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Getting the most out of your training program

Part 1: Feedback

For many people, getting started on the path towards fitness can be overwhelming. You come to a new gym, are faced with lots of new equipment, don’t necessarily know the etiquette, and have no idea WHAT TO DO. We often find ourselves gravitating towards the few things we do know: the treadmill, maybe some dumbbell curls, maybe the bench (for all my bench bros). This will work for awhile, because if nothing else it’s building the habit of just being in the gym. But at some point, you may want more. That’s where a real training program comes in.

I believe that the best program is one designed specifically with you in mind. Over the years, I’ve adapted my custom program system to be more flexible and more interactive with clients. I typically program on a week-by-week basis. Why? I need your feedback.

Personally, I’ve dealt with programs and coaches that varied from providing a 12-week training block up front that we only discussed at the end, to a coach that put my workouts in EVERY DAY after reading my comments from the day before. Each style has positives and negatives. The 12 week program was satisfying for me in that I could plan out three whole months of my training life way ahead of time (I love having a plan), but left no room to adjust for minor injury or illness. I just had to guess on my own and see how I fared at the end. With my daily-updating coach, I saw a lot of improvement (particularly with my running), but had NO IDEA what I was going to get into on any given day. In addition, if he ever went on vacation or had a sick day, I would be out of a training plan (or receive it late).

Weekly updates are the middle ground that seems to have work best for me and many other coaches I admire. But it doesn’t work AT ALL if I don’t get your feedback! What do I mean by that? Here are some terms and concepts you need to know:

Provide the weights used, sets and reps completed

This seems obvious, but often gets skipped!
I will sometimes program AMRAP (as many reps as possible) sets, where I ask you to do 5+ reps with a given weight. There’s a big difference between hitting 6 reps vs 16 reps! I need to know that to adjust your weights for the following week.
I also frequently program rep ranges vs. an assigned number of reps (eg. Do 3 sets of 8-12 push-ups vs 3 sets of 10 push-ups). I want you to have a chance to push yourself towards that higher number, but know you still got in the required work even if you don’t. And it’s important for me to know if you did 3 sets of 8 (indicating the movement was difficult but achievable) or 3 sets of 12 (indicating it’s time to move up in difficulty)!
Sometimes I won’t provide a weight to use on certain assistance movements, leaving it up to you (with some guidance using the RPE scale, which I’ll touch on in a moment). If you just mark it as done, I can be missing some really valuable input. An example I often see: a client with a bench press max of 135lbs is assigned a Fatbell bench as an assistance movement. They end up using the 26lb Fatbells (so 52lbs total weight), and really struggle to do sets of 8, especially with their right arm. That indicates a huge opportunity of growth for that client, that would have been missed if they never let me know what weight they were using.
Finally, if I give you a very straightforward set and you just can’t get those reps in, that means I miscalculated or you need some extra recovery time. All of that can be adjusted for the following week, with the right feedback.

Tell me how hard it was!

It’s that simple! If I get no feedback about difficulty, I have to assume everything felt just fine. I’ll continue progressing your exercises and weights as though the previous workout was adequate. But if you really struggled with your deadlift on Week 3 without telling me, imagine how it’s going to feel in Week 6 when I’ve added more weight or increased your reps? It can be really demoralizing to miss lifts, and neither one of us wants that.
I use the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale to make it easy for clients to let me know how a movement felt. There are a variety of ways to explain this scale, but this is my preference for beginners (or those that are new to thinking about training in this way):
RPE 10: I almost died. This set was my absolute max on this day. Couldn’t have done another rep
RPE 9: This was extremely challenging. I could maybe have done one more rep, but my form may have been sloppy.
RPE 8: Very challenging but doable. The last few reps were difficult, but I could have done 1-2 more if I had to.
RPE 7: A comfortably difficult weight. I could definitely do 3 more reps.
RPE 6: Basically a warm-up
RPE 5 and below: Don’t matter. So easy.
This is the bread and butter of client feedback. If you’re doing a workout where everything is an RPE 9-10, you can imagine the following week we’re going to back off a little bit. If you’re doing an entire workout that’s an RPE 6, it looks like we need to ramp it up for you!

