All posts by rnagy

New Ryde Instructor Spotlight – Marlee

Hi, I’m Marlee Musico! My interest in indoor cycling classes started about 15 years ago when I was a student at Slippery Rock University. However, I became a more avid indoor/outdoor cyclist when I signed up for my first triathlon in 2018 and heavily relied on attending classes several times per week to supplement my training. When Union Fitness added the Ryder bikes last year, it was perfect timing for me to quit my big box gym membership, join UF, and incorporate Ryde classes into tri training. 


The Ryde instructors quickly captivated me with their high energy and creative class structure. I’m humbled to join their team! After having an indoor cycling instructor certification go unused for four years, I decided I would give it a go when a new instructor position became available. I’m having a lot of fun creating playlists, planning the choreography, and meeting so many new faces. You can catch me on Sunday mornings at 9am. I hope to see you in class!



How You Can Support Women’s Sports

In honor of Women’s Month, I thought I would give you all some ways you can actively support women’s sports. One of the most important ways is to actively work on changing the conversation. This includes thinking about how we speak on the world of sports with others. For example, with it being March Madness time, when somebody asks you about your bracket just by saying “men’s or women’s bracket?” we can change the conversation and build awareness. Here is the link to fill out your own bracket for the Women’s NCAA tournament, 2023 Division I Women’s Basketball Official Bracket | .


Another very easy way we can support is by sharing posts on social media. Instagram and Twitter are a great way to market. Just by sharing a female athlete’s post, game schedule, or highlight reel, you can help them reach an even larger audience. Using your platform to openly support women’s sports can make a much bigger difference than you may think.


Another active way you can support women’s sports is by attending games or watching them on tv. Look up your local women’s sports team schedules at all levels, you may have a professional women’s team in your city and never have realized it! There is also a TV network called Women’s Sports Network. The Women’s Sports Network is a free, ad-supported, 24/7 streaming destination available on Amazon Freevee, FuboTV, LG Channels on LG Smart TVs, Local Now, Plex,, Tubi and Xumo that spotlight women’s sports content. To find out more visit The Wait is Over, The Women’s Sports Network Has Arrived ( .


You can also volunteer as a coach for teams like girls flag football at your local school, volunteer as a line judge for volleyball tournaments, or even help set up for their home sporting events. A good resource to find these opportunities can be found at Get Involved with SportsPITTSBURGH – Visit Pittsburgh. Or reach out to your local schools to see where you can be of help. One of the biggest ways you can help out women’s sports is also by supporting their fundraisers, or becoming a sponsor, whether it is you personally or if you are a business owner. This can benefit both parties, it is a great marketing opportunity for the sponsors and can help fund a women’s sports team’s travel and other expenses.


If you ever have any questions about how you can get more involved and support women in sports, feel free to ask me the next time you see me at Union Fitness!



Rep Ranges, Do They Matter?

No matter what your goal is when you enter the gym you will always have to decide what rep range to train at. Today I want to spend a few minutes giving you an overview of rep ranges, and why they matter. A small disclaimer here is important, I will not really delve into every possible variable in training. We could spend hours reviewing rep speed, isometrics, and timed sets. Today’s goal will be to give you a basic overview of reps and why different rep ranges are important.


High Reps 15-25. 


In the realm of strength training this would be a high rep set. I have done sets of over 100 yet that is not the norm and generally 15-25 would be the highest one needs to train. I will give you a short list of pros and cons.



Increase mydocondrial density. The mydocondria (as you may remember from HS science class) is the powerhouse of the cell. When we get stronger and add to the size of muscle fiber we reduce mydocondrial density. In order to increase mydocondria we must train in higher rep ranges.

Increased vascularization of the muscle. We want more blood pumped into the tissue so adding blood vessels is an easy way to do accomplish this. Adding more reps will add more arterials to the muscle you are training.

Less stress on the joint. Due to the lighter load that you must use during high rep training the stress on the joints will be less.

