As Kayla Itsines and her ilk have proven, star trainers are no longer just born in the gym—they’re also made on social media.
But well before the #BBG squad took over Instagram, there was Youtube sensation Cassey Ho, creator of six-year-old online fitness brand Blogilates. One of the original wellness stars in the digital space, the Los Angeles-based Ho has just added another first to her sweat-packed resume—starting this week, 24 Hour Fitness will offer a 55-minute class based on her wildly successful POP Pilates method at its 400-plus U.S. locations.
Although neither Ho nor 24 Hour Fitness are spilling financials or other terms of the deal, it’s most likely a big one—after all, the Blogilates YouTube channel has 2.5 million subscribers and 250 million video views, and its creator manages to draw upwards of 500 people to each of the live workouts that she hosts several times a year.
POP Pilates classes at 24 Hour Fitness are considerably longer than Ho’s standard five- to 10-minute YouTube videos; the average session consists of 13 mat Pilates sequences with an accompanying top 40 pop track, each one focusing on a different body part. (It’s a killer—I tried it.)
“The power of the [Blogilates] community is what brought 24 Hour Fitness to me,” the super spunky Ho told me at the POP Pilates launch event at 24 Hour Fitness in West Hollywood. “It’s a perfect partnership, because 24 is affordable and it’s everywhere. Plus, it was one of the first gyms I started working at back in college, so it’s come full circle!”
Ho’s journey from then to now is the stuff of internet celebrity legend—the certified Pilates instructor created POP Pilates in 2009 while teaching at a studio in LA, and, after moving to Boston for a job as a fashion buyer, started posting 10-minute workouts on YouTube for a group of her former clients.
The online fitness world was a much less saturated space back then, and she quickly gained thousands upon thousands of followers captivated by her bubbly persona and her signature method, in which mat Pilates moves are choreographed in time with upbeat pop tunes (she likens it to “a dance on the mat”).
Whether Ho’s massive “POP Army” will spring for gym memberships when they’re used to getting her content for free—especially since she’s not the one teaching the classes—remains to be seen. But there’s no question that the fun and engaging class is a win for 24 Hour Fitness’ group fitness program—and could point to the first of many link-ups between influential digital fitness trainers and big gym franchises to come. (Take notes, Kayla.) —Erin Magner
(Photos: POP Pilates)