Videos, life, feelings
I always leave a section in my programs for general notes. I want to know what else is going on with you. Are you super stressed at work and can’t understand why training feels terrible? I can probably guess, and now know you may need a deload. For my female clients, your cycle matters. Are you knocked out with cramps for 5 days a month? You probably don’t want to max your squat at that time. Let me know and I’ll adjust for you.
Did you just LOVE deadlifting one day? I want to know that too! One of my favorite coaches always tells me to program “80% of what they need and 20% of what they want.” Knowing what you love and what you hate helps me create a program that you enjoy (and are therefore more likely to stick to).
Finally, VIDEO. I can’t be with you during every training session unfortunately. By recording your sets, I can provide a lot more information than going on RPE and comments alone. That’s where we catch your knee collapse in the deadlift and work out your weaknesses. It can also be useful to record yourself doing assistance movements that you’re unfamiliar with: I can let you know if you’re doing it totally right or very, very wrong. And you’ll only get better from there!

Conclusion? Give me as much information as possible after your training sessions. That means better training sessions in the future, that will help you reach your goals faster. It takes a little bit of extra time, but it’s worth it every time.

I’ll be continuing this series over the coming months, so stay tuned.

Curtis’ August Training Log

If you’ve been involved in sports for any extended period of time, chances are you’ve sustained some type of injury. Whether it be minor or major, most people will go through their share of bumps and bruises along the way. This past January, I suffered a substantial glute strain while preparing for an upcoming powerlifting meet. I was around 14 weeks out from the competition, so I knew I had a good amount of time to put some attention towards proper recovery before I resumed my planned training. Over the next few weeks, I focused on doing specific rehab work in order to get myself back into training. I was feeling better each week. I wasn’t perfect, but I knew I was at a good enough point where I could compete, or so I thought. Three weeks out from the meet, I tore my hamstring during what were my final heavy deadlifts of the prep. Needless to say, I was not able to fully compete in the meet.


After getting multiple opinions, I decided to take 8 weeks off from any lower body resistance training in order to let the damaged area completely heal. I focused on PT exercises, light stretching, dry needling, and other various recovery modalities. Once I was able to return to training, things felt better, but something still wasn’t right. I swallowed my pride, put my ego aside, and looked for some professional help. After setting up an evaluation with my good friend and Physical Therapist, Jared Caroff, we discovered the underlying causes of my injuries. My right ankle had become locked up from a sprain which I had suffered a few years back. I never took the steps that I should have in order to properly rehab it, so as it healed, it became “locked up.” When this happens, other surrounding areas become at risk for future injury. In this case, that area was the knee joint. So, in order to protect the knee, the body placed more stress on the much larger and stronger hip joint in order to protect the knee. This caused mobility issues at both my right ankle and right hip. My glute stopped firing and my hamstring just couldn’t carry the load on its own anymore.


Now that we knew exactly what was going on, it was time to address each area individually and then the system as a whole. The following is a list of stretches and exercises that Jared and I put together, and their importance towards my performance.


  1. Ankle flossing: Restore movement by increasing ROM, decreasing inflammation, and promoting circulation in the area: Daily (5-7 minutes).
  2. Banded ankle distraction: Increase ankle mobility by working through soft tissue and joint restriction: Daily (3-5 minutes).
  3. Standing gastroc and soleus stretches: Promote increased ROM and elasticity in areas that were limited in activation: Daily (2-3 minutes)
  4. Single leg kettlebell pass: Build strength in the ankle stabilizers and promote ankle stability: 3-4 times per week (2 sets x 10 each hand).
  5. Standing and seated calf raise: Promote strength and stability throughout the newly established range of motion: 3-4 times per week (2 sets x 20 reps).
  6. Banded hip distraction & “Worlds greatest stretch” : Improve hip and thoracic mobility and focus towards correcting hip impingement: Daily (3-5 minutes).
  7. Banded lateral walks w/ high step emphasis: Glute activation, hip stability, and coordination: Daily (2 sets x 10 steps each direction).
  8. Copenhagen side plank: Improve adductor strength as well as hip & knee stability: 2-3 times per week (2 sets x 20-30 seconds each).
  9. 1 & 1.5 goblet squat: This movement is tying everything together. Focusing on the system properly performing as a whole and establishing the correct movement patterns: 3 times per week (4 sets of 5 reps).


