UP CLOSE WITH CASSEY

Youtube star Cassey Ho shares her se­crets to keep­ing sane when so much of her life is on so­cial me­dia. Plus, check out her 28-minute core-sculpt­ing work­out.

Shape (Singapore) - - Contents - BY DAWN CHEN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY FRENCHESCAR LIM

It started as a one-woman show in 2009. Then, Cassey Ho (@blogi­lates) was just a pas­sion­ate cer­ti­fied pi­lates in­struc­tor who shot and edited videos of her rou­tines for her stu­dents to fol­low on Youtube.

Now, the Blogi­lates team has grown to be­come 12-peo­ple strong and Cassey reaches an au­di­ence of over 6.5 mil­lion sub­scribers and fol­low­ers across var­i­ous so­cial me­dia chan­nels. Her Pop Pi­lates work­outs alone are taught in over 3,000 classes world­wide each month.

Los An­ge­les-based Cassey was in Sin­ga­pore re­cently as part of the in­au­gu­ral Fit­ness­fest 2017. De­spite the swel­ter­ing heat, the crowd turned up in full force to get a first-hand taste of her work­outs.

With a fol­low­ing as im­pres­sive as hers, you’d think it’d be easy for her to get swept up in the fame and pop­u­lar­ity of so­cial me­dia. But when we met for our cover shoot later in the day, there were ab­so­lutely no airs about her. Cassey is gen­uinely one of the most down-to-earth per­son­al­i­ties we’ve met.

Here’s how she keeps things real.

Don’tl et so­cial me­dia de­fine you

While Cassey loves how In­sta­gram or Youtube can be a way to spark con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple from all over the world, she also hates how it can just as eas­ily be an av­enue to breed mind­less nar­cis­sism.

For her, pho­tos and videos are a way to tell a story that oth­ers can learn or grow from. The drive to lead by ex­am­ple and in­spire her fol­low­ers is also the rea­son you won’t catch her feed fill­ing up with gra­tu­itous self­ies.

“I don’t just do self­ies,” she says. “Ev­ery time I post any con­tent, I’m al­ways mind­ful that it should be some­thing that helps some­body. So­cial me­dia is sim­ply a plat­form for me to share my work­outs, my recipes and my thoughts. My con­tent has never been van­ity-driven, and I don’t let the plat­form con­trol me.”

Learn to switch off

Through­out the prepa­ra­tion and shoot, Cassey didn’t stay glued to her phone even though the dig­i­tal do­main is her play­ground. Con­tent cre­ation is so much a part of her life, but she still strikes a bal­ance be­tween reel life and real life. “I try to live in the mo­ment,” she says.

We’ve all been there and done that: When a de­li­cious plate of food is in front of you, do you need to Snapchat or In­sta­gram it first or do you just tuck right in and en­joy?

“It gets a bit ridicu­lous,” says Cassey, who ad­mits she isn’t as ac­tive in doc­u­ment­ing ev­ery mo­ment of her life the way other in­flu­encers might. “I don’t like to broad­cast my life like a full-on re­al­ity TV show. If I did that, I would feel like I was per­form­ing the whole time. I choose to keep parts of my life pri­vate to re­main au­then­tic to those I care about most.”

Fil­ter out the hate

Be­ing in the pub­lic eye def­i­nitely comes with its share of trolls, and be­ing a fit­ness in­struc­tor means that peo­ple tend to be even more crit­i­cal of your body. “As a hu­man be­ing – and an emo­tional and pas­sion­ate per­son – yes, I am af­fected by neg­a­tive com­ments. But how much it af­fects me has di­min­ished over the years,” says Cassey.

“I’ve come to re­alise that a per­son’s mean com­ment has a lot more to do with them than it has to do with me. So if I can’t learn any­thing from those re­marks, I choose not to let them bother me.” In­stead, Cassey looks out for con­struc­tive crit­i­cism in the com­ments and turns them into mo­ti­va­tion to make her­self stronger and smarter.

Knowyour­self

When it comes to fit­ness, al­ways be sure to lis­ten to your body. Back in early 2016, Cassey came clean about an eat­ing dis­or­der she de­vel­oped four years prior. While train­ing for a bikini com­pe­ti­tion then, she sub­jected her body to an im­mensely strict diet on top of work­ing out around four hours daily.

On the day be­fore the com­pe­ti­tion, her trainer wanted her to lose as much wa­ter weight as pos­si­ble so that her mus­cles would show bet­ter the next day. He asked her to take di­uretic pills, go to the sauna for an hour, do an ex­tra hour of car­dio on top of her reg­u­lar work­outs, all the while drink­ing only 240ml to 480ml of wa­ter the whole day. “I did ev­ery­thing he asked ex­cept for the pills be­cause I al­ready felt like I was go­ing to die,” she says.

That episode birthed an un­healthy re­la­tion­ship with food that lasted a few years. She fi­nally broke the cy­cle by first ad­mit­ting that she had a prob­lem, and al­low­ing her­self to slowly recog­nise that food was fuel and not the en­emy. “It took time to break out of that ‘food jail’, but once I freed my­self of re­stric­tion, I re­gained con­trol of my eat­ing habits,” she says, adding that she would never diet again.

“Eat to feel your most en­er­getic and most at peace. It takes a lot of trial and er­ror to fig­ure out what that means, but eat some­thing that makes you feel good in the long run, not just be­cause it’ll make you look good in the short run.”

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