Great Pump. Everyone loves a great pump



Limited strength gains. High rep training will not increase strength in a significant way over the long haul.

Adds fatigue with little benefit. When doing high rep work the first 10-15 reps will add stress without adding much else to the training session. You must be careful when using this style of training that you don’t overuse certain joints.

Hard to recover from this training. Depending on the movement high rep work can take a long time to recover from. If you are squatting or deadlifting and using high reps you will have to take many days to recover before returning to this movement. I’d generally recommend use high reps for smaller movements.


Mid Range Reps 8-12


Pick up any bodybuilding magazine and you will see a ton of work done using these reps. 3X10 is always popular.




Load is heavy enough to make some strength gains. Weight can be 60-80% of your 1 rep max. With this load and rep range you can absolutely increase overall strength.


Easier to recover from than high rep training. Due to less reps the overall stress can be less.


Easier to get more sets in. You could do 3-6 sets and build more volume with this rep range than with the higher rep ranges.




Still not heavy enough to be very specific for absolute strength work.


Not mentally challenging enough. Over the years I have met a ton of people that live in this rep range and are afraid to go for the heavy sets. Lower reps will add a little fear to your life and this can be a very good thing in training and in life.



Lower rep ranges 1-5.


This is the the rep range that you should earn in your training. What I mean by that is in order to do 1-5 reps per set you must prepare yourself by doing the work that leads you to heavy sets.




Low rep and heavy load training will increase strength. The body will only adapt to the stress you place upon it. If you wish to be stronger you must do some low rep work.


Low rep training will teach you to brace. I’ve heard all the fancy words and phrases thrown around with no context. Brace, engage your core, tighten up, and many more. If you want to learn to brace unrack a heavy weight and you’ll begin to understand all of this.


Low rep training is a challenge. Overcome fear and hit a weight you have never attempted before.




Stress! If you go the well too often you will either not make progress or get injured. Low rep training is hard on the body so shouldn’t be used more than once a month.


Low rep training is very specific to the movement. This means that some exercises are not made for low rep training. Large multi-joint movements are best, while uni-lateral, and isolation exercises don’t work well with lower rep ranges.


Chance of acute injury can increase in low rep training. Due to the extreme loads used during this style of training one must be careful. Use competent spotters (UF has a ton of these so ask), be mentally engaged with the lift, and don’t push too far beyond your current limits.


There it is a basic overview of rep ranges. Now I am going to challenge you in your own training. Do something different! It does not matter what you do different, just do something different. If you have been stuck with your 3X10 workout, try 5×5. If you have been doing singles, go for 4X8. Whatever change you make ride it out for a few weeks.





CJ’s Funky 6

Hiya, my mobile muscle members,


As most of you already know and some will come to find out, I like to have fun with exercise, as a wise coach said, explore the corners. With this being said, I certainly have my own lingo, style and reasons for keeping exercise fresh and fun. Today I give to you my Funky 6 (pick-up sticks) most recent exercises that I have been exploring. These exercises give the user a huge bang for their buck. I say this because these exercises combine mobility, stability, coordination, balance, strength, endurance, brace, proprioception and more into an exercise.



Squat to Stretch with T-Spine Rotation Holding Light Band



How to: This classic with a twist will have you feeling good from your head to your toes. Heating up your calves, hamstrings, glutes, low back, t-spine, midsection and rear delts. You don’t need a micro-mini band but this addition will help strengthen your rear delts. Start in a standing position with your feet hip width apart. With a slight bend in the knee, reach down to your feet (with the band in your hands) from there pull your butt down, pick your chest up and position your elbows inside your knees with your feel flat to the ground (deep squat). Keep one hand down while the other rotates to the sky, switch then drop your head and raise your butt to the sky. You’ll feel a stretch from your calves to your back.