Be sure to stop by and ask how this approach could help you reach your goals.

Lindsey’s Morning Routine and Avocado Toast

Mornings are sacred to me. Because I work long days and into the evenings, I don’t get a ton of time to decompress at night. I actually do most of my relaxing in the AM, before heading to work and to train. Fun fact: when UF first began, one of my requests was to work the opening shift. I function way better earlier than later. I didn’t get it (but stayed on anyway), and it ended up being a good thing for me.


We’ve talked about having routines in previous blogs, and I have my morning ritual fully hashed out:


Alarm goes off at 7:30am. I search for my sad dog. Snooze the alarm for 10 minutes of cuddle time. He takes it.


Out of bed and into the bathroom at 7:40. Regain my sight (aka contacts in), wash BB slobber off my face.


Start my coffee – French press always. Drink a glass of water with a little sea salt and lemon juice. Gotta rehydrate before I start guzzling caffeine.


Now that the weather is amazing, head out on the balcony with BB. I’m working through a meditation that lasts anywhere from 10-45 minutes as you build it (if you’re interested, I recently read Dr. Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself and it has been truly life-changing). Post-meditation, I start on my skincare (Vit C serum), my coffee, and a little reading (I’m re-reading and note-taking Ryan Holliday’s Ego is the Enemy currently). BB cuddles up with me. There’s always a candle going and a breeze and some plants. It’s heavenly.


By this time BB is fully awake and ready for his walk. We do a trip around the block, then he gets fed, then he goes back to sleep because he’s old. While he’s sleeping, I take 10 minutes to clean up my apartment. It’s a new habit I’m trying to build.



Notice no mention of my phone. I use my Amazon Echo for an alarm and keep my phone far away from me overnight. Only after doing some meditating and reading will I pick it up.


At this point, it’s time to eat. I’ve written about my low appetite struggles a lot recently and not much has changed. Getting something in me early in the day can sometimes help stoke the appetite fire, so I prioritize eating a delicious breakfast that’s full of both calories and nutrients. For me, it’s avocado toast all day. Every day. Seriously. I do have a special ingredient that I add, so read on:


Lindsey’s Special Avocado Toast

The What

  • 2 thick slices of good bakery bread (pumpernickel shown here, but usually sourdough)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 whole avocado
  • 1 tsp horseradish (yes I mean that)
  • Squirt of lemon or lime juice
  • Avocado oil for frying eggs
  • Salt, pepper
  • Whatever kind of fruit I have, usually mixed berries

The How

  1. Get the bread in the toaster oven.
  2. Set a medium pan over medium heat; add your preferred amount of oil for frying the eggs.
  3. Halve the avocado, dice it and scoop it out into a small mixing bowl. Add your horseradish, citrus juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash it up good. Set aside.
  4. Clean and cut your fruit, add to a little bowl.
  5. Fry your eggs, try to keep them separated. I do mine over pretty hard because it’s less messy. Cool to your desired level of doneness.
  6. When your bread is toasty, plate it and cover it in your avocado mash. It’ll be a lot, this is good.
  7. When the eggs are done, put one on each slice of toast.
  8. Take to a comfy spot and enjoy with coffee!

The horseradish gives it a kick and helps cut through all the fattiness of the avocado and egg yolks. If you haven’t tried it, I would HIGHLY recommend, just be sure you’re using real horseradish (from the refrigerated section) and not a horseradish sauce.


I usually eat at my desk and get started on work. It’s nice to get emails and administrative things out of the way before getting to the gym.


After eating, it’s time to get ready to leave. I have a habit of doing my hair and makeup while watching home design and lifestyle videos on YouTube. I let myself indulge in it right before heading out.


Once I’m presentable, BB gets another trip outside, then I’m off!


Hope this inspires some of you to (1) get a morning routine together and/or (2) to try something weird in your breakfast!

The Power of the Sauna

Heat exposure is not a new discovery.  Its benefits of cleansing, recovery, and purification have been recognized for thousands of years and used by many cultures. For the purposes of this article and for familiarity’s sake, we’re going to refer to a specific type of heat exposure: sauna use. The sauna is technically short exposure to high heat that results in hyperthermia. And hyperthermia is just an increase in your body’s core temperature, so don’t be alarmed! The optimal temperature of a sauna is between 175 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposure time can range from 5-20 minutes.


