"No matter what your dream or your mission is, never let who you are stand in the way," Cassey Ho said, addressing fellow Asian American women. This isn't just an idle admonition — the daughter of Vietnamese-Chinese immigrants, Ho is an award-winning fitness instructor and entrepreneur. According to the "About Cassey" page on her blog, Ho's YouTube channel, Blogilates, has "over 500 million video views and 4 million subscribers."
If you've ever done one of Ho's workouts, you will know that her bubbly personality belies an incredibly challenging workout that — if you're a beginner — will leave you sore for days. Ho's workouts are Pilates-style, but instead of using classical music in the background like traditional Pilates workouts do, she uses pop music instead.
Ho has an interesting background, though, as her parents are immigrants who left Vietnam during the Vietnam war. Her mom escaped to Canada on a boat, while her dad went to California to study. Growing up, Ho sometimes felt like she was different from other kids. "My lunches required chopsticks instead of forks or included rice instead of bread," she explained to PopSugar.
Ho's parents, however, worked hard to ensure that Ho was proud of her Vietnamese Chinese background. For example, they took her and her sister to Vietnam when they were young and enrolled her in Vietnamese cultural activities. In the end, her parents' efforts paid off. "I soon came to learn that my culture was one of the best parts of my identity," Ho revealed.
Last year, Ho launched a line at Target. At first, she and her team disagreed over whether or not to put her photo on the product packaging — Ho worried that her products might not sell. "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 told PopSugar.
Then, Ho realized two things about having her face on the product packaging: she is proud of her Vietnamese-Chinese heritage, and this was a great opportunity to "represent the Asian American community." As it turns out, Ho's decision was a big encouragement to many Asian Americans. She received a lot of messages after her product launched, and people told her they felt inspired to "see someone who looked like them on the shelves."
Ho wants her workout videos to help young women care for and appreciate their bodies — and she wants their fitness journey to be fun, too.
"It is my mission to help people find joy through fitness and, through that, find joy in who they are," she said.
As for Ho's message to other Asian American women? "No matter what your dream or your mission is, never let who you are stand in the way. Who you are should be the thing you wear proudly. Use your story, your history, and your background to let yourself shine," she said.