Loop Band March with Single Arm Overhead KB Hold



How to: You’ll need a small hip circle or loop band for your feet to do the marches, along with a kettlebell or weight to hold overhead in a shoulder press position. This exercise will get you sturdy from the floor and up to the sky. With the loop band on the arch of your shoe and around your shoe laces, press the kettlebell over your head and stabilize. Pressing the weight overhead will raise your center of gravity and for you to engage your midsection brace more. While you are marching you are strengthening and stabilizing at the ankles, knees, hips, midsection and shoulders. Talk about a hole in one.



Mini Band Hourglass Walks



How to: We work front & back all the time, let’s give side to side movement some love with this exercise. By working laterally we will be challenging our coordination, proprioception and working lesser used movement patterns. Take a mini band and step your feet shoulder width apart on the bottom of the band. With your hands make the band cross into an X and press overhead. You are working overhead stability, single leg strength and improving commonly weak muscles, those glutes. This one may look easy but it is a doozy.




Glider Knee Over Toe Split Squat with T-Spine Open the Book



How to: You’ll step yourself into a balanced split squat position. You can decide to elevate your front foot with a rubber mat or flat weight plate or keep both feet level on the ground. From here start to glide your knee forward, pushing your knee over your toes while keeping that front heel stapled to the ground. When you reach this position take the same arm of the knee that is forward, reach and hold that foot while the opposite arm (away from the knee) rotates and reaches open to the sky. Bring the top hand back down and now glide back into your starting split squat position. This exercise is great for ankle, knee & hip mobility and stability, while strengthening those areas. The t-spine rotation is an added perk to challenge different ranges of motions that will be beneficial to your daily activities.



Banded Isometric Spanish Squat



How to: Grab a hefty band and anchor it around a rack at knee height. Step both legs inside the band, placing the band behind your knees. Take a few steps back to build tension. From there sink into a half or quarter squat, while you externally rotate against the band. This will light your quads, glutes and abs while preparing you for any lower body activity. These puppies help build happy and healthy joints, muscles and ligaments.



1/2 Kneeling T-Spine Wall Rotation to Dip



How to: Find a flat wall and drop into a 1/2 kneeling position (inside knee up with hip to the wall, while your outside knee is down). Use your hands to earmuff your head and press your inside arm against the wall. The inside arm will drive half a circle up and over on the wall then dip down to the glute. Bring the inside arm back up and over then dip down to the up knee. This is a great movment to wake up that T-spine and prep your spine/back for various positions and ranges of motion. This is most certainly a spicy meatball.



These are my funky 6 exercises that I have been adding into my training and using with some of my athletes. If you see me in the gym and want to see any of these exercises demoed, please come up and let’s get going. Give the funky 6 a try and let me know what you think and how they feel.  Get creative and go have some fun.



Cheers my mobile muscle members,



Get Moving Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Recently I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In trying this new sport, I’ve found new strength within myself that has allowed me to set and work towards new goals which have been enjoyable. Staying in your comfort zone can be tempting, but it can be difficult to grow and improve by doing this . By stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things, this can help you develop new skills, challenge your limits, and build confidence within yourself. Recently I’ve expanded my interest in various types of activities such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, different forms of strength training, and yoga. You don’t have to stick to these three things however if you’d like to experience something new, I’d give them a try.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that focuses on grappling and ground fighting techniques. It’s a great way to build strength, improve flexibility and coordination, and develop self-defense skills. When you practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you’re constantly learning new techniques and strategies, which can help you develop problem-solving skills and mental toughness. It can also be a great way to meet new people and build a sense of community.


Programming different forms of strength training, such as Conjugate Method, Isometrics, or French Contrast, can also help you step out of your comfort zone and push yourself physically. Strength training can help you build muscle mass, improve athletic performance in your desired sport/activity, and increase mental fortitude. It can also help you develop a sense of discipline and focus as you work towards achieving your fitness goals.


For some reason so many people are afraid of yoga. It’s another activity that can help you get out of your comfort zone and develop new skills. Yoga involves a series of poses and breathing exercises that can help you improve flexibility, balance, and strength through reducing stress and improving mental clarity. When you practice yoga, you’re learning to connect your mind, body, and soul, which can help you develop a greater sense of self-awareness and mindfulness.