People use saunas for a variety of reasons, but a few of the most common are: increasing blood flow to sore muscles/joints via blood vessel dilation and the delivery of nutrients, stress reduction/relaxation, and for deep sweating to purify, cleanse, and detox the body.


I wanted to write this for two reasons.

  1. I am constantly engrossed in the many ways we can naturally recover better and potentially increase longevity.
  2. I wanted to share my findings in this blog to hopefully give you more tools to add to your routine to aid in both internal and external gym health.


FOUR noteworthy benefits of sauna use:



With sauna use comes many heart health benefits. When sitting in such high temperatures, our body requires the heart to work harder. Physiologically, heart rate increases like it would during a moderate-to-high intensity bout of physical exercise. This in part is due to the rising need for oxygen and blood flow to the skin to aid in the production of sweat. On average, most people lose about 1.1lbs of sweat in the sauna. We are told exercise is good for our heart…but why? Exercise improves arterial compliance. Exercise can aid in blood pressure regulation because of the stretch and relaxation that we progressively overload on the walls of our heart and vessels, as well as improving the efficiency of the left ventricle of the heart, the main driver. Like exercise, the sauna induces these responses. This does not mean you can nix the idea of exercise and just sit in the heat. It does mean that this a great addition to exercise, to further improve longevity, and to help us better handle stress.


Cardiovascular disease is the number one driver of death. If we can prevent this through lifestyle and behavior changes (ie. exercise, nutrition, sauna exposure, etc.) then we are one step ahead. In a pilot trial, 20 subjects with diagnosed peripheral artery disease (where the arteries that supply the head and extremities decrease and weaken), were given 50 sauna sessions for 10 weeks. After 10 weeks, the subjects showed improvements in walking, blood flow to the lower extremities, and a reduction in pain levels. [1] This study is one of many that show significant improvements in cardiovascular health from sauna use.


*Note: always consult with a doctor if you have any medical condition before introducing your body to high heat exposure.


Toxin reduction

Most of us sweat in some capacity. But, many of us do not DEEP sweat. Throughout our daily endeavors, we absorb many toxins in the environment. These toxins are chemicals and naturally-occurring metallic elements known as heavy metals: lead, cadmium, nickel, copper, mercury, and zinc. Studies have measured heavy metal levels in blood, sweat, and urine. Sweat is shown to have higher levels of these toxic elements than the others. Deeply sweating has been shown to get rid of these harmful metals. Sweating has been used for centuries to release chemicals and toxins that we pick up from day to day. So…with that being said, hop in a sauna or find ways to deeply sweat!


Cognitive health:

Heat exposure has the potential to be very beneficial for both mental health and cognition. Heat has the propensity to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein in the brain responsible for the production of new neurons. BDNF is found in parts of the brain such as the cortex, cerebellum, hippocampus, and basal forebrain. For cognitive function, we need both the generation of new neurons as well as optimal blood flow, two things that the sauna has been shown to improve.


Two studies exposed subjects to 176 degrees Fahrenheit of sauna heat, both showed a significant increase in norepinephrine levels (hormone/neurotransmitter) as well as an increase in prolactin (the pituitary hormone responsible for myelin growth- faster brain signaling). [2][3] What does this mean? Better focus.


Lastly, let’s touch on mental health. Have you ever noticed when leaving a sauna, you feel at ease and euphoric? Sauna use releases beta-endorphins, which are a part of our body’s opioid system. These are the same feel-good endorphins we receive from exercise.


Physical activity

As mentioned above, the sauna increases blood vessel dilation as well as the release of endorphins, both needed post-training. Why? Blood vessel dilation is going to improve circulation, delivery of nutrients needed for muscle repair, and a speedy recovery. Have you ever experienced the feeling of “hitting a wall” near the end of your workout? This is because your glycogen stores within your muscles are depleted. Therefore, it’s important to replenish those store. Some of the nutrients we receive via blood are glucose, fatty acids, oxygen, and growth hormones.


