Exercise 101: The Clueless Girl’s Guide to the Gym post image

Exercise 101: The Clueless Girl’s Guide to the Gym

Today’s the day! Today, I am going to go to the gym, have a great workout, and start getting in shape! But wait, there’s just one teeny, tiny problem… “I don’t have clue what I’m doing!”

For most women, simply finding the time and motivation to workout is hard enough, so researching the most effective forms of cardio, proper lifting techniques, and nutritional requirements is simply out of the question.  Who cares if you don’t know everything about the anatomy of the body, the point is to make your body look better!

The amount of scientific research about fitness is overwhelming, but the easy tips below will have you feeling and looking like you belong at the gym:

Prepare for Success
Find time to workout. At the beginning of each week, look over your schedule, decide when you can realistically workout, and write it down in your organizer. If you plan on working out later in the day, such as after work, you know that stopping home is equivalent to playing Russian roulette. Sure, you might win big, but you also could end up dead on the couch, cleaning a closet, or rearranging your sock drawer. Don’t test your will power! Instead, try keeping a gym bag in your car filled with some fashionable gym attire, sneakers, headphones, magazines, and a small towel.

Next, learn some exercises. Today’s technology has made it easier than ever for beginners to learn how to lift weights.  Our iPhones contain countless apps that provide simple, animated step-by-step instructions for performing different exercises. Need to learn how to do a proper squat? Search “Leg exercises or workout exercises” and you’ll be bootylicious in no time! Also, websites, like YouTube, contain tons of pre-designed workouts and exercises organized by body part.

Finally, what to eat and when? Don’t worry if your pre-workout meal has the proper ratio of “macros”, I mean wasn’t that a class in college anyway? The important thing is to have enough fuel in your body to power through your entire workout. If you have ever gone to the gym on an empty stomach, you probably have cut your cardio session short or skipped a few sets. Instead, try eating a snack or small meal about one hour prior to your workout. Don’t stress if the timing isn’t perfect, the point is to be able to digest you food before you start exercising. You should include both protein and carbohydrates in your pre-workout meal, for example half a grilled chicken sandwich, non-fat Greek yogurt, or turkey slices with an apple.


Workout like a Boss
Forget the whole debate on which is better – cardio or weight lifting? The fact is, both are important, PERIOD. The trick to a successful workout is to switch it up, make it challenging, and make it fun enough that you want to go back!

If anyone claims to have a secret formula for the exact amount of cardio or weight lifting needed to look good, they are probably just trying to sell you something. Focus on feeling more comfortable in the weight room and pushing yourself to new limits. If you can easily go through your entire workout without sweating, then it’s time to increase the intensity!

For most women, weight lifting is about as easy to understand as guy’s feelings. Many are afraid of “bulking up” and as a result do countless hours of cardio without seeing any results. I have been weight training for years and I still don’t have muscles like a man!

If you are still nervous about building muscle, but not losing weight, keep cardio in your weekly routine. By increasing the intensity and decreasing the time spent on the elliptical, you can spend a half hour becoming more familiar with the weight room. But remember, if a Twinkie weighs more than your dumbbell, you are not going to see results!

Recover and Refuel
Married? Boyfriend? Massage? YES! Make sure you treat your body to some serious TLC after a hard workout. Both proper stretching and adequate rest periods help prevent injuries and decrease body soreness. Always incorporate rest days into your training. A trick for those with busy schedules is to plan rest days when you don’t have a minute of free time to spare.

It’s also important to refuel your body after a workout, and I don’t mean with Ben & Jerry’s’! Similar to your pre-workout meal, try to eat foods that contain both carbs and proteins within a half hour or hour of leaving the gym. After a workout your metabolism is in overdrive, so I like to take this opportunity to eat something a little sweet or savory, like a chocolate protein shake or some whole wheat pasta.

You are now fully equipped with the knowledge needed to workout! But there is one more thing you need for success – confidence. I don’t care if it’s as fake as Snookie’s tan, just make sure you act like you belong in the gym and don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise!

Let Me Know: What’s stopping you from working out? Is there a way I can help?


alyse scaffidi profileAlyse Scaffidi is the founder of Bite Sized Fitness. She is a Doctorate of Pharmacy student and knows how hard it is to make time for your health. Check out the sites below for more motivational tips, delicious recipes, and ideas for healthy eating.

Twitter: @BiteSizedFit
Instagram: bitesizedfitness
Facebook: facebook.com/bitesizedfitness
Email Me: BiteSizedFitness@gmail.com


6 comments… add one

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Alyse Scaffidi


I might have helped you realize how to be healthy, but the hard work and dedication was all you girl!

Thanks so much for the kind words!

Reply September 19, 2013, 12:52 pm


I follow you on IG and you’re very inspiring. I’m 8 months pregnant now and I look forward to taking your advice and getting a jump start to my fitness after baby! I’ve already started eating differently, more healthy and planning out my meals for the week, because I know it will only help my baby after birth. That being said, do you have a “must-have” list of equipment that I could help me start working out a home? I have a few things but obviously not nearly the amount of equipment a gym has.
Thanks! I look forward to your continued inspiration!

Reply September 19, 2013, 10:19 am

Alyse Scaffidi

Hi Jessica,

First of all, congrats!! It’s great to hear you’ve been able to make some essential changes in living a healthy lifestyle! Personally, I find the most important things for a home gym include a mat to perform floor exercises, a medicine ball or bosu ball for core workout outs, and a few dumbbells ranging from 5-20 lbs. There are plenty of ways to create a great workout with only those few items, and the newborn can take care of the cardio aspect! Remember, even exercises like a bench press can be done on the floor or on a bosu ball, so there are plenty of ways to do these exercises at home!

Reply September 19, 2013, 12:51 pm


Hi Jessica,

Could I use your comment for a testimonial about how Bite Sized Fitness has helped you? If so could you message me bitesizedfitness@gmail.com. I would love to include it on my upcoming website.


Reply February 12, 2014, 9:32 pm


Alyse addresses every ridiculous excuse I have used to make the wrong decision about nutrition or exercise. It just proves she has been through the same struggles, but has learned what works to overcome them and live a healthy, lean life. Thanks for the tips and letting me know I’m not the only crazy one out there!

Reply September 19, 2013, 8:39 am

Marissa R.

Alyse (the author) helped me realize that I was making excuses for my unhealthy habits. My problem: I rationalized everything. Did it really matter to the birthday girl that I eat a huge meal plus three slices of cake? Was I any less of a friend for having one drink instead of three for happy hour? Was I going to lose my job if I had an apple instead of two donuts and a muffin at a team breakfast? The answer was always no.

Alyse worked out with me once a week for a few months. The beginning was scary-I was so self conscious. But once she taught me how to properly use gym equipment, I had no problems using free weights and weight machines (aka the “girl free zone.”)

Then came the food-and let me tell you, eating healthy is NOT EASY! We’ve all been though binges of “I’m going to eat healthily” and quickly crashing into a bag of chocolate (dark chocolate covered fruit for me). Alyse taught me that small changes go long way-drink more water, drink my coffee black, replace fried chicken with grilled chicken.

Alyse gave me the knowledge and confidence boost I needed to realize that I can be healthy. I’m the only woman doing free weights at the corporate gym-and it’s awesome! Most importantly, she taught me that everyday I have to make a conscious decision to be healthy. We all deserve to be the best versions of ourselves, and I have Alyse to thank for helping me realize this!

Reply September 18, 2013, 8:17 pm

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