Beginner’s Fitness Journey (Part 1)

by Marianne  - December 4, 2012

Hi everyone,

Firstly, I must apologize for not posting this last week.  I got distracted by other things and my priorities shifted for a short time. Anywho, I am back now, and I am excited to launch this new series of posts which will basically follow the fitness journey of a true beginner (aka my Mum, Phyllis Sloan).

What has troubled me for a while now is thinking about Beginners arriving at my site and seeing the types of workouts that I do and thinking this is what is expected of them.  Although I have a “Getting Started” area full of workouts and advice for newbies to the site, I feel I would like to launch a series showcasing an actual beginner as a way to reassure others of what they can truly expect over the first 6-8 weeks of strength training and how important mastering the basics really is.  It’s so easy to become discouraged by seeing how far you have to go, rather than celebrating each step along YOUR journey.

In the absence of a Personal Trainer, hopefully I can help you learn what to work on in order to build a good foundation  of co-ordination, fitness, strength, mobility and recovery in order to then progress beyond the “basics” (although I would argue the basics never get old).

Earlier in the year, I wrote about my mum starting the Beginner Workouts demonstrated HERE.  These are great routines to start with and I will film my mum performing the exercises over the coming weeks to showcase her improvements.

While mum and I were away in County Clare the other week, I brought some of my training equipment with me so I could perform some training in the hotel room.  Mum showed an interest in restarting her training, so I designed the following workout for her to perform, and I coached her through it… and since, I have coaxed her into being my guinea pig (thanks Mother!).

Over the next 6 weeks, mum has agreed to train using similar exercises to the ones below, and on the “Start here” post I linked to above. She will repeat the same workouts and record her scores along the way. She assures me that she can commit to training 2-3 times per week for 10-15 mins at a time.  She may only have time for 1 or 2 rounds of the exercises, but I feel confident that this alone will help build her strength and help her achieve her goals.

Over the last few years, my mum has lost a lot of WEIGHT through diet and cardio-based exercise (a typical story), but is now left with little muscle on her frame.  Basically, although Mum is happy with the weight she is, she now sees that this is not enough to achieving a more “toned” appearance.  Basically, her body composition has not changed very much.

Now the goal is to support muscle growth and try to improve the overall composition of mum’s frame –> this may result in a little weight gain. However, since mum also wants to be healthy and functional into the future, then this is the best way to go.

Now on with the workout mum performed for you to see her baseline.  The ability of my mum in performing these exercises is fairly typical of most people, and I remember being exactly the same.  If you stick with something long enough and learn proper training methods, then the sky is the limit 🙂


I had my mum perform one round of the following exercises:

  1. Jungle Gym Assisted Squat (to refresh her “sitting back” technique) then unassisted Body Weight Squat (still needs to grow in confidence about sitting back with the hips first. Mum is knee dominant like most beginners start out): 10 assisted, then 8 unassisted 
  2. Body Weight Glute Bridge (done before the swing to help fire up the glutes): x12
  3. Two-Handed Kettlebell Swing x about 20 seconds then 30 seconds (Working on mum’s hip hinge is coming along. I asked if she wanted a rest, but she was determined to get this right LOL)
  4. Two-Handed Overhead Press (12kg) x 5 reps
  5. Inverted Row x 12
  6. Front Plank x 10 seconds
  7. Seated Band Abduction x 12 reps (good glute response)

Two main things I notice mum needs to work on are: her ability to bend at the hips first, rather than initiating from the knees and Hip Mobility.  Her lower back has a very limited range of movement, so this is an issue when trying to teach her to sit her butt back.

In addition to the workout, we did some back extensions, knee to chest tucks and body weight side bends to help move the back mobility.

Over all, mum did a really great job and I am proud of her for giving this a go and letting me film her!

Having confidence in yourself cannot be underrated, so I know as mum gets used to these exercises more, she will test her limits and challenge herself more… but this can take a few weeks.

I am excited about updating you on her progress in 3 weeks time, but until then, you can expect a few more articles dedicated to helping Beginners master the basics and understand my training methods 🙂

In the next installment, I will be answering the question: “How Often Should I Train?”. People often ask me how often I train and then possibly mimic my pattern.  I want to discourage you from doing this because it takes away the ability to listen to your own body and find what works best for you and your goals. So I will expand on this during the next installment of this series —> however I also believe it will be a useful post for those people who have been training for a while.

 Hope you enjoyed this post. If there is anything you’d like me cover, leave a comment below and I will put together a video blog to answer your questions 🙂





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  1. Fantastic workout. I’m a beginner male 35. I love your videos. What I need to know is line a step by step guidance I.e., video 1 day 1 video 2 day 2 etc to start working out and build a solid base.
    I would love to start this body weight and kettlebell workout routine. Can you guide where to Begin n do like a 12-16 weeks routine ? I’m 5’8″ 35 male with no health issues. Quit smoking 14 month ago.
    Just finished C25K program. Thanks

  2. Marianne I would like to say ‘Thanks’ to all your followers who have really encouraged me with their comments. I’m determined to get back into the swing of these exercises again – no pun intended! – notwithstanding the fact that you are a great personal trainer …and so patient with me – I can only succeed 🙂

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