All posts by rnagy

CeJ Mustache You A Question

Hello to my hairy, well groomed, bald and hairless Brothers & Sisters of Union!


I have a very important task I mustache you to partake in. I want your voice to be heard, and I need you to vote! Yes, of course go vote on November 3rd for a few of those political blokes, but this one has the fate of my face on the ballot.


Your options for this vote are Movember (Grow a Mustache) or No-Shave November (Grow it All).


Movember: is an annual event involving the growing of mustaches during the month of November. This is done to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and men’s suicide. The Movember Foundation runs the Movember charity event, housed at The goal of Movember is to “change the face of men’s health.”


By encouraging men (whom the charity refers to as “Mo Bros”) to get involved, Movember aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths. Besides annual check-ups, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of family history of cancer and to adopt a healthier lifestyle.Using the mustache as the driving symbol of the movement, Movember focuses on the three key areas of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health & suicide prevention.


No-Shave November: The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose and letting it grow wild & free. Also, donating the money you typically spend on shaving and grooming to educate about cancer prevention, save lives and aid those fighting the battle.  


Whatever charity has the most votes, is what I will rock on my face for that month, set up a UF charity page and continue to educate everyone on these health issues. Please vote in the comments, DM and share this blog and let’s spread the word on men’s health.


Cheers my friends and let me hear you SCREAM!



Jocelyn’s Training Log

One thing I’ve been working hard on is my headspace and mentality when it comes to training. I like to describe myself as being deer-esque, which if you know me personally is so true because I’m very light, happy, and everywhere all at once kind of person. I know when it’s time to compete and be serious but channeling anger, attacking the bar and digging deep within myself is not an everyday reachable thing for me.


Over the past several weeks I’ve been working on really channeling this intense energy and pushing myself to a limit I feel like I wouldn’t be able to sustain, but I sit there, in discomfort, and just put my soul into the workout/training piece.


Last week we had our typical team training session which included a very gnarly 21-minute same sex, team conditioning. I was the shadow on a 2-person team, this means I will do the same scheme of work as one partner (mimicking their efforts but being there for an extra push for both partners). It’s not always fun being a “shadow” because you feel your effort doesn’t count but I took this mentality and pushed even harder whilst pushing my other two team members in the process.


This was the workout:




Buy-in: 32 cal bike (split however with a partner)

100-yard sled push (45#x2) *I did 50 yards

MAX squat clean in remaining time (135#)

Finished with: 10 squat cleans




Buy-in: 40 cal bike (split however with a partner)

100-yard sled push (45#x2) *I did 50 yards

MAX squat clean (145#)

Finished with: 9 squat cleans




Buy-in: 45 cal bike (split however with a partner)

100-yard sled push (45#x2) *I did 50 yards

MAX squat clean (155#)

Finished with: 9 squat cleans


Normally I would look at a workout like this and be wary that I could even move the 155# bar as I did during this workout, the fact that I attacked each rep and got roughly around the same reps per round/weight is a win for me. The most rewarding feeling is when your coach comes up to you not once but twice to tell you how happy they were with how you executed the workout and how they are noticing the mentality shift you’ve been working on.


I left this session proud of myself, 155# is only 30# off of my best clean and even a few weeks back I hit 5# off of my max at the end of a disgustingly rough workout. Both of these times my mentality was strong, I dug my heels in and I didn’t pull back.


I’m not entirely sure what we’re training for right now besides the CrossFit Games Open in February when our 2021 season begins but I’m here, working hard because this is no time to sit back and relax, it’s all about the grind right now, so here I am.

Have Some Fun and Improve with Us

Last week I wrote about knowing our Why. Why are we here working in a gym? We are here to empower, educate and entertain everyone who enters our gym. Through this, we are offering a few different mediums to accomplish these goals. Today I want to highlight some of what we are doing and hopefully, something here will pique your interest.


