Comparing Female Bodies – is there one perfect shape?

women's bodies

click to enlarge

Hey guys!

Yesterday on Facebook when I posted this photo of female athlete body types, you guys had such a passionate response that I wanted to expand on it here today on the blog. The photos were taken by photographer Howard Schutz who interviewed hundreds of professional athletes at their physical peak. He was interested in seeing their musculoskeletal differences.

As you can see every woman here is shaped differently based on the sport she is involved in. All are fit and excel at their profession, but there is no perfect structure or perfect body type. The body type achieved is a result of her practice. The focus is to win the game and be better, faster, and stronger than your competitor. And to beat your personal record from last year.

The fitness world, or the commercial fitness world differs in that we are all so focused on looks, looks, LOOKS! How to get a six pack. How to get an inner thigh gap. How to get rid of muffintops. And you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that initially. If vanity is what first drives you to pay attention to your health, so be it. But it is important to note that vanity will not stay with you in the long haul. It is also not enough to make you stick to your goals. It is too superficial. Dig deeper and find the fire that fuels your drive. Is it to get more energy? Is it live happier? Become more confident? Be a role model?

If you are on a fitness journey to lose 20 lbs, take the focus away from losing that 1 or 2 lbs a week. Instead, put the focus into becoming the best dancer in your cardio dance class or improving speed and stamina on your run. You know what will happen? Your pounds will shed anyway. They always say that the moment you stop searching for something, it appears. This is the same. Stop waiting for the numbers to drop. Put the energy into improving yourself!

I always related this to finding a job you love vs. making money. If you slave away at your job just for the purpose of making money to buy things, what has happened to your life? Your job is at least 8 hrs of you day, you will HATE a majority of your life! If you find a job you LOVE and work at it for 10-12 hrs a day or more and make menial amounts of money, then you are happy for a majority of the day…so a majority of your life. But guess what? It doesn’t stop there. When you put your heart out there and do what you truly were meant to do, and are passionate, it all comes back to you. Your talent will be noticed. You’ll get a promotion. You’ll start your own business. The money will pour in.

So same with working out. Stop focusing on shedding pounds. Focus on loving your workout. The more you love it, the less it feels like work, and the more you look forward to it! MEANING the easier it will be to get fit. Make sense? I hope you find POP Pilates to be enjoyable! I love seeing you guys kill your calendars every month. It makes me so happy to see you getting stronger!

Now back to the athletes. As you can see, each competitor looks different but that does not mean that a rhythmic gymnast is a better than a long distance runner or a weightlifter. What do you mean by better anyway? They each have a different skill set and their focus is to be the best at their sport. Their body structure is simply a result of their training. It is definitely not the goal. The goal is to be strong, to be confident, and to win.

So what is the perfect body shape?

The one that makes you feel confident. The one that was sculpted from your desire to find happiness and health in doing what you love.

POPsters, today I ask you, why do you work out? Go ahead. Take a moment to dig deep and pull out your answer. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Love you,


PS – I’m going to see Hunger Games tonight. I am really scared. I think my eyes will be closed for 3/4 of the movie. Eek!!!

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  • This image was both heartening and saddening. I wonder how the numbers were verified because I have a very hard time believing some of them. Being 5’1″ and weighing 85 pounds is a BMI of barely over 16…which is starvation level thin. That’s not a healthy thing to be putting out there, if it’s true. And if it’s not true, it’s just another thing that makes women feel badly about their weights. What’s wrong with an athlete owning her weight, honestly?

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  • BryAna

    This reminds me of when I race in xc, I see all the runners on the starting line and you see the stick thin runners, then you see runners like me (5′ 5”, 135 lbs), and many other different body shapes.

  • Kathy

    I absolutely love reading all the comments on here. They’re all so motivating and I love “connecting” with other Popsters, even if I’ve never spoken a word to them!

    I began working out due to my eating disorder. I mean, I think we’ve all heard the saying “less calories in, more calories out” at some point and that was exactly what exercising was for me: to get the calories out. Now, of course, working out just isn’t to burn calories (and it’s a whole lot more fun when you’re not focusing on that anyways!), but I’ve noticed that whenever I workout consistently, I don’t really mind how I look. I used to be super self conscious about my arms and thighs but after working out, I’m not afraid to wear short sleeves, tank tops, or shorts. I actually look forward to it to show off all the muscle I’ve gained! Besides, I barely even notice these flaws and have started to see all the good in me instead!

