All posts by rnagy

Take a Break Fam

Each day we walk into the gym, our main goal should always be to get better in one aspect or another. We put so much effort into our exercise selection, weight selection, rest periods, and even our preparation outside of the gym. However, one thing that may often be overlooked is our ability to properly recover from our training sessions in order to continue to see progress over the weeks, months, and years. In order to do this, it is very important that we schedule proper deload weeks or deload sessions. 


Deloading is the process of incorporating a lighter training week or training session in order to let the body recover. This is also a great time to address any technical issues or make any form adjustments that may be needed. As we add up the days and weeks of hard training, our bodies accumulate fatigue, which when escalated to a certain point can cause plateaus, injury, or even sickness. Obviously, this is something that we want to avoid, and can be avoided by staying in-tune with our program and our bodies.


When considering the best time to perform a deload, there are a few tell tale signs.


  1. If you’re feeling fatigued and beat up: This is the ultimate sign that you need to deload. If you are more sore than normal, or you are continuously mentally fatigued, take a light week to ease your mind and refresh your body.
  2. If you have hit a plateau: Often times, when we feel like we are unable to continue progressing, it’s due to the fact that your body & mind just need a break. Mentally, it’s hard for us to take a break because we feel as though we will lose progress. In reality, that break is going to propel us one step forward.
  3. If life is crazy and stress is accumulating: Our bodies do not know the difference between physical or mental stress. All stress has the same affect on how our body functions, and if we continue to let it add up, it will lead to the same outcome as the buildup of physical fatigue.


When it comes to performing a deload, there are multiple ways that they can be approached. There is no right or wrong way, it just comes down to what you feel works best for you and your goals.


  1. Reduce the load: This method consists of decreasing the amount of weight that you have been using over the past weeks while roughly keeping the same exercises, sets, and reps. When doing this, using around 60-70% of the load that you previously used.
  2. Reduce the volume: This consists of using the same weights as you have been over the previous weeks, but reducing the number of sets and reps. This may be best suited for someone who is preparing for a competition or event, but can still be beneficial for anyone.
  3. Change your exercise selection: This one can be a little tricky because you don’t want to add in a new exercise that may introduce increased fatigue and soreness. However, if you have been perform heavy, hard movements for weeks on end, getting away from those movements for a week may not be a bad idea. An example of this would be replacing a barbell squat with a goblet squat, or a barbell bench press with a dumbbell bench press.
  4. Take the week completely off: This is something that I don’t recommend that often, but it can be very beneficial depending on how you’re feeling. If you feel as though you are on the verge of a cold, or are very stressed and fatigued, sometimes it’s best to take the week off, go for a couple of short walks, read, or even meditate.


– Curtis Miller

Ghoulz and Gainz

Join Union Fitness for Ghoulz and Gainz, Sunday October 31st at 8:30 am to support the National Autism Association. It is open to all so dig up your zombie friends to come sweat the witches brew and candy off. The morning will start with a group warm up and then a SUPER CLASS. Cardio and lifting for an all-around gain to strengthen your muscles and get your blood pumping. Beware the vampires after, they’ll smell the sweat. A fun time is sure to be had and costumes are recommended for maximum enjoyment. If you don’t wear a costume it is an extra 31 laps around the grass. 


Union Fitness is teaming up with the National Autism Association to raise awareness for the Blue Bucket Halloween Project. This is a relatively new and unofficial signifier to show that a trick or treater has autism. This stubble indicator can help those handing out candy respond in an appropriate manner. People on the autism spectrum may have sensory issues, be non-verbal, and/or be older but functioning at a lower cognitive level. Having this indicator can show each house that the child may not be able to say trick or treat, or wear a costume due to uncomfortable fabric. For kids and young adults, Halloween can be a fun and scary time and making sure the fun is at the forefront for every kids Halloween experience is key. Eliminating some of the anxiety and promoting a feeling of independence will allow those who are not able to participate in the traditional aspects or Halloween enjoy the night as much as everyone else. Keep an eye out for those carrying a blue bucket, make those in your neighborhood or community aware, and if you have a child, or know someone with a child with autism share this tool, so that they can help their child have a fun and safe time. 