Trying new activities can be intimidating, but it’s important to remember that growth and learning often come from stepping out of your comfort zone. By challenging your body and mind you will reach new levels you never imagined. Whether you decide to try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, strength training, yoga, or another type of activity entirely, the benefits of challenging yourself and trying new things are numerous. So, why not take the plunge and try something new today? You never know what kind of growth and transformation it might bring.



Birthday Week at the U

Beware the ides of March. We all know that March 15th is a day to be wary of and this makes me convinced that CJ will drop a dumbbell on my face during this day. Until that happens, I want to take a moments and celebrate all the B-Days we have this week at the U.


Gabriella Turano begins our week out with a big B Day shout out from us to her on March 14th. If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Gabriella, please do it soon before she leaves us. Gabriella is a senior at Pitt, she is majoring in exercise science, and plays goalie on Pitt’s lacrosse team.


Haley Morgan is next up to bat as the queen of the ides of March. Haley has the honor of being born on March 15th. Haley is also our queen of yoga. She handles all things yoga for us here at UF. The team of yoga instructors she has is amazing and if you have not spent some time unwinding or getting your butt kicked in yoga then give it a try sometime.


Curtis Miller is batting third this week with a March 16th B-Day. If you are a UF regular, then you should know Curtis. He has been around here for about four years now and always makes an impact. While he is no longer full time, he is still around and helping everyone from top level lifters to beginners.


Dylan Heisey is batting clean up for us on this birthday week with a March 17th B-Day. During his college days, Dylan was coached by my good friend David Kitchen. He came in here looking for a job and I texted David and asked “should I hire him?” I will not tell you exactly what David said….but we ended up hiring him. Most of you may not know Dylan because he works with our college teams exclusively. However, ff you see him around then go ahead and introduce yourself as he is our Olympic lifting friend.


Did you know this fact? You would only need 26 people in a group to have a 50/50 chance of two people sharing a birthday. This may seem at odds with common sense, but birthdays tend to cluster around weather events. Big snow storm? Conveniently enough, 9 months later a bunch of children are born.

Admirable Leadership Qualities

To build on Toria’s blog from yesterday on mentorship, I wanted to touch base on the qualities that I feel make a good leader and ultimately a good person. Although I am a Navy Veteran and have seen and done many things that some people have not, I am still very young and have much to learn. As I sit here and wish I could say that I emulate all these qualities that I will explain in this blog, these are qualities that I need to work on and I am actively working on to become a better person.


1. Empathy- In my opinion, this attribute is the most important one of all. This is the ability of being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to try and understand the way they may feel. This can happen by actively listening to someone’s problems, issues, or ideology whether you may disagree or agree with them. This means not being ignorant to what they are talking about.


2. Reliability- This is the ability of other people being able to rely on you. This means living up to your promises and doing exactly what you said you were going to do. For example, if you tell a friend that you will help them move out of their house then you better be there and not bail on them. This also means showing up to work on time or finishing work that you promised someone by a certain deadline. If no one can rely on you then how can you be a good leader?


3. Walking the Walk/ Getting in the trenches- This is what I call doing the grunt work. If you are in a leadership position then you shouldn’t put yourself above others. This means that you should work hand in hand with the people that you lead with the things that they do. For example, if you are a doctor, maybe it would be a good idea to do the work that your nurses do to get on their level and show them that you care about what they do. Using myself as an example, I cannot be the Lead Personal Trainer here at Union Fitness and not workout myself. I need to stay healthy and workout as hard as I can so that my clients can believe that they can do the same themselves.


4. Being caring- This goes hand in hand with empathy. No one wants to work for someone that does not care about their well-being. I think if people genuinely know that you care about them then that will entice them to work harder and be their best self around you!


