness phenom and CEO of Blogilates Cassey Ho taught a Pilates class to a crowd of 75 students.
Blogilates, a fitness brand encompassing Pilates programs, Ho’s healthy living blog and her self-designed “oGorgeous” yoga bag, has 3 million followers on its website. Saturday’s event was sponsored by healthyU, an undergraduate group dedicated to promoting health and wellness on campus, and the leaders of the Happiness Challenge at Yale, an eight-week series of activities promoting mindfulness and healthy behavior. The outdoor fitness class, which involved blaring music and drew a crowd of spectators, followed Ho’s “PIIT28” program, named for its Pilates Intense Interval Training, a 28-day schedule of 28-minute workouts and healthy meals. After the class, Ho gave a speech in Linsley-Chittenden Hall.
When Ho arrived to LC and asked members of the primarily female audience how they were feeling, she received a chorus of enthusiastic responses. The audience also agreed, when Ho asked, that squats were the most difficult part of the program. In her talk, Ho described how she became involved with Pilates and how she built up her brand.
“You may not even be sure what you want to do or where you’re supposed to be or what your purpose is, and I hope my story will inspire you to find what that true passion is inside of you,” Ho said.
Ho described how she began learning Pilates as a sophomore in high school as an alternative to tennis. She preferred Pilates’s emphasis on competition against oneself, rather than against others. When she went to college at Whittier, her parents wanted her to go to medical school, but she instead wanted to pursue a career in fashion.
During her college years, Ho also began teaching Pilates classes. She uploaded her first fitness video to YouTube in 2009 when she left California for a fashion buying job in Boston. This move led to significant disagreement with her parents — they did not speak for three years.
After one of the yoga bags she had designed appeared in the magazine “SHAPE,” Ho quit her job to focus on her brand. In 2015, 24 Hour Fitness clubs introduced Ho’s POP Pilates program, a “combination of total body Pilates exercises with the attitude of choreographed dance and the energy of music,” as their official Pilates program.
Ho said she supports the implementation of her online program into an offline format.
“Even though a lot of Blogilates is online, my goal is to bring everyone offline, into real life, like we did today,” Ho said. “I really do believe there’s nothing that can replace that feeling you have when you’re around other people, sweating together, cheering each other on, high-fiving people you don’t know. It’s kind of scary but it’s kind of cool, and you end up working a lot harder.”
Connecticut resident Audrey Lawrence, who has been doing the Blogilates program for a year, said she enjoyed the experience of taking an in-person class instructed by Ho.
“I think I like Pilates so much because it’s very individual,” Lawrence said. “You compete against yourself every day.”
Alyssa Chen ’18 and Ivy Ren ’18, co-presidents of healthyU and co-coordinators of the Happiness Challenge at Yale, and Julia Shan ’18, the healthyU event coordinator, said the class and speech were successful.
“Some people came out all the way from New Jersey, just to get the chance to meet Cassey and work out with her,” said Wendy Sun ’18, president of healthyU and co-coordinator of the Happiness Challenge at Yale.
Shan said the event was helped by its location on Cross Campus, where spectators could watch the fitness class. She added that seeing Ho’s energy made everyone work harder.
“The event basically went flawlessly,” Ren said. “I think it was great not only to have so many people from so many different areas come, but also just being on Cross Campus and having so many people watch us … was a great image for Yale as well.”
Ho has about 3 million followers on YouTube.