Visit the link below to contribute to the National Autism Association mission to advocate for federal policy and resources, research critical challenges that families and individuals face, and educate families, first responders, and service professionals throughout the U.S. Also help Union Fitness reach our goal of $310 to make this Halloween special! Hope to see you all dressed out and ready to work on Halloween at 8:30 AM. 


Please sign up on our website.


Donate here.

Cody and Cayt Ride off into the Sunset

Cody and I have some big life changes that have all happened very suddenly.  We are thrilled for our next adventure yet so sad to say we are leaving Union Fitness.  This gym has been my home for close to 3 years and I have learned so many lessons that I can now carry with me.  Cody comes from a strength and conditioning background.  When he decided to move back home from working at Clemson Hamer gave him the opportunity to work at Union Fitness.  We have made incredible memories here, coached and trained unforgettable members, and met each other here!  This place, which has really been our home, will hold a great big spot in our hearts.  


Cody will be returning to his roots as he accepted a strength and conditioning position at Fort Bragg last weekend.  He starts at the end of October and I will be following him down a little bit later as we move into our new home early November.  


This Saturday Cody and I will be coaching cardio lab together as his very last class and our way to say goodbye to some of our favorite people.  We will be bringing some breakfast and our new puppy Millie so please come for the workout, a donut, or puppy pets.  You can expect a mixture of Cody’s cardio games and my flow movements, lol.  We hope to see you! 😊   

What are YOUR GOALS?

As we head into the last quarter of the year, the staff here at Union Fitness has been discussing how we can make the most of these last few months while providing you, the members, with the best experience and service possible. This past week, I asked my Powerful class to use one word to describe the class. Some of the words that were written down were “Complete”, “Community”, “Empowering”, “Welcoming”, “Quality”, and “Valuable”. These words describe exactly what we strive to provide each and every day. If these words were not thought of by our members, then we simply haven’t done our job.


Going forward, we want to continue to provide these things, while also continuing to grow and evolve. In order to do this, we would like your help. Regardless of if you take classes, personal training, or have a fitness center or strength lab membership, we would like your input and feedback on how we can continue to be the best gym in Pittsburgh. One thing that would assist us in this is by giving us your top 1-2 goals going into the end of the year and leading into the beginning of the next. While most people wait until the new year to establish their goals, we want to set these goals right now in order to finish the year strong and get ahead of the game.


Although most of your goals may consist of things inside of the gym, remember that they don’t necessarily have to. We want to help you to be the best complete individual you can be. This means establishing goals that will also help you in your daily life and routine. Remember, exercise and training should be full circle. When you walk out of the doors here at Union Fitness, you should feel motivated and prepared to apply that same approach to everything in your 24 hour day.


So over the next week, write down your goals, any quality ideas you have, and even one word that comes to mind when you think of Union Fitness and what it has to offer. Then send us a message or stop in to see us so we can continue to grow as a community.


– Curtis Miller

Know Your Protein



We always talk about Getting Bumpy but often don’t mention one of the building blocks of the bumps, protein.


Getting enough protein is important for muscle, metabolic, and tissue health. However, not all protein is created equally. There is complete and incomplete protein. The difference between the two proteins is the amount of essential amino acids they contain. What are amino acids you ask? Well they are molecular building blocks that combine to form the protein you eat. When you eat protein-rich foods, your body breaks those proteins back down into amino acids. We then use those amino acids to build muscle, repair tissues, support metabolism, and support other processes in the body.


Out of the 20 amino acids, 9 are essential, meaning the body can’t produce them. Those 9 are, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. The only way to get these amino acids is through food. Foods that contain all of them, and in amounts similar to those required by the body, are called complete proteins. Those that do not contain enough of one or more essential amino acids are incomplete proteins. All animal-based foods; meat, dairy, and eggs contain complete protein. The majority of plant-based protein sources, such as whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, spinach and others are incomplete. However, some plant-based foods, such as soy, quinoa and buckwheat are complete. Many incomplete protein sources have some of every single essential amino acid, just not in levels high enough that protein can accomplish everything. Leucine, which is a main driver of muscle building, tends to be relatively low in most incomplete proteins. If you’re eating meat, you’re good to go with essential aminos and if you’re eating a wide variety of plant-based protein sources you can get all of the amino acids you need also. Thankfully, whether you try to pair protein at each meal or do so throughout the day, you don’t have to worry about memorizing each amino acid. Just focus on variety of sources. Eat your whole grains, veggies, legumes, seeds, nuts for you veggie heads, toss in some meat for you carnivores and you’ll be good with your portion variety. 