  1. USPA Drug Tested Kabuki Open (Sat Oct, 31st 9 AM). This is a powerlifting meet that will be held under the tent here at UF. The meet is sold out, yet if you want to experience competitive powerlifting for the first time, we encourage you to stop by. The entry fee is only 5 dollars, and the tent will be heated so no worries about the weather.
  2. Getting Lean for Halloween Bootcamp (Sat Oct, 31st 11 AM). Join CeJ and Matt Grayson as they run you through a bootcamp in the parking lot of one of the finest breweries in Pittsburgh, Allegheny City Brewing. This outdoor workout will be one hour long before sharing some libation at ACB’s outdoor beer garden. This class is free for everyone.
  3. Comedy Bootcamp (Fri Nov, 6th 6 PM). This is a first for us here at UF. We will be holding a bootcamp followed by a comedy show with three local comedians. We will also have The Yard bringing food and libations. This class is also free for everyone
  4. Kabuki Squat, Bench, Deadlift Workshop (Fri Oct, 30th 3-7 PM). UF is hosting the Kabuki Squat, Bench, Deadlift Workshop in our performance lab. If you are serious about improving these lifts, I suggest you look into this workshop. Kyle Young of Kabuki Strength will cover all things squat, bench and deadlift related in this workshop. This event is 150 dollars and registration is through the Kabuki Strength website.


As you can see it will be a busy few weeks here at UF, and we will have more to come. As with everything we do, we will be requiring masks with anything indoors. Safety and health are of the utmost importance to us. 

Weekly Wrap Up

Happy Friday Union fam, it’s been another solid week here at the facility and we’re ever so thankful as always for everyone who is part of this community. This is an especially weird time, but for those of you who have returned we thank you for allowing us to continue to do what we love every single day.


We’re back with a fresh group of faces you’ve probably see around here daily. These coaches/trainers have some kind words to say about the week they have had here with all of you, find their wrap-ups below.


Haley Tamilia:


The last week at Union Fitness was a real treat. Friday morning brought new and familiar faces to our 6AM Vinyasa practice. I’ve been enjoying the spaciousness and ambiance of Nova Place, where we’ve been able to practice on the second level with colorful lights and floor to ceiling windows. 


I returned in the evening for yin, surprised by the number of folks who came to find peace. Yin classes on Friday and Saturday feel like a gift to me; while I lead mantras and suggest shapes, I’m not a teacher when I’m there. I’m a member of a loving, present community. We sit together, breathe together, and create space in our bodies, minds, and hearts. 


The workweek started anew, and I was joined by Thad and Gabe, two dedicated yogis who have been joining me consistently for 6AM Vinyasa. After flowing around the mat, Gabe told me how his immersion into yoga has brought clarity, focus, and productivity to his days–even earning him a recent promotion. 


I’m so grateful for all of my students, and looking forward to what next week may hold!


Toria Crispin:


I covered our Saturday Cardio Lab class this past weekend and that crew absolutely killed it even though it was a pretty cold morning. On Monday night, I helped Curtis out with the 5:30pm and 6:00pm #Powerful class which was a great experience. I loved seeing everyone put in the work on their Monday squat day. I also coach the Tuesday and Thursday 6:00pm #Powerful classes alongside CJ as well as the Friday 5:30pm #Powerful class – I’ve had some solid crews coming in and crushing it these past few weeks. You guys are awesome, and I love working out with you!


(Special shoutout: Lisa, Pawel, Terrance, Brian, Kirsten, Christian, Alp, Mohan, and Milind for recently putting in the work here with me) .


Matt Grayson:


I have been considerably lucky because I have had beautiful weather for all my classes. And I believe that our members workout harder when the weather is nice. My motto is “I LOVE HARD WORK” and I have to say in each one of my classes, the members have destroyed my workouts. I get excited to see them push and to persevere through my “easy” workouts!! 


The energy they generate is contagious throughout the gym, which makes UF the best place to train and coach at!!!


Curtis’s Training Log

I am currently 2 weeks out from my next powerlifting meet. It has been one year since I stepped on the platform. As far as my training goes, one of the best things that happened over this past year was forced downtime. For 10 weeks, I was unable to train with any sort of actual equipment. During that time, I was confined to my garage with only a few resistance bands, some cinderblocks, and 2 bags of rice, that’s it. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, my body was hurting and in need of a break from lifting. This was the first time in the 12 years that I have been training and took more than a week off of any barbell training, that’s 12 years of putting a bar on my back and in my hands almost every single week. We never realize it at the time, but it adds up and can accumulate a great deal of fatigue when not addressed.