With all these qualities being mentioned above, some people may not think that they are in a leadership role but I beg to differ. Each day that you make an interaction with someone is the opportunity to inspire someone else. Whether that is at work, at home, at the gym, or when you are out having fun with friends, someone could be looking up to you. So do your best to be the best person that you can be!



Importance of Mentorship

The world recently lost a very good friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Allan Shook. He put up a hard fight these past few years and he unfortunately lost his tough battle last week. Since he’s been gone, I’ve taken some time to reflect on how important his mentorship was to me, and how important it is to have people like him in all our lives whether it’s inside the gym or outside. Dr. Shook and his influence played a big part of why I am where I’m at today. He helped to guide me through the journey of realizing where I was in life vs. where I wanted to be. Dr. Shook was a big part of my life and one of my greatest mentors, but I am also lucky to have several other mentors and friends right here at UF that I would like to give credit to:


When I first started here as a part time front desk employee back in 2020, I had little to no knowledge on the gym business world and I wasn’t much of an avid lifter. So, I was very fortunate to work somewhere that I would get to lift with a variety of experienced individuals and learn about how to run a gym from selling memberships to coaching classes clients, and teams.


Before I started here, I honestly had no idea who Todd, CJ, or Curtis were. (Well CJ came and spoke to the Exercise Science Club I was in at Slippery Rock University, so I knew of him, but didn’t know the current CJ that we all know and love (most of the time)). I ended up just sending a random email to Curtis one day asking for a job or to shadow him, and he had asked me to come in for an interview. Since then, the three of them have become some of my biggest mentors and good friends along the way.


Curtis – Throughout my time spent with Curtis, he has helped to shape me into a better trainer and a better person. He always answers any client or exercise questions that I may have, as well as giving me a hand with my own training. Curtis took the time out of his own busy client schedule to help me prepare for my very first Powerlifting meet back in September. He would help me to program and execute my workouts effectively so that I could have a successful meet. He’s a positive role model and mentor for me and for a lot of people.


CJ – I’m not sure where to begin with CJ. I always joke about how he’s the older brother that I never wanted (even though I always did want an older brother). CJ is the reason I was able to become comfortable with coaching group classes. I used to take CJ’s Powerful classes, and after a while of shadowing and learning from both him and Curtis, he offered me a coaching spot of my own. Without him throwing me into the fire and then starting to coach on my own, I would have never been comfortable with leading classes. He was able to help me develop those leadership skills and overcome my shyness.


And finally, Todd – I think we officially became friends when he tossed a beer at me at 9am one day, and I chugged it. Back when I first started at UF, he allowed me to coach some of his classes as well as shadow him to gain some other coaching skills. I knew Todd was well respected and well known in the strength and conditioning world, so I knew I could learn a lot from him while at UF. Todd has what seems like an endless network of people within the field and outside of the field as well. I think it’s mostly because he starts up a conversation with anyone within earshot of him whether he knows them personally or not, but also because he’s great at what he does. Since I’ve been at UF, he has challenged me to be better every day, and is always eager to throw out some knowledge.


I never realized how much of an impact these three would make on my life when I first met them. I am very fortunate to have found a place like UF and I think it’s important for us all to find people who we look up to and can help us grow daily. Whether it’s within your career, or within life in general.




Science Behind Variety in Cardiac Training

It is easy to become stagnant in your training. No matter your goals, there are pros and cons to everything you do inside or outside of the gym. I want to do my best today to give you some basic science to different styles and variations in training. Let’s look mainly at heart health, as this topic could go on for hours, and I am not that entertaining of a writer.


Resistance Training for Heart Health. 


Resistance training when it comes to heart health is often misunderstood. Lifting and heavy lifting can do an amazing job in helping reduce cardiovascular disease. Too often, people assume that heart health is only about cardio, and we will get into these benefits later, but it is important to understand how resistance training can also aid in cardiovascular fitness.