Sauna use has been shown to increase both growth hormone and heat shock proteins. Two mechanisms in the body for increasing hypertrophy and minimizing the muscular damage following a workout. Not only is this cool news for muscle growth, changing our body composition, and speeding up recovery, but also for preventing muscular atrophy – a result of aging, immobilization, and disease.


Another great benefit is heat acclimatization. Sauna use helps our body adapt to heat exposure making exercise more tolerable in high heat environments.


So, to recap how sauna use can benefit us in the gym: sauna use can improve heart function, which means better oxygen delivery to our working muscles. The heat exposure helps us improve our thermoregulation. We get an increase in both endogenous growth hormone and heat shock proteins. Plus, sauna use can increase red blood cell production. Another great addition to improve our work capacity.


I hope with some of these findings, we not only consider introducing more heat exposure but also, remember how important it is to keep asking how we can improve our body on an entire spectrum and not just gym recovery. If you are not a habitual sauna user, the best way to start is to go in for short 5-10 increments. Take short breaks and listen to your body. Gradually increase the length of heat exposure over time and remember to ALWAYS hydrate!



  1. Tei, Chuwa, Takuro Shinsato, Masaaki Miyata, Takashi Kihara, and Shuichi Hamasaki. Waon Therapy Improves Peripheral Arterial Disease Journal of the American College of Cardiology 50, no. 22 (November 2007): 2169-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2007.08.025.
  2. Hannuksela, Minna L, and Samer Ellahham. “Benefits and risks of sauna bathing” The American Journal of Medicine 110, no. 2 (February 2001): 118-26. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(00)00671-9.
  3. Laatikainen, T.,L. Salminen, A. Kohvakka, and J. Pettersson. “Response of plasma endorphins, prolactin and catecholamines in women to intense heat in a sauna” European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 57, no. 1 (1988): 98-102. doi: 10.1007/bf00691246.

Alison’s August Training Log

If you talk to any coach in the industry for long enough, they’ll tell you they face burn out in their own personal training from time to time.  As coaches, we want to gift our time, energy and attention to the positive changes that are taking place within our clients’ lives.  It’s not uncommon to give so much of yourself to your clients that there isn’t much leftover for your own endeavors.  Sometimes our own training gets set to the side.  My dedication to my clients is unwavering and I wish I could say the same about my training.  But here I am, and I’m accepting that it’s just a phase in my life right now. 


So to accommodate the burnout I’m feeling in my training, I switched my focus to full body training days.  This way, if I can only manage to fit in one or two sessions a week at least I’ll hit all the major body parts. I have three days per week programmed and lately I’d call it a great week if I get to all three. C’est la vie, I guess!


Below is day 1:


A1. Zercher Box Squats 3×6

A2. SL D-Ball Walking Lunge 3x one Turf Length per Leg

B1. Tempo RDL’s [3 sec ecc. 3 sec bottom pause 3 sec top pause] 3×8

B2. Ring Rows 3x 15

C1. Bench Press 3×5

C2. Eccentric Cable High Row 3×8

D1. Pause Leaning Lateral Raise 3×8

D2. Back Ext. Oblique Twist 3x 15

Meal of the Week – Alison’s Edamame Noodles

Say hello to my newest obsession: Edamame Noodles. 


I stumbled upon these bad boys at Aldi this weekend while my kids were searching for the perfect noodle. (Unbeknownst to me, I might have found mine too!) They settled upon linguine and I popped these organic, gluten free & vegan noodles in the cart too.  A good gluten free noodle is hard to come by, so naturally I was a little wary.  I’m happy to report that they got a gold star from me!


  • Tastes good
  • Fast cook time
  • Cheap
  • Healthy
  • Versatile


I’m always excited to find a noodle that has a hefty amount of protein and just one serving (about 2 oz dry) packs a massive 24g of protein, only 20g of carbs and 3.5g of fat.  Wins all around!


For lunches this week, I tossed the noodles in about ½ teaspoon of pesto sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, paired with BBQ grilled chicken and fresh from the farm green beans.

Welcome to our New Director of Personal Training, Curtis Miller!

We’re a few weeks too late, but we thought it was about time we formally introduced the UF community to our new Director of Personal Training, Curtis Miller!


Curtis has some big shoes to fill and has already taken off running with the position. You’ll likely see him here at all hours of the day with clients, in consults, at the desk, and teaching some #powerful classes. If you haven’t introduced yourself yet, please do!