When those 10 weeks of quarantine ended, I was mentally and physically refreshed and ready to get back into training. My body felt great, my mind was clear, and I was more motivated than I have been in a very long time. After a couple of months of getting back into the grove, I picked a meet, put a plan together, set my goals, and got to work. With the help of my training partners, I am currently feeling the strongest and healthiest that I ever have.


Listed below is a layout of my last 3 training sessions. One for squat, one for bench, and one for deadlift.


Day 1: Heavy squat:


Competition squat: Worked up to a top single at 755lbs.

Belt squat machine: 5 plates per side: 4×10

Leg extensions: 50lbs: 4×15

Leg curls: 50lbs: 4×15

Ab rollouts: 3×15


Day 2: Heavy bench:


Competition bench: Worked up to a top single at 425.

Competition bench: Backdowns: 345lbs: 3×2

Flat bench fatbell press: 120lbs: 4×10

Chest supported row: 90lbs: 4×10

Dead stop skull crushers: 125lbs: 4×10

Band pull aparts: Red band: 5×20


Day 3: Last heavy deadlift:


Competition deadlift; Worked up to a top single at 765lbs.

Bent over barbell rows: 185lbs: 4×10

Cable lat pulldowns: 200lbs: 3×12

Leg extensions: 50lbs: 3×15

Leg curls: 50lbs: 3×15


My goal this meet is to break a 2000lb total. This is something that I have been working towards for a long time. Anything can happen on the day of the meet, the only thing that I can do is prepare to the best of my abilities and trust in myself and everything that I have done up to this point. The rest has already been decided.

ACB Spooky Bootcamp Brews & Boos

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!!!


Spooky season is in full effect with pumpkin spice lattes at every corner, scary movies on each night, and Grayson & I coming to lay down a Trick or Treat Bootcamp on October 31st, 11am at Allegheny City Brewery parking lot.


This will be a free charity bootcamp that anyone can come get spooky at. We ask our non-members to sign a quick waiver before you get your Saturday Scaries on. Please bring any canned goods you can spare as we will be donating all to a local food bank.


You know when Grayson and I get together, you are in for a nice couple of tricks! Have no fear, at the end, we’ll hook you up with the first round of treats and some cold brews from our good friends at ACB!


Like, comment, and share this article so we can have some spooky fun, show support to a local business and community!


It’s Showtime!

Staying Grounded

Every Saturday morning at 5:30AM you can find me at RAW with my other competitive teammates doing our weekly team training. A few weeks back our coach programmed a 40 minute piece that required a 14# vest, men wear 20# (mine happened to be 17# and that was rough). Normally vested workouts are something I look forward too, MURPH being one of my favorite workouts but this one was different.


Since quarantine my anxiety has been at an all time high. I have found it is at its worst whenever I have heavy snatches or high-effort breathing (usually movements pared together where catching your breath just might not happen and it’s all about how calm you can stay). Now imagine yourself doing a CrossFit-esque programmed workout and add a 17# vest onto your body that inhibits your ability to catch your breath fully. For 40 minutes I found myself on the verge of a full on panic-attack, I even had one of my teammates tell me for the entirety of that workout to keep breathing deeply. 


Picture this in your head, going from one movement to another (I was paired with a female teammates to spit the work) and I am on my hands and knees during my rest portions just trying to catch my breath – This is when I knew it was bad and after the workout was done I ripped off my vest and I just laid there trying to get full breaths in.


The reason I bring this up is because staying grounded not only to avoid a possible panic/anxiety attack but in your life is an important quality to possess. When we focus all of our time and attention into one thing, make it our top priority and forget about how vast life is and stay single-minded focus, we give that one thing the ability to control our thoughts and feelings. What happens if you fail? What happens if you succeed? What do you truly have to show for?


