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Here’s How To Stop Judging Yourself When You’re New To Exercise.

You’ll only need 6 minutes.

Here’s How To Stop Judging Yourself When You’re New To Exercise.

Exercise is intimidating, esp. the first time you do it! No wonder people feel so self-conscious and judge themselves for their “poor performance” or “lack of coordination,” esp. when other (more experienced) people are nearby and comparisons are easy to make.

But part of this intimidation comes from the unknown. If you knew for sure you’d also lift that weight or strike that yoga pose, say 2 months from today, you wouldn’t feel intimidated today. You’d just focus on your exercise.

But the problem is it’s really hard to estimate how long it’ll take to become fitter. Will it take a month? 6 months? 3 years? And even if you ask a couple of people about their own personal experience the answers may not be exactly helpful and may even be diso

That’s why I created the FB16 warm up week, to help people who’re new to High Intensity Interval Training and Flat Belly Firm Butt in 16 Minutes, first check it out, and also estimate where they’ll be after a few weeks of following the FB16 system.

But before I talk about the FB16 Warm Up Week, let me share a personal experience first to show exactly why it’s hard to compare yourself to others and then try to draw conclusions that would be meaningful in any way.

“It took her 10 years to reach that level, will it also take me 10 years?”

I was already doing different types of exercise, but on that day it was my first time at this specific type of yoga class. Everyone was getting all the poses right on their first try, except for me. Specifically the woman next to me was simply amazing. Her headstand was gorgeous, her balance perfect.

So I asked her, “How long have you been doing yoga?”

“10 years” she said.

And then I thought, “do I also need 10 years to become as good as her? How much time exactly would I need to reach her level?”

There were many problems with this question:

  • I didn’t know exactly when she achieved each one of her things I admired her for. Maybe she’s perfect at headstands since year two, or since year six, who knows?
  • She’s only one person. This is hardly statistically significant.
  • I didn’t know how often she practiced, how much effort she put into it, or what her practice included (hot yoga? vinyasa? pilates? weight lifting? running? all of these together? Did she practice headstands from the beginning or did she start doing them at year 5?)
  • I didn’t know her starting fitness level. Was she already fit, just new to yoga? Or was she a complete beginner? Did she have ballet classes when she was little?

Trying to estimate how fast I would progress at this particular yoga style was impossible.

Sounds familiar? Have you also ever been a newbie in a new style of exercise and wondered how long it’ll take you to improve? I’ve encountered this situation over and over in my life:

  • When I first joined the gym and saw a woman using 15-pound dumbbells (while I was only using the 5-pound ones.)
  • At the yoga class I just talked about.
  • When I first did HIIT and wondered when I’d be able to finish the workout without having the need of extra breaks.

I know exactly how demotivating it may be to do something for the first time and compare yourself to other people who have been doing this for a while. That’s why today I’ll address this question for High Intensity Interval Training and FB16 in particular.

If you’ve never done HIIT before – what should you expect 4-8 weeks from today?

Enter the FB16 Warm Up Week.

I just created a bonus area called the FB16 Warm Up Week. You can access it by dropping your e-mail here.

During this week we:

  • Measure our current fitness level
  • Estimate where we’ll be a 4-8 weeks after doing HIIT for 16 minutes, 3 times a week
  • And I also show you a sample 16-minute HIIT workout so that you know exactly what you’ll be doing to reach that level

First – Measure your current fitness level (5 minutes.)

Show us what you can do. You’ll get a free mini “fit test” workout where you’ll be doing HIIT-style 3 exercises that target all areas of your body: pushups for upper body, squats for lower body, and the lady bug for abs specifically.

Follow the instruction in the mini Fit Test video (you get access to it once you sign up for the FB16 warm up week). Do as many reps as you can in 60 seconds, until the timer goes off. Then take your break and continue with the next exercise. Below are detailed instructions on form, so that you have no doubt you’re doing each exercise right.


Works: Upper body

The full push-up

Get into a plank position with your palms underneath your shoulders and your feet together.

Now bend your elbows and lower your body until your chin or torso is almost touching the floor. Push yourself up to starting position and repeat.

Make sure that you’re neither sticking your butt out nor letting your hips sag down. This is not proper push-up form. Also, take care that your body remains in a perfectly straight plank position both when you’re going down and when you’re pushing yourself up.