  • Atiya

    Why do I work out? Well, while keeping a nice, toned body is one reason, I absolutely love pilates. I swear, it was like love at first sight… er, work out. I enjoy doing it, I feel good doing it, and it gives me a sort of confidence, plus it keeps me healthy. That’s probably why I could stick with it for so long, so easily.

  • Dakota

    Cassey this was so inspiring to read, and it opened my eyes to realize that there isn’t “a perfect body” and that I should be happy with what results I get. This is helping me love my own body and appreciate it’s looks, not for what society thinks I should look like. You inspire me every day and I love your Pilates!
    Lots of love and thanks,
    Dakota xx

  • It may be weird to say, but when I enlarged the picture, I realized something very important. I thought I was going to be jealous of all their bodies, nitpicking of my own as well as theirs. I came to learn that at the end of it that there are always aspects of our bodies that we criticize, but I threw that notion away found that their talent and determination that was clear on their faces is so much more important to me. If I am jealous of anything, it is their astounding work ethic and success.

  • I work out because it helps me manage stress and feel better about myself. I have low self esteem and working out makes me feel like I did something right, even if everything went wrong that day. A lot of people in my family are overweight, so I am motivated to stay fit because I’ve seen the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle.

  • Elizabeth

    Has anyone received the body makeover diet? I purchased the book and i was under the impression that an email was being sent on the 26th with the information?

  • Sarah

    You loved the movie and hardly took your eyes off of it. Admit it. XD

    I workout because I love learning what my body can accomplish, it gives me such a thrill to watch myself become stronger and do things that used to be impossible. I love working out because people naturally underestimate me because I’m small and it feels good to know that my height won’t stop me from doing things people think are impossible for me. :-)

  • Thia

    I work out because I am anxious. After a stressful period in my life, I knew I needed to do something to stay sane. I started to exercise first doing yoga and then experimenting with other types of exercises which is when I discovered you Cassey. I never realized how being physically strong could change my attitude and outlook on life. I am in my 40s and I am the strongest, healthiest, and happiest I have ever been in my life!

  • Rachel

    Hey fellow Popsters! PLEASE HELP
    I’m just wondering if you receive the passwords (for the body make over) if you haven’t purchased the book? I’m signed up to blogilates, and I don’t have a youtube, twitter or Facebook account. Any solutions? Or have I misunderstood something? Please help?!
    P.s I haven’t recieved anything yet and it’s the 27th in Aus.

  • Jessica

    I started my journey b/c of vanity and lack of confidence in my body. I will be the first to admit, my looks are a big motivator for me, but as time goes on, and my confidence is beginning to lift, I am seeing improvement in many other areas of my life b/c of my fitness level. I have always been obsessed with being strong, and for a large portion of my life I was. I was a fierce competitor in a variety of sports, but my main drive was my passion for horses. I am an avid equestrian, and for a few years, due to circumstances in life, I was away from my horses, and as a result, my fitness level dwindled. Now I have a horse again, and now it is winter again, and this is the time of the year when I notice my fitness level the most. Most people are the opposite, complaining of gaining weight an lacking ambition. While I also find that lack of ambition can be a problem, that is b/c winter is the toughest time of year for me. I live in Thompson, Manitoba, Canada. North of the 55th parallel, which means temperatures below -30 Celsius from November to April, and upwards of 6 feet of snow throughout the season. This means that every day when I go out to the stable, I have to fight with these conditions, and let me tell you, hauling a wheelbarrow through 4 feet of snow in November feels a lot like cross fit training. So needless to say, when it is a matter of needing to do it, not choosing to do it, it can be a little difficult to get motivated on some days. But when I come here, and I see all the support of this community, it makes my challenge seem a lot easier to conquer, and makes me want to strive to do more as well. I hope that by summer I am back to being fit and strong, and that my equitation sees a huge improvement b/c of it! I have been trying hard to set new goals that are healthy and attainable and I want to take the time to thank Cassey for all the work she has done for us, and for everyone else here who are all such an inspiration to me and others :)

  • Sam

    I started working out because I love the way I feel after I do. I feel confident, like I can do anyhing. I feel like I have accomplished something. I don’t do it to be skinny, but to be healthy. Based on genetics, I will never be “skinny”, but I can be happy and healthy, so I work out, and I am. Exercise is an amazing thing! :)

  • Tiffany

    I started working out because I felt at my age at the time, I was run down, out of energy and just not happy with how I was feeling. Then my focus was on keeping me healthy so I would be around to take care of my family who has a variety of health problems. My mom passed at the end of June this year and my focus changed again. I needed to do this for me. I’m not a selfish person by any means but I needed to do this one thing for me. My mom was so giving and always put herself last at everything. I wished she had more time to enjoy things she liked to do instead of doing what she felt she had to. I seen myself going down that same road and in my heart I know that’s not what she would have wanted for me. So with that said, I’m doing this for me! =)

  • andrea

    i started working out with blogilates because it seemed like a fun different way of compared to the time i spent in the gym. after that i saw how i became more and more strong and decided to stick with it although i have had some pauses along the way because of time issues i come back to it because i am so inspired with everything cassey says i workout not to feel or be skinny but more because i like getting stronger getting to do those excercises that i didnt use to be able to do . before i worked out in a gym because i thought it was healthy but most of the time it was boring. Now i workout because its fun i feel better and i see myself become a better me

  • I started working out because being overwheight was a huge factor during my adolescene and high school years. I lacked so much confidence and it made me have very low self esteem. I had a hard time. When I grew up I started working in a call center taking calls for Beachbody. I earned a turbofire thanks to my productivity and started working out. My motivation started there. I wont make this a publicity post or anything so I will just say that I noticed I was loosing weight excersising. I had lost weight previously and this helped me to keep going. I stopped working there some time ago but I kept my rutine. I have to say I still struggle and I sometimes flip when I see the scale go up 2 pounds. I’ve learned to love my self and I love being able to buy clothes that fit me well. I’m inside of the wight for my height now but I want to loose 5 more pounds. I know I can do it and I know I will do it in a healthy way. Thanks Cassie for such delicious food recipes and for such fun hip workouts!

  • Wendy

    wow, this post really got to me. over years i have been in the constant battle against myself to try to lose weight. I have always sought it out for vanity and because i hated what i saw in the mirror every morning. but i never really asked myself why is it that i work out and try my best to eat clean. I really needed time to digest this post and really think about why i do what i do.
    After much time, i think im ready. I want to work out to increase my confidence and self esteem and not only concentrate on losing weight. I have my self esteem to the floor and I have noticed that everytime I finish a workout, the feeling of accomplishment is what makes me feel good about myself and even sexy. I want to work out to please myself and be beautiful in my own eyes instead of aspiring to reach the perceptions of beauty in society. I want to be the STRONG AND CONFIDENT LATINA that I have always aspired to be.

    Thank You so much Cassey! You are such a great inspiration to me!

  • Taylar

    I am not overweight particularly, i just felt sometimes like i had wobbly bits in all the wrong places. So i started doing the pop pilates videos and i feel so much better about myself! Although all my wobbly bits are not gone, i still feel a billion times better about myself and now i just do the videos because they make me happy!

  • Jesselyn

    I work out to become healthy and live my life to the fullest :)

  • jennifer

    Cassey I need some advice im a vegetarian or pescatarian cuz I eat fish any who I wanna gain more muscle and weight I lift alot of weight I do your workouts for legs arms and abs and ill also do p90x and that’s when I use my weights and I use about 30 to 50 lbs im 5’5 weigh 107 I take vega one for my protein idk what else to do :(

  • Melissa

    I started working out as most people I think because I wanted to have a great body and I didn’t like mine, I have never being actually fat nor overweighted but I was obsessed with weight before, after I got over the obsession I noticed how good working out made me feel, I feel confident when I workout and the best part is notizing the results when you are not waiting for them, actually Cassey’s videos showed me results way sooner than I expected to see them which motivated me soooo much to keep going, but I work out because it just makes me feel soooo good! I feel more confident and I feel beautiful, and most important energetic, helps think better and clear my mind…. you need to do it because you enjoy it! Eventually you learn to love it and that is a great feeling …the results will come and you wont even notice….

  • Kimberly

    Teenagers today, specifically girls, are often obsessed with their weight and their looks, but assume starving themselves will lead them to a perfect “model” body they see in the movies and in advertisements.
    I work out because I want to feel strong and confident. I don’t aim for the “stick and bones” image many of my friends crave, but instead I focus on a toned and muscular image. I enjoy being in shape and knowing I can push my body and see and feel the results.

  • Jesika

    i work out because i’ve been overweight for 7 years (i’m 14) a lot of girls seem to not eat & i tried to do it but thankfully failed, i also heard my cousin did this & she stopped growing & now as a 25 year old girl, she’s 4 ft 8. Instead of trying to take a ‘shortcut’ i’m putting a lot of effort in trying to reach my goal to become the right weight, even though my parents say “why do you bother, just eat healthy & you’ll get there in no time”, easier said then done.

    • You go girly! Keep on that right track!

    • Sophie

      Well done. That’s a really good attitude to have! Remember it’s not just weight – it’s measurements. I freaked out when I first started doing weight exercises because my weight increased. It took me a moment to cotton on to the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, so while I’d lost some fat, I’d gained a lot of muscle. Keep going Jesika! You’ll get there. :)

  • Lara

    Heey Cassey

    I started working out because I wanted to loose weight. I set myself (too) high goals and started to loose my motivation. But then I discovered you and all the POPsters and I set my goals lower. Now today I work out because it makes fun, still to eventually loose weight but much more to feel more confident and to see my personal progress.
    Love xoxo

  • Ruby

    first, I started working out to loose weight, looking pretty for that one guy, looking as good as the other
    girls in my class. Just because of these silly things, I started to eat less and working out more…
    but now I LOVE working out, I feel a lot better, AND guess what? a lot prettier!

    Thanks for posting this, I really needed it, because I started to compare myself to others again.

    love you! (Sorry for my english, greets from Switzerlang! :D)

  • Love Andreanne’s comment about working out for the hunger games! Brilliant idea haha – although let’s hope it doesn’t ever come to that :P

    Each and every woman in the picture is gorgeous in her own unique way, and this is a brilliant post – so thanks Cassey!

  • Sarah

    I workout to get stronger and then get better when I climb cliffs :D

  • Gio

    I workout because I’m in my forties and I would like to gain some self confidence and sex appeal. After having babies, be a mom-wife 24×7, always taking care of my loving ones, therefore I just stop paying attention to myself.
    Now, I see myself a little bit fat, nothing fits on me, and sometimes I don’t feel pretty and I don’t see anymore that sparkling look in the eyes of my husband when he looks at me.
    So I decided to start making changes, little by little. What kind of changes?: First, I wanted to glow from inside to outside so I am developing my spiritual being, my soul, filling myself with positive thoughts. Second, taking natural care of my body, using everything I have at home to take care of my sking, my hair, my face… with ingredients that we all have at home without spending money and time in a beauty center. Third, enjoying everytime I workout, thinking that this exercises are making me stronger inside and outside, are helping me getting confidence in myself and feeling beautiful the way I am right now because it is taking me step by step to my goal, which is… light up my personal life and my relationship with myself and my love ones.

    Hugs and kisses!!

    • kelly

      its like i wrote it myself, *hugs and kisses* back from this 40 something gal doing the same thing ;-)

  • Sunny

    I’m like a serial beginner. It’s been a semester of trying to get skinnier and it hasn’t worked. In the past, when I stop trying to lose weight, I usually just lose weight. I find that when I start trying to *lose weight* I just can’t do it. I decide to eat less and buy a tub of ice cream two hours later.

    I have to focus on eating healthy one meal at a time and getting better at exercising (being able to do pilates at the next level of difficulty, running for an extra couple minutes, or you know, making it through a Poppilates workout without cursing).

    • Anet

      I have completely the same issue! When I decide I want to lose weight and eat less, the next day or in the evening in the same day I found myself hypnotising the chocolate bar or eating too much pastery…

      It is like I want to do it for myself, for enjoy, because I really love it, but when I think about it in that way suddenly comes the thought of losing weight or ,,I am too fat” and ,,I can´t just do it” or ,, I´ve been trying it for almost two years and nothing changed. It is hopeless.”

      I know I should try to find another aim for working out, but when I do, there is something why I can´t do it right know (sickness, university issues etc.). It is like a magic circle that will never ends.

  • I work out for the Hunger Games!

    Hey you never know! What if someday the Government takes over and start to think it’s a good idea? I realised couple of months ago that I would be the very first one to die because I couldn’t run!

    Also realised that if I ever get to Hogwart (it can still happen… as a teacher or something) I wouldn’t be able to climb up all the frickin strairs!

    Also realised that I would probably fail the Dauntless initiation because I’m not a fast enough runner, also not strong enough for hand to hand combat….

    Also realised that I couldn’t be a companion because the Doctor is always running and stuff…

    Yep, I started my fitness journey because I’m a huge nerd….

    But now my goal is to do a mud race next summer! Spartan race, here I come!

    • Sophie

      Here’s to still hoping that we’ll be a companion some day! ;)

    • MandiR

      Andreanne–You just absolutely made my day with this post. I was just thinking about the Hunger Games as motivation the other day. Cheers for the laughs and keep working hard!

  • Rachela

    Pls can someone reply…
    I really want to do the body make over that’s starting soon but I was wondering if I’ll receive the passwords if I have not purchased the book? And I don’t have a youtube account either so I can’t subscribe there. I gave subscribed to blogilates though, through the main website. But it sounds like you on,y get passwords after purchasing the book… Have I read something wrong! Please help! :-/

  • Tasha

    I initially work out to lose a couple pounds, but now it’s more like for fun and being happy. I remembered couple months ago when I just started doing your workout videos, I couldn’t get through some of them without stopping. But now, with practice and determination, I could pull through the whole workout. Now, if I don’t workout at all, I feel like something’s missing. Even in my resting days, I would have to do some of your stretching workouts so that I feel like I’ve completed my day.
    I just wish that I can be as committed and consistent on eating clean. I find it hard to eat clean, especially ever since the holiday season started.
    Definitely looking forward for your next videos and also, the 90-day challenge!

  • It’s funny that you wrote this post, Cassey, because recently I have become emotionally affected by my weight. I’ve been attempting to lose weight for years now, and while I have been successful I’ve come to a stand still. I started to feel less confident in my skin, even around my boyfriend who I am the most comfortable with. I decided to stop weighing myself for a while and focus on working out. I love to run, I love to push myself and run farther and run faster. Recently running became about weight loss, but this post has inspired me to get back to running because it makes me feel good about myself and allows me to challenge myself to be better. Everything falls into place when I run consistently, I swap out junk food for clean food so my runs will improve. Thank you for this, Cassey! I love that you’re not just about workouts and health plans, but improving ones life and outlook. Please, if you have time, check out my blog

  • Neha

    This is amazing! It all boils down to “what makes you feel good and keeps you happy”. I have alway had a body shape to die for. I have an hourglass body shape and have always loved it. Lately, I’ve had a problem of polycystic ovaries (PCODs) which resulted on insulin intolerance and made me put on 12 kgs. Although I’m still insanely in love with my body, I know what it should ideally look like. So my motive to workout is to be fit and overcome the health issues which I see happening soon! Yayy! Love. xoxo

    • Sophie

      I love this article. I have really struggled with my figure for as long as I can remember. My mum and sister are both teeny , but I a really overaccentuated hour glass and soft around the edges. I have fought with myself for years trying to be skinny, flat stomached and long legged with a thigh gap… until I realised that I actually can’t acheive that.

      Pop pilates has really helped me with my confidence. I haven’t shed the kilos… I’ve just come to appreciate my body more. I find it easier to love the curves when I put in an effort to put them there. Their size is indicitive of my strength now, rather than the number of chocolates I nommed that week. I’m happier and more confident now than I have ever been, and it feels amazing.

      Thank you Cassey. You’ve helped me a lot x

  • Livvi

    I work out because it makes me feel good
    I also love that they included Sport Aerobics in the pic ;)