Staying grounded keeps you honest, humble and aligned throughout your entire life. This is exactly something that staying grounded to avoid that possible panic/anxiety attack does as well, it helps you find that calm again. When I feel these feelings of tightness in my chest, I look around me and do the following (a list of things sent to me to help me stay grounded).


1. Breath deeply in through my nose and out through my mouth

2. Then I will look around me to find:

5 things I can see

4 things I can touch

3 things I can hear

2 things I can smell 

1 emotion I feel


During a workout I mainly focus on breathing deeply and pick 5 things I can see – I’ll usually make eye contact with someone or try and cheer someone else on (even if their not on my team for that workout) this allows me to gather myself for a brief moment and find comfort in my peers whilst still being able to focus on the task I’m trying to complete, something that works for me.


Staying grounded in your daily life looks a little different but the application is the same, allowing yourself to prioritize other aspects of your life such as family, relationships or things that make you genuinely happy aside from the one thing that is your main goal. When we maintain balance with all things that make our life great, the achievements we obtain tastes that much sweeter. This mindset is more sustainable than one that isolates and secludes us from other aspects of our life, creating that longing sense of what next if we achieve greatness or find ourselves depressed if we are teetering on the edge of failure. 


The panic that set in whilst in the middle of that 40 minuet workout with my 17# vest is something I will feel on any given day if I do not have balance present within my life. My biggest takeaway from this experience is to always find my footing when life or experiences hit me in the face and stay grounded in what makes me feel calm.


If you too find yourself overwhelmed during training or life, take these tips and find your footing again.

Know Your Why

This week I officially celebrate one year working here at UF. I have learned much about running a gym and have made plenty of mistakes this past year. It has been a year unlike any other. I spent much of the time when we were closed considering a question many of us have asked. Why do we do what we do.


You may be asking yourself, isn’t “Start with Why,” the title of a book? Yes it is. In my 20’s and into my 30’s I read many books of the self help/success genre. As I have moved into my 40’s I have diversified my reading immensely. Much like training when you read you should grow with the books you read and the books you are currently reading should lead you down a path to more in-depth books. Just as your training should evolve, so should your mind.


This leads me back to our why. As a gym/training center/performance center our why is to help you improve. Now we can ask,  “How can we do this?” As I see it, we are a lifestyle company as well as an entertainment company. Lifestyle as we help people live and lead a better lifestyle. Entertainment as we want to make this a fun and exciting environment.


Knowing our why we have now added one more way to add to your lifestyle. Next to the cardio lab we have added a bookshelf. This bookshelf is our mini-library. You may notice the sign that says, take a book, leave a book, just please read more. This is our goal for our mini-library. All books are there for anyone who wants them and we hope you may even add to our books by dropping off a book that once helped you grow.


Thanks and please read more.

Weekly Wrap Up

Alright Union fam, every Friday we are going to start doing a weekly recap of the things that have gone on inside of Union, clients who worked their tails off with our personal trainers or members who we saw crush it in class or on social media (tag us, we love it!). 


All of our trainers/coaches will be writing their recaps in their own words, so be sure to read our blog every Friday for all the happenings within Union Fitness though our employees eyes.


Jocelyn Lemay:


Between Piyush, Women’s Powerful and Cardio Lab, my week was awesome. I really look forward to my Tuesday Cardio Lab because it’s the same crew and this week I had a treat of two new faces in my class, Ryan and Brendan whom crushed it along with the rest of the class! I was certainly having an off morning until I came into coach, these guys had me amped with their effort and energy.


This week for Women’s Powerful in class it was just me and Diane, we had ourselves a solid hour. We have been working on our stability in a split stance/lunge position and she continues to impress me weekly, keep it up girl!


Lastly, Piyush has been putting time into his Olympic Weightlifting. We’ve been cleaning up his positions and working on committing to each movement, he pushes hard and I just have to shout him out for hitting a 260# Back Squat double when his 1RM is 265#!


Curtis Miller:


Over the past couple of weeks, our Cardio Lab and Powerful Classes have been on the rise. The addition of the new Performance Lab has been great for accommodating new and existing members, and providing them with the best training experience possible.


