The Oracle: What was your inspiration for the pop- blogilates account?
Ainsley Roh: We followed this fitness person named Cassey Ho on YouTube.
Nicole Nemychenkov: When I was younger I used to do a lot of sports, but as I got older I stopped. Ainsley introduced me to Cassey—Blogilates. We first just started doing her YouTube videos, and then she started her Instagram monthly challenges. We decided that instead of doing them on our personal Instagram accounts, we’d make a separate account and do the challenges there. Our first main expansion was when the official poppilates account reposted one of our pictures and that got us a lot of followers.
TO: What are some of the challenges that you participate in?
AR: There’s a lot of flexibility challenges. There was one called Journey to Splits that helped you improve your splits. The Journey To
Splits challenge was started to help popsters get into the splits in just one month. Although this challenge requires a lot of dedication, it was very rewarding. Increasing your flexibility takes time, but surprisingly, we improved a lot, and surpassed our expectations for the month. The stretches were hard and took practice, but in the end, we were able to get them.
NN: There was a certain pose for each day, and each day you would post that pose along with a caption. You would be following a whole bunch of other people with accounts like that so there would be a whole com- munity of people all posting the same thing and all on this journey together.
TO: How would you put your goal into words? NN: If we’re not doing one of the Instagram challenges, we post if we do any runs or specific foods to just tell people. If they’re informing us about their fitness, then we tell them too.
AR: We’re just trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, help others achieve the same thing and have fun. Our account is mainly about fitness, and through fitness, if we’re able to inspire others, that’s what makes us happiest.
TO: What was your favorite challenge?
AR: The first monthly challenge, the Stretch Project, was fun—it was the first one, we were just getting started and there was a lot of motivation. Cassey created this month-long challenge to do something fun and different. She wanted people to focus on flexibility because it prevents injury and helps you sculpt a better posture. She also said that you can get into “more in- tense workouts when your movement is not restricted.”
TO: How do you think fitness blogging has made you more conscious of your choices?
AR: I think that when we do an activity—like some- times we go for runs, we did a 5km—I don’t think we would have done that before.
NN: We’re more open to trying new things. Earlier, we would have said no running, but now we want to try it. There are other people who we follow who are way more healthy, and they’re coaches or personal trainers and they post all the time about they’re do- ing, so we say, “Maybe we could try that workout.” The awesome thing about the challenges and the Instagram accounts are that everyone really came together, and we all saw each other’s fitness journeys along the way. We were all in different places; it ranged from competi- tive gymnasts to stay-at-home moms. And the challenges were hard for everyone in a different way, but we all worked hard to complete them and improve our fitness, flexibility or whatever else. Before, we all knew that there were other people work- ing out and following Cassey’s program but we never interacted with each other. Getting out there and exercising is a lot easier with a community or even a friend, and it’s often hard to do on your own.
TO: What would your message be to the Gunn community about what you’ve learned from this?
NN: I feel like it’s “don’t be afraid to try new things.” Personally, with fitness, I didn’t think I would have anything to do with it later on in my life, but I tried it. Especially if you do it with a friend, it’s way more fun, and when you have that community that’s sup- porting you, you know that you’re not alone and you’re not the only one that’s struggling with it.
AR: It’s just trying to be healthier and eat healthier and feel better about yourself. I know that if I eat a bunch of bad food and don’t exercise, I’ll feel gross for the rest of the day until I do something active. I am a competitive soccer player, but I quit for a little bit, so that was definitely miss- ing from my life. With doing the account, fitness and exercise definitely have become a larger part of my life again, and that makes me a lot happier. It can be hard to be motivated, but while running the account, there’s the motivation to post and stay on top of the calendar, because you do have other people watching you, as well as motivating you. And even while it can be hard to get started, I think you always feel better after a workout. Exercise is important, not only to stay in shape and be healthier, but it also helps relieve stress and maintain happiness.
Exclusive Online Extension: Workout Calendars
Every month Cassey posts a new workout calendar. There is a normal calendar, as well as a beginners. Each day of the week has a specific theme. For example, in February, Mondays are “Strong Arms,” Tuesdays are “cardio core,” and Saturdays are “total body torture.” There are four to five videos everyday that Cassey recommends to work on those specific parts of your body. Many of the workouts are incredibly difficult, and sometimes we can’t finish them all, or do every exercise in each video. However, the important thing, is to do your best and push yourself to improve. It’s amazing to do a video, and not be able to do half the exercises at the beginning of the month, but when you do the same video at the end of the month, be able to finish it. Of course, sometimes it can take a couple of months, or even a year or two to be able to accomplish something like that, but the small victories, and the small improvements are what keep you going. Another thing that makes working out more enjoyable, is learning how to enjoy the pain that comes with exercise. One of Cassey’s quotes is “sore today, strong tomorrow”, we have learned to welcome to pain of soreness, because to us it means improvement. During a workout we will continue to push through the hard parts, because we know that when we’re finished we will feel more accomplished, proud, and happy with what we achieved.