Finally, pay attention. Are you lowering your body as close to the floor as possible? Or, are you only pretending you’re doing push-ups? Don’t take C for effort, give it your all!

Unless you can easily do more than 15 full full pushups, I recommend you go for the half push-up in the mini fit test.

Think about it – this is 60 seconds of as many pushups as you can. Do you really think you can be a full push-up machine for 60 seconds? (btw, if you can, then congrats!!)

half pushups
This is the half-pushup starting position.
half pushups 2
Half-pushup ending position.


Just like in the regular push-up, get into a plank position with your palms beneath your shoulders. Now touch your knees on the floor.

Lower your body down until your torso or chin almost touches the floor. Then push your body back up and repeat.

Here’s a hint that can slightly change how this exercise feels. The closer your upper arms are to your body, the harder push- ups become and the more you work your triceps, the muscles at the back of your upper arms.

If, instead, your arms are open, with your palms not beneath your shoulders but in parallel to them, your chest muscles get worked more and the exercise feels easier. Choose the arm position that fits your needs the best.

Squats Touch and Reach

Works: Lower body

Squat touch and reach starting and ending position. If going low is hard, that’s ok, keep the squat higher and skip touching the floor for now.

Bring your feet a bit more than hip width apart with your feet facing about 30 degrees out to the sides. Always maintain a straight back by pushing your chest out and by tucking your pelvis in.

Look forward, extend your arms above your head, take a deep breath, then squat down. Lower your seat down as low as you can, as if you were trying to sit on a chair behind you, while at the same time lowering your hands. If you can, touch the floor with your fingertips. Come back up to starting position and repeat.

Lady Bug

Works: abs

lady bug abs exercise start
Lady bug starting position.


lady bug fit test
Lady bug ending position. The higher your legs, the easier it becomes. Make sure you don’t arch your back.

Lie down on the floor with your arms next to your body. With your knees over your hips, bring your heels together with flexed feet to form a double V shape. Now raise your head and shoulder blades off the floor. Raise your arms a few inches above the floor. Keep your feet together as you straighten your legs to the front.

Now bend your knees and bring them back. Repeat. Make sure your head and arms remain lifted throughout the movement. The lower your legs when on the extended position, the harder this exercise becomes.

Make sure you keep your lower back flat on the floor as you extend your legs. Arching it ruins the form of the exercise and puts your lower back at risk. Extending your legs higher will make the exercise easier and decrease your tendency to arch your lower back.

Second – Estimate your fitness level 4-8 weeks from today with the fitness level calculator (1 minute.)

fitness level estimate
The fitness level estimator calculator

Jot down how many reps you’ll get to as you do the Fit Test. Then put your total reps in the middle column that you’ll find right below the mini Fit Test video. The numbers on the third column will automatically change to reflect your future reps 4-8 from today based on the data of past students.

Keep in mind that this is an average estimate based on the self-reported data of previous FB16 students of varying fitness levels. But it’s still a ballpark number of people who followed the same system and that gives you a sense of what to expect.

Now you know exactly not just where you stand in your upper body, lower body, and ab strength, but you also have a ballpark number of what to expect 4-8 weeks from today.

Third – Check out what you’ll need to do to get to that level 4-8 weeks from today.

Okay, so now you know where you’ll be in the future. But doing what? In the bonus area you’ll find one of the FB16 workouts. It’s right there for you to try. All you’ll need to get to that level will be to follow the FB16 system – just 16 minutes 3 times a week!

Sounds good? If you’ve not yet signed up for the FB16 warm up week, do it today! Did I mention it’s free? Then take the 5-minute Fit Test and see where you stand!

And let me remind you: Yes I totally understand if you find exercise intimidating. But it is no excuse for not doing it and missing out on all the wonderful benefits (from better health to fighting depression, exercise is amazing!)

So if you find exercise intimidating, you must give yourself a break, and let yourself explore a bit. Remember, everyone was a beginner at first!

Author, Creator of FB16
Maria is the founder of Fitness Reloaded, where she helps over 100,000 monthly readers make better, healthier choices.
She's a Stanford Engineering grad and the best-selling author of "Surprisingly...Unstuck: The Power of Small Healthy Habits In A World Addicted To Instant Results" and "Flat Belly Firm Butt in 16 Minutes".
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