Here’s Curtis, in his own words:


While growing up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, sports became my number one focus and priority very early on. Like most young athletes, I began playing sports at the age of 4. Baseball and soccer quickly became my specialties. While I did continue to play for the next 14 years until I graduated from High school, I decided against playing at the collegiate level. When I enrolled in college at Salisbury University in 2010, I had my mind made up that my focus would be on my education and beginning my career. During that time, I obtained my first certification as a personal trainer and began building my clientele.


While becoming more serious with my health and exercise, I was introduced to the sport of powerlifting and was instantly hooked. I decided to compete in my first meet in the spring of 2013. During my first 2 years of powerlifting, I was also attending school full time, interning with the university’s Strength & Conditioning program, and held two jobs as a personal trainer and a physical therapy tech. Although those were a challenging couple of years, they taught me the values of working hard and dedicating myself to my goals, and let me realize the passion I have for helping others reach their personal goals.   


In the spring of 2014, I graduated with a Bachelors Degree of Exercise Science, while also becoming a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association. Over the next 5 years, I began my career as a S&C coach while continuing to pursue my goals in powerlifting. One of these goals included competing at the XPC Finals in Columbus Ohio. It was there that I met The Casey Williams. He quickly became a mentor and close friend, and our relationship continued to grow as I periodically made the trip to Pittsburgh to train. Over the next two years, I continued to further my career in my hometown, but knew that I had much more to offer. With Ryan’s decision to further pursue his goals, I was fortunate enough to be considered for the the the Director of Personal Training position at Union Fitness.


I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be here and greatly look forward to helping Union Fitness grow and evolve into an even stronger community.

Lindsey’s Training Log – Fixing My Squat

One of the biggest benefits of working at a strength-focused gym is the input your coworkers can give on your training. Casey caught me squatting a week ago and told me something I never thought I’d hear: my quads were the weak link in my squat and I need to focus on bringing them up. 


I’ve been “quad-dominant” my whole life, meaning I have a hard time using my glutes and posterior chain in most movements – instead, my quads “take over” the movement and do the majority of the work. I’ve spent most of the last two years working on activating and using my posterior chain in my lifting, so now I guess it’s time to change things up!


Because of running so much, I need to be careful about (re)incorporating quad-focused work. I squat and then do a hard interval run on Tuesdays. I need my legs to be as close to recovered as possible for my long run on Saturday. 


I started this a few days ago, and I’ll be honest, I’m still a little sore. I think I’ll be fine for a good run tomorrow though.


Movement Planned Achieved
1 Front Squat Work up to a heavy triple 195×3, 175x3x3
2 SSB Pause Squat, light 3×5 3×5 @ 155
3a SSB Bulg. Split Squat, light 3×8 3×8 @ just the bar
3b GHR 3×10 3×10
3c Band Monster Walk 3 trips 3 (long) trips
4a Single Leg Squat to Box 3×8 per 3×8 per, med. box
4b Single Leg RDL 3×8 per 3×8 per @ 35
4c Stability Ball Hamstring Complex 3×10 each 3×10 each
5a Hanging Leg Raises 3×15 3×15
5b Side Plank Dips 3×10 per 3×10 per
6 Interval Run 1 mile warm-up easy

3 x 1200m @ 7:13 pace

Meal of the Week – Lindsey’s Berry Protein Smoothie

Lindsey’s Berry Protein Smoothie


I’ve been training hard and frequently this summer, and with my fall goals, that’s not going to change anytime soon. With increased activity comes a need for increased calories, and over the last few weeks, I’ve been falling short.


Normally lots of running increases a person’s appetite, but for me it seems to have the opposite effect. There are probably some other factors, but when it comes down to it, I really just need to eat more. 


On really intense training days (aka when my appetite is lowest but caloric need highest), I add in a smoothie with some protein in it. If you’re having a hard time getting food in, drinking it is a great hack. It doesn’t register as “filling” in the same way as a meal you need to chew. 


My normal smoothie is full of greens, pineapple, mango, and banana (it tastes like a pina colada) but this morning I was fresh out of tropical frozen fruit. Instead, I went with a childhood favorite – a triple berry smoothie.