Variety is the spice of life and let’s keep our meals interesting. You’ll be seeing some fun food recipes coming your way very soon from my end of the blogs. 


Eat up my friends, 



Be in Better Shape, Be a Better Person

We began having our powerful classes write goals on the dry erase board. We are doing this so that we can see each others goals.  Just the process of writing a goal down can help keep one honest to their own personal goals. We at UF try to be a team, and hope this practice can help the team moving forward and working together.


In addition to this I have had two of the teams we train run to the Roberto Clemente statue at PNC Park this week. Selfishly, I love spending time going to see statues and memorials for humans who changed the world in a positive way. Growing up in PGH Roberto was a always a hero of mine. Tenzing also loves Roberto, he said his favorite baseball player is Jackie Robinson, and his second is Roberto.


These two separate actions got me thinking more about how to improve (personally and professionally). One of our awesome members said they wanted to improve in their sport, and be a better person, this hit me hard. Be a better person is such a simple thing. Simple acts can change the world, the butterfly affect is real. I took this one goal to heart and it helped me think about how I need to step my game up.


Now I am asking for a favor from all of you. Hold us accountable. We cannot be everything to everyone, yet we can help everyone to the best of our abilities. With that said please feel free to bring your constructive criticism to us. I know we make mistakes, but with trust and respect for one another, I also know we can serve you and our community better.



Burn the Ships

Monday blogs will be back for the next few weeks as we take a short pause on our podcast (we are still mad at Josh for leaving us). For today’s blog, I am going to give you some words to live by. I hope they help you in life and lifting.


Let’s start by burning the ships, as Nate Harvey of elitefts would say. He loves this saying and I would have to guess he uses it daily. If you do not know the story, here is the (even shorter) readers digest version: In 1519, Hernan Cortes landed on the new world. When arriving, he burned all his ships so there would be no retreat from his armada. Two years later he defeated the Aztecs. The morale of this story is, when you have no other direction to go you MUST move forward. This story also played well, as last night I had the honor of speaking at Shippensburg University. I was the inaugural speaker at their leadership academy. I will share a few words that I shared with their students last night, while burning ships with them:


  1. “The tiger of the mind is scarier than the tiger of the jungle”(Tibetian Proverb).            This is an easy reminder that dreading whatever you have to do is usually the worst part of anything that needs done.
  2. Come to the end of each day tired, beaten, and victorious. Unknown. I read this somewhere and could never find who said it. The point is, on our most successful days we should be tired from being active all day. We should come to the end of each day beaten. We cannot and will not win in everything, so lose and get back up. Finally, be victorious in something…ANYTHING!
  3. “America is not perfect, but I will hold her hand until she gets well” (Col. Willam Holloman III). Col Holloman was a Tuskegee Airmen. He returned from fighting for his country and still faced segregation. Yet, he took this as a challenge to help improve our land. I love his approach and will always remember this quote.


These were a few of the thoughts that I shared with the fine students of Shippensburg last night. I hope those exposed to this advice find it impactful and helps to guide you throughout your week.





Falling in Love with Training

This past week I had a good conversation with a very close friend of mine regarding some struggles that he had been facing with his training. More specifically, we discussed how some of life’s challenges have had a direct impact on the overall success of his training sessions, as well as his mindset towards training itself. After a few minutes of discussion and throwing around some ideas to help him going forward, he said “ I think one of my biggest issues is that I need to fall in love with training again”. 


This took me back for a second, as I was recently in the same exact situation as he. Before my injury, I found myself going through the motions, with training feeling more like a job than anything else. I was so caught up in the end result that I lost sight of filling each box of daily gratitude and appreciating the fact that I had the opportunity to do something that I love dearly. After my surgery, I took the time to reflect on everything in my life up to that point. I found myself thinking about my life with training in it, as well as my life before I found my love of training. Before I was able to return to training, I often found myself looking through old pictures, videos, and thinking about how and why I first got into lifting. Throughout that process, I was able to come back into training with a clear mind; focusing on making the most of each day and opportunity to train, instead of just looking towards the end goal.