Long time member Kim Judy will be leaving us after 2 and a half years as she begins her new journey in Ohio. Kim was active in Cardio and Powerful class 3-4 times per week and was always a blast to work with. Although she will be moving on, her spirit and positivity still remains with us.


Erika Osorio hit a very good deadlift personal record. Erika began taking classes in June as a beginner to our Powerful class. After just a few months she has developed a solid base of strength, conditioning, and technique that will continue to keep her progressing.


Haley has been doing an amazing job with Yoga classes. She has even been going out into the community introducing her Yoga classes to members and non members all around the city. She most recently taught a free Yoga session at Market Square. Be sure to ask about her upcoming classes.


Cayt Neff:


Allie has transitioned from front squat and is now learning how to back squat. She also attempted the GHR for the first time and worked up to 8 reps!


Harry is approaching his two year mark since being diagnosed with an aggressive form of Glioblastoma. Since then he has completed treatment and is now receiving clean scans each visit. We started working together prior to his diagnosis and he has not skipped a beat since the very beginning. His approach to life is admirable and exemplifies a way that all would benefit. He recently had an opportunity to film an interview with Ryan Shazier and that video is posted today, October 16th through UPMC!


I’m so proud of the work ethic and attitude of all of my clients. Go Sharon, Kirsten, Deirdre, Allie, Nick, Harry, and Yiqun – you are the best and make my week.


To my Wednesday evening cardio lab crew (Steph, Raelynn, Terrence, and Kyra): way to finish a tough workout! We also saw a golden retriever puppy :).


Cody Miller:


Andrew Tennenbaum has shown a substantial amount of resilience the past couple weeks by continuing his training through a recent accident. I’m proud of him.


Nate Kimel has been ridiculously consistent and is doing the things necessary to decrease his pain. He’s a stud. I’m proud of him.


Ashley Koltonski is a trooper. Super focused and disciplined. She’s getting better at everything every week. I’m proud of her.


Kyle Hartenstein is a rocket ship. You would think that his job was making gainz the way his training has been going. I’m proud of him.


Eric Price makes improvements every week. Loves training and gives a great effort every week. I’m proud of him.


Dave Jackson:


I just want to give a huge shoutout to everyone I work with on a weekly basis!


From my people who show up at 5:30 and 6:30 in the morning to get work done before their real work begins and my personal training clients too.


I love y’all and look forward to the continued work we do together!!!

One Simple Cue that will Help Your Squat & Deadlift

When performing the squat and deadlift, we’ve all heard and incorporated the basic cues. Things such as “back flat”, “chest up”, and “eyes straight ahead”, are amongst the list of things which we focus on during each training session, and at this point they have most likely become second nature. There is however one cue that we often miss which could have a tremendous impact on our progress within these two lifts, and that is “head back”.


A majority of the time (especially when the weight begins to get heavy) we lose track of what our body is doing as we become focused solely on lifting the weight. When this happens, one of the first things we might notice is that our head begins to stick out far in front of the weight, which then causes our body to follow. When performing the squat and the deadlift, we want as much of our body in line or behind the bar as possible. By doing this, we can keep a majority of the weight centered over our body which will increase our likelihood of completing the lift while decreasing the risk of injury. 


The next time you squat and deadlift, record yourself from the side. When you go back and watch the video, look at how you moved, and then take a look at your head position prior to, and throughout the entirety of the lift. If you notice that your head is drifting out, pack it up! This is how…


Squat: On the squat, make sure that this is something that you are focusing on as you unrack the bar. As you descend into your squat, drive your head back into your neck & traps about 50%. Then as soon as you start to ascend out of the bottom, drive your head back 100%. What you will find is that you are now able to better initiate the movement with your sternum coming up first as opposed to having your hips shoot up first.


Deadlift: On the deadlift, this is a technique that we want to apply from the very beginning. As we bend down to grab the bar, we should already be working on getting our head position where we want it. Then, as soon as we begin to initiate the pull, we want to pull our head back into our traps as hard as possible. When done correctly, this will assist us in making sure that our sternum rises first, and then our hips, instead of the other way around.


Give it a shot and let me know what you think. Stay strong, my friends.