The science on this topic is pretty clear. We know that when one does resistance training, the left ventricle will become thicker and stronger. This means that the heart has the ability to pump harder. However, with any benefit, there is also a down side. As the ventricle becomes stronger, it does not necessarily hold more blood. This means that in strong individuals, the heart has the ability to pump more blood by emptying the left ventricle with a more powerful contraction. This results in increased stroke volume. With stroke volume being the amount of blood pumped form the left ventricle per beat.


In addition to the increase in stroke volume, resistance training can increase blood pressure to extreme levels. This may sound like a bad thing, yet in an acute sense this is a great thing. Squatting tends to show the greatest increase in blood pressure, with numbers over 300/200. This is great news for these vessels that are under this extreme acute load because it allows adaptation in many ways. Firstly, it can make the vessels more pliable. And secondly, it can help clean these vessels of the junk that creates issues. Yes, I know that last sentence was very scientific. Just trust me it’s good.


Cardio/Conditioning for Heart Health.


I am sure everyone has heard how this is important. Heart health and cardio are linked together like peanut butter and jelly. Kenneth Cooper wrote the book, “Aerobics” in 1968 and since then, the answer to all things heart related is Cardio workouts. While this book makes some great points, it is still from its time and is a bit solipsistic. What should be taken from the book is that cardio is rarely a bad thing to do. But what type?


HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is great to stress the heart. I believe that everyone should stress their heart intensely once or twice a week. This type of training is similar in its adaptations to resistance training. While HITT is great, it can be overdone and does create a lot more stress for all parts of the body.


LSD or Long Slow Distance training has been referred to as Zone 2 training. In simple terms, this is keeping your heart rate at a controlled pace for longer durations. With this tyoe of training, you can track it based on heart rate (try to stay under 140) or just try to have a conversation during exercise. For example, if you can’t talk then it’s too fast, and you should slow down.


The biggest adaptation from LSD training is an increase in stroke volume due to an increase in volume that the left ventricle can hold. This is where stretching of the left ventricle occurs to make more room for blood. This will add to stroke volume, and if you do this in conjunction with increasing the strength of the left ventricle, then you will be a blood pumping machine.


LSD training can be done with walking, biking, hiking, jogging, or an any machine. Again, the key is to just keep the heart rate elevated for 20-60 minutes and you’ll reap the benefits.


After all of that, I’ll finish with this basic set up to your cardiac output training. Do LSD training 2-3 days a week for 30-60 minutes. Do your strength training 3 days a week for an hour.  Lastly, add some HIIT training in 2 days a week, with focusing on just getting that heart rate over  or at 90-%.





Tentative #Powerful Schedule

Hello everyone, we are sharing our tentative programming for the 1st half of 2023 for the Powerful classes we have at Union Fitness. We are doing this to keep everyone who is in class more informed about the types of workouts they will be doing so that if they have interests in other areas then they can do that as well.


• January 1st till April 16th
Plan- Prepare for UF Push-Pull Meet
Programming- Emphasis on Squat, Bench, and Deadlift with accessories to aid those movements
• April 16th till April 23rd
Plan- Prepare for UF Push-Pull Meet
Programming- Focus on tapering/pulling back on workouts to prepare for meet day
• April 24th-End of June
Plan- Change to Variations of Main Movers (Squat, Bench, Deadlift) and increase volume/capacity
Programming- Changes to different types of bars and focusing on building muscle/increasing work capacity/ heart health/body composition/overall functionality


Monday- Squat with accessories
Tuesday- Bench Press with accessories
Wednesday- Deadlift with accessories
Thursday- Pressing Movement with accessories
Friday- Conditioning with Functional Mobility accessories


Thank you for your continued attendance and support with our Powerful classes at Union Fitness. We love having each and everyone of you in our classes. We enjoy seeing the growth of you all in your general fitness as well as your growth as human beings. Thank you again for choosing Union Fitness as your gym of choice!
If you have any questions or feedback then please do not hesitate to ask or inform us. We want to do our best to create the most inclusive training environment as possible!