Blogilates Creator Cassey Ho on Following Your Dreams: "Never Let Who You Are Stand in the Way"
Blogilates creator Cassey Ho wasn't always famous for Pilates: she started off playing tennis at a young age, and her dad was her coach, so naturally, she loved to move. In high school, Ho was preparing for a pageant and found Pilates because she'd seen the Mari Winsor Pilates DVDs. "I begged my mom to get it for me! I was amazed at how graceful and strong everyone was in these videos, and I wanted to be just like them," Ho told POPSUGAR.
She practiced every single day after school and found herself so obsessed with this newfound way of movement. At first, she'd be so sore after each workout, but then she felt herself become strong. That's when she got really hooked. Ho started teaching Pilates in college when a local studio helped her get her certification and offered her the opportunity to teach. That started it all, but her path to fitness fandom wasn't always easy. Keep reading to learn about her experience being Vietnamese Chinese and how she learned to see her culture as one of the best parts of her identity.
Ho's Family History
Ho was born in LA and grew up there for the earlier part of her life and then moved to the Bay Area when she was in elementary school. Her parents both grew up in Vietnam, but during the height of the Vietnam War, her mom escaped to Canada on a boat, and her dad came to study abroad in California.
"Sometimes I can't believe that my parents had such a crazy, life-changing experience while they were still so young. They are the bravest, strongest, and most courageous people I know," Ho said.
What It Was Like For Ho Growing Up Vietnamese Chinese American
"My parents always did a wonderful job at making sure I was proud of my Vietnamese Chinese background," Ho shared. They enrolled her in a Vietnamese cultural dance group, encouraged her to lead the Vietnamese Student Association in high school, and took her and her sister back to Vietnam a few times so they could be around her extended family.
Ho always understood the importance of her culture and learned to embrace it. "There were times I felt different from the other kids at school because my lunches required chopsticks instead of forks or included rice instead of bread," she said. Internally, Ho often struggled with being different and standing out, but she said, "I soon came to learn that my culture was one of the best parts of my identity."
The Obstacles Ho Faced During Her Fitness Career
When Ho's line at Target launched late last year, she and her team kept disagreeing on one critical thing: they kept insisting that her picture should be on all the product packaging, but Ho kept saying no. "I didn't want it on there," Ho said. "I didn't want people to come to Target, see my picture, and not buy it because of what I looked like. I didn't look like the other people in the fitness section with blond hair, blue eyes, or fair skin."
She thought, "Would the fact that I was Asian drop sales? And if sales were dropped, well, there would go my big dream." But Ho finally realized that she needed to stop fighting herself, because the truth is that she was, and is, proud to be Vietnamese Chinese.
Being on the packaging of her products was her "chance to represent the Asian American community," she said, so she went for it. After the launch, Ho got so many messages from people feeling inspired to see someone who looked like them on shelves. They didn't know how much it meant to them until they saw it — that alone made it all worth it, Ho said.
How Ho Hopes to Be a Role Model For Young Women and Their Bodies
"I want young women to learn to appreciate their bodies," Ho said. Instead of spending every waking minute stressing about how they should look, she wants them to remember that bodies are made to move and help them live. It's our job to nourish it, move it, and take care of it. Everyone will have a different journey, but no matter what journey they go through, she wants them to remember that foundational fact. She said, "It is my mission to help people find joy through fitness and, through that, find joy in who they are."
Ho's Advice For Other Asian American Women
"No matter what your dream or your mission is, never let who you are stand in the way," Ho said. "Who you are should be the thing you wear proudly. Use your story, your history, and your background to let yourself shine."