Here’s what we’re working with: 



I really just estimate amounts, but I have been tracking my food intake for the past few weeks as I adjust to eating more, so today, I measured roughly:



1 Scoop Vega Vanilla Protein + Greens (I’d use whey protein if I could, it doesn’t sit well)

3-5 big frozen strawberries

1 small handful frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon Almond Butter (for healthy fats and deliciousness)

Dash of cinnamon

Sprinkle in some chia seeds (more on this later)

Teaspoon of Acai powder (for my third berry type, for extra antioxidants, but mostly for color)

4 oz unsweetened nut milk (cashew here)

8 oz cold water




How to:


Seriously, just throw it all in a blender and gooooo.


The macros:


350 calories

26g of protein

37g of carbohydrate

12g of fat


Some tips:


  • I use a relatively small amount of nut milk because the protein powder already lends a pretty milky, creamy flavor. Overdoing the milk makes it taste too “heavy.”
  • If you can, let it sit for a little while. That way, the chia seeds soak up some of the liquid and reach their cool, chewy texture. Otherwise, they’re just a little crunchy.
  • The Acai powder is super extra (I went through an antioxidant powder hoarding phase). Regular blueberries are plenty. I really just like the color it lends.


I’ll slurp this up right after finishing up some interval training tonight (and I can’t wait). My body will need the protein and carbs the most at that point!

Ryan Mcumber, Signing Off…

Here is the last UF blog post I will ever write. As dramatic as it may sound, I am just going from full time to part time at Union Fitness. But it has been amazing to get the support that I have received from everyone before leaving.


I have decided to go back to school (CCAC) to redo some prerequisites to make myself more competitive to apply to Physical Therapy schools in a year. Physical Therapy schools become more and more competitive each year but I am very excited to go for it to see if I can get in. 


After working for Union Fitness full time for about a year and half, I have learned a lot about being coach. I believe every coach should strive for these three things. 


  1. Constantly try to learn more  
  2. Stay humble
  3. Make people feel welcome 


Striving to learn more:

Every coach should be actively trying to learn more. This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how complacent some coaches get. This doesn’t mean that a coach should bring a new exercise to every workout- the basic’s work. But I always love to learn new ways to teach the basics. This allows the coach to be prepared when his/her favorite cue doesn’t work. Learning different cues, set-ups and warm-ups can be beneficial when people are coming to your classes with all sorts of health and injury backgrounds. If I have a football player and a professional speed walker, there is a strong possibility that I need two methods to teach the squat. I have been fortunate to steal a lot of ideas from my fellow coaches at UF.


Staying humble:

This is one of the harder things for any coach, especially me coming  straight  out of college. Of course with my degree and only 6 months of experience I was the best coach of all the land. Even though I was willing to learn, I wanted to show everyone how much I knew. 


Now things are much different. It takes a few coaches to show you really how little you know. After this realization I made sure to ask every coach numerous question’s. I wanted to see how they set-up class, how they taught a certain exercise, how do they approach a large class size vs a small one, how they structured their programs and a lot more. It benefited me drastically to ask every coach I can find questions. Union is fortunate to have some knowledgeable and experienced coaches that I have annoyed with my questions. 


Making people feel welcome:

After my experience at UF, I now believe that this is the most important part of being a coach. 


At one point of working full time I had the opportunity to hire someone new. I was thinking about the criteria that I wanted and questions I was ready to ask. The first things that came to mind were: did they have an exercise science degree, years of experience, and what type of weightlifting background they had. As important as these are, if you are unable to convey the information or even worse not be very welcoming in the gym then none of the credentials matter. If the coach is not a nice person then this knowledge is wasted. 


A coach must help people feel like the gym is a place where they can try all new things without any sort of embarrassment. A coach must create an environment that not only people wanted to come back to but are looking forward to coming to class. Maybe  not  the Cardio Lab, since that class is rough, but most classes. If anything else I hope that I created this environment for everybody. I hope that people felt excited to take my classes and more importantly come to Union. 


I believe after spending the last couple weeks coaching and working hands on with Curtis that he has all of these qualities and I am excited to have him take over my position at UF. I will help by working on the weekends and doing a little personal training here and there. If you start to miss me, come see me on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday!