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Is Chloe Ting a Robot? And Other Facts About YouTube's Reigning Fitness Queen

Illustration for article titled Is Chloe Ting a Robot? And Other Facts About YouTubes Reigning Fitness Queen
Screenshot: Youtube/Chloe Ting

Every generation gets the home workout fitness titans they deserve. The 1950s had Jack LaLanne, ’80s had Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons, and in the 1990s saw an endless number of celebrity workout videos, from Cher’s “A New Attitude” to Heather Locklear’s personal fitness routine. But in 2020, all eyes are on Chloe Ting, a YouTuber who has enraptured Gen Z with her brutal, minimalist workouts that promise everything from curvy booties to six-pack abs. If you’re wondering why your teenage daughter is suddenly embarking on a “two week shred challenge,” or simply wondering who the hell this woman is, let me enlighten you!

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Who is Chloe Ting?

Chloe Ting is an exceedingly cheerful 34-year-old Australian fitness YouTuber whose workouts have gone viral in the past few months largely due to their popularity on TikTok. Ting started her YouTube channel in 2011 while she was working as an actuarial analyst. She mostly uploaded influencer-adjacent content like clothing tips and travel diaries of exotic locales. But by 2017 her channel became almost exclusively devoted to fitness and diet videos. Now she’s making teens across the country cry in their bedrooms as she coaches them to rock solid abs from their bedroom.

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How popular is she, exactly?

Chloe Ting has 12.1 million subscribers on Youtube. In comparison, Cassie Ho of Blogilates fame, who has been uploading videos since 2009, has 5.25 million subscribers on Youtube. Yoga With Adriene has 7.92 million subscribers and Fitness Blender has 6.34 million followers.

Damn, that’s a lot of followers, but why is she so popular?

TikTok, man. I first came across Ting through the app a few months ago, when I started getting sucked into TikTok’s addicting feed. Users are regularly uploading progress videos doing her workouts, often her “2 Weeks Shred Challenge,” to millions of views. But there are also as many people sharing how easily they quit Ting’s workouts and how much they were struggling during them (especially during the up and down planks.) The Chloe Ting workout struggle has basically become a meme onto itself. “Every girl in quarantine when they hear this song,” reads one video, in which Ting’s EDM soundtrack begins playing and a girl immediately hits the floor to do planks.

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Beyond the fact that she gives her videos titles things like “ABS IN 2 WEEKS!” and “DO THIS EVERYDAY TO LOSE WEIGHT,” which isn’t unusual on Youtube, I also suspect Ting’s workouts are going viral right now because she understands most of her audience is working out at home. Yes, most Youtube fitness caters to the gymless, but most of her videos feature jumping accommodations so you won’t wake up your downstair neighbors and she never uses any equipment. That makes Ting’s videos perfect for an audience of teenagers and college students forced to schlep back home looking for a discreet way to work out. Or, to transform themselves into goddesses who emerge from quarantine with big butts, skinny waists, and six-packs, desperately trying to shed their couch potato isolation past.

Oh, cool. Wait, what’s TikTok?

It’s a social media app, a video platform with an extremely powerful recommendation algorithm that creates your “For You Page,” which is like the homepage of TikTok. Spend enough hours on it and the feed will begin recommending content based on what you’ve already watched and liked with a disturbing specificity. For example, my page knows I want to watch women sew their own clothes from retro patterns, aspiring chefs cook cacio e pepe, and teen girls cry to My Bloody Valentine. At its best, the app reminds me of Vine.

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What’s Vine?

Get out of here!

Are Chloe Ting’s workouts really that hard?

I guess that depends on how fit you are. Through her TikTok virality, I get the sense that most people turning to Ting right now are doing so out of a desire to get more fit during quarantine and are fitness beginners. I tried one short workout in her “2 Week Shred” challenge and found it just difficult enough. I am, however, also a noodle whose regular routine mostly consists of walking and the occasional pilates video. Jezebel features editor Stassa Edwards, who was doing HIIT five days a week before the pandemic, found one of Ting’s videos easy but praised its “good range of movements.” Alexis Sobel Fitts, deputy editor, also complimented how Ting lays out her workouts. Nobody else on Jezebel staff who has tried the videos has perished while doing Ting’s workouts, which is nice because I’d like Jezebel to be as swole as possible. It just makes for better blogging!

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So are people really getting abs in two weeks? Can I actually “tone” my arms in ten minutes with no equipment? Is God real?

No, no, and let me get back to you on that one. Like a lot of buzzy online fitness instructors, Ting promises a lot of videos that work out one part of your body. But as we all know the titles are just a clickbait-y wait to lure in viewers and successful progress videos don’t show the full picture of someone’s fitness routine, like their diet. Ting has her fair share of critics, especially from fitness instructors and personal trainers. Personal trainer Marissa Arnone, who has over 212,000 followers on TikTok, tried Ting’s two-week ab workout and said that while she found it challenging defined abs are only going to come through more intense, longer-term workouts, not a two-week video.

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Is Chloe Ting...

Yes? Go on?

...is she, you know, a robot?

Thank you so much for asking! No, Chloe Ting is not a robot. There is, however, a jokey conspiracy on TikTok that she might be a robot or “fake,” like a digital avatar. This conspiracy seems rooted in the fact that Ting is super composed during workouts and never looks like she’s even close to breaking a sweat.

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“She looks like a robot disguised to look like a human,” the user @ysobs posted in a video in May, which has over four million views and 752,000 likes. “When she blinks she does it very slow and automated.” “Her movement here is super robotic so it scared me,” says TikTok user @sugarhoneyiceddtea in a video with over 147,000 likes. “Her face is weirdly smooth” and “she doesn’t show emotions,” another user says.

Ting also uses a voiceover during videos so we never hear her breathing or talking to viewers, which isn’t uncommon for well-produced videos like hers, and she tends to have her hair in cute braids and makeup on during workouts. The idea that Ting is a robot or an animated avatar is likely due to the fact that viewers find themselves flailing during her workouts.

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So should I try Ting’s workouts or what?

Yes, and no, it’s all fine to me. But just remember, no matter how you’re working out, or how often, or what you’re eating to transform your body, you can not and will not escape death.

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Happy working out!

Pop Culture Reporter, Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

vulcanbookworm
Vulcanbookworm

Gonna hijack this comment section to ask what online workouts y’all have been enjoying/suffering through lately! I’ve been on a vintage workout kick: tried a very prance-y Jazzercise video that killed my calves, a Jane Fonda workout with delightfully awful synth music and fantastic outfits (SUSPENDERS??), and a whole lot of Tae Bo with Billy Blanks.

The latter’s been my favorite so far; it takes me back to the Tae Kwon Do classes of my youth, except a lot higher-effort and with Billy Blanks’s relentlessly upbeat attitude as a bonus. (I highly recommend the Insane Abs vid — just go easy on the twists so you don’t jack your neck up and watch your form on the kicks to protect your knees.) Billy’s 64 now and still producing workout videos (from home, because COVID) with his daughter, which is just charming.