Now don’t get me wrong, when you have very specific goals that involve being the absolute best version of yourself possible, you are going to have very tough days. Not every time you walk into the gym is going to be pure joy, sunshine, and rainbows. The higher the goal that you set, the more challenge and responsibility comes along with it. Everything from your nutrition, sleep, stress management, and even relationships have to be managed precisely in order to fit your goals. Over time, if we do not approach these things with a complete understanding, focus, and care, it can become very easy to lose sight of what attracted us to this journey in the first place, and why we are doing what we are. When we lose sight of this, we may find ourselves doing it for the wrong reasons.


My advice for anyone reading this, from my own personal experience, is to remember to be grateful for each and every opportunity that is placed in front of you. Be grateful for the struggle and every challenge. Be appreciative of the less-than-stelar days, and even more so of the good days. Sit down from time to time and reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing, and why you began in the first place. Think of how your life would be different without that thing in it. Remember that at the end of the day, you are healthy and strong enough to have the opportunity to do something that many people are unable to do. That is a gift in itself. Finally, please don’t ever let the thought of the end goal distort the joy that comes with the ride.


– Curtis Miller

The Cowboy Rides Off



We learn, we get stronger, we grow, and we move on. That is the SparkNote story of our faithful amigo Josh Elsas.


Josh is one of our good friends and lifters and king of all podcast producers. He graduated from Robert Morris University (RMU) with a degree in television and video production. Josh won two Telly awards from RMU and dominated the Dean’s list for six semesters. After college, Josh worked with WPXI, Mind Over Media, Penn State Hockey, USF Football, Rutgers Football, and USA Hockey and made a few music videos along the way. He is also the creator, producer, and ruthless talent of Thoughts from the Bench, By the Slice, A Great Depression, Two Beers Deep and more timeless podcasts. Josh is an outdoor adventuring, deadhead loving, pizza demolishing, beer cracking, gem of a human.


We all want to wish him the best and offer our congratulations as he moves on to The University of Wyoming to be their Director of Creative Video for Athletics. We thank you for being you, bud.


Three Cheers to Josh and long live the emo king!


P.S. Go watch or listen to his podcasts and follow his adventures as he dominates the video world.


See you later homie,




Note from Hamer: In English, this means Josh we wish you well and we are grateful for all you have done for us here at UF. Godspeed our friend. 

Meditation, Training, & Health

People who train love to talk about the anabolic window. This is the magical window of time that you have to eat a metric ton of protein after you train, or you will lose all that you trained for. As you probably noticed I am joking (a little). The point is that if you name anything people will be able to tag it, and then make it more important than it may actually be. Just to be clear, I do know it is important to feed the body after we stress the body, but too often we worry about the wrong things. Today, I will hopefully let you spend a few moments considering how important mental recovery is to your progress.


Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)


This is basically the functions that occur without us doing much. The ANS is comprised of two yin and yang systems, the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. Easy was to remember these is sympathetic is fight or fight, while the parasympathetic is rest and digest. Think about it this way: you train hard and your body moves into sympathetic (supplements affect is as well), then when you finish your training session you want your body to move back to a more parasympathetic state. By doing this you will increase blood flow to the gut (to help with the magical anabolic window), as well as reducing heart rate, and allowing the body to begin recovering.


Meditation and Breathing for a Greater Parasympathetic Response.


After your next training session sit in a quiet dark room for 5-10 minutes and practice meditation and nasal breathing. If you do not know how to start then here is your quick introduction. Get comfortable, begin breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to breath in as much air as you can filling your entire body with air. Then slowly breath out through your mouth. One easy way to control this is count, 1 is in and 2 is out, then 3 and 4, repeat this until you reach ten then start over. By doing this you will begin to return your body to a more parasympathetic state.


A fun test is to leave your smart watch on and watch your heart rate. You should see a drop in your heart rate as you practice this breathing. As stated earlier 5-10 minutes of this should be plenty to start. Even if you are interrupted just keep breathing. The entire point is to give you control over your mind, and your breathing. After you do this stand up stretch and notice how much lighter and better you feel.


Give me any feedback and I hope this helps.