All posts by rnagy

Pittsburgh City Steps

Hey Team! 


I just wanted to take the time for everyone who enjoys Pittsburgh history, exploring the city, and getting a little workout in along the way about the Pittsburgh city steps. Union’s very own, Laura Zurowski, has been doing Pittsburgh step tours for some time now and knows the history like the back of her hand. Laura took the word from the original city step guide and gave it a new life in the newly published “City Steps of Pittsburgh: A History and Guide.”  


If you’re interested in checking out the book please head to your local book store to get this amazing Pittsburgh find – written by an amazing member of our community.  


Now stop reading this and go yourself a copy of “City Steps of Pittsburgh: A History and Guide.”  



Meet the Staff – Erik

Hi Everyone!


I am Erik Gountanis and I moved to Pittsburgh from Wisconsin at the end of May after finishing my undergraduate degree in Exercise Science! My wife and I moved to Pittsburgh together so that I can attend Pitt for their physical therapy program.  


I am interested in improving my health and wellbeing through training, diet, and other behaviors. After I get my degree in physical therapy I would love to further my education, and participate in research to help develop new technologies within the world of fitness, medicine, and physical therapy. Outside of work I enjoy spending quality time with my wife, listening to podcasts, and relaxing. 


Working at Union Fitness has been and continues to be an awesome experience! I love sharing my passion with people who are looking to improve themselves in various ways through training. While most of my knowledge is centered around general strength and rehabilitation, I hope to continue to expand my scope by surrounding myself with the knowledgeable, experienced coaches and staff at Union Fitness! 


See you around! 


Empty Your Pockets Folks

Empty Your Pockets Folks

I am totally kidding about the title, this blog is just to remind everyone of the boot camp I am hosting with Hannah, Lauren, and Jade next Saturday on July 20th at 10am. I created this boot camp in an effort to raise money for Irina. Irina is a friend of one my personal training clients named Sasha. Every month, Irina flies into Pittsburgh for cancer treatment from Ukraine. Sasha lets her stay at her home for free, picks her up from the Pittsburgh airport, and drives her to all of her appointments. For those that don’t know, this cancer treatment is saving Irinas life. She does not have access to the cancer treatment that she needs in Ukraine because of the war. Irina also does not want to move to the United States because her husband is stuck in Ukraine due to him being under the age of 60 and being required to stay in Ukraine as a military obligation. Along with that, Sashas husband is a physician at AHN, so Irina also benefits from retrieving her treatment at AHN in Pittsburgh. As you can imagine, traveling out of Ukraine during the war with Russia is very difficult. Irina has to take two trains to Poland and then multiple flights from Poland to Pittsburgh every single month. It is a very costly expense and that is why I want to help her.


Sasha has been lifelong friends with Irina because both Sasha and her husband are from Ukraine as well. Irinas husband actually taught Sashas children Karate many years ago. That is where the connection lies and why Sasha and her husband help Irina as much as they can.


I know that we have issues in the United States and our economy is not the best. However, if you could spare any money at all or promote this on your social media I would really appreciate it. Any little thing helps and this money can be a giant help to Irina who is in need.


Again, I will be hosting a bootcamp on July 20th at 10am that will consist of weight training, cardio, and will finish up with some yoga on the front lawn. If you can make it down that would be great and if not, no worries at all. Like I mentioned above, any little thing helps and I appreciate you all! We have flyers posted all around our gym and the North shore with the go fund me link as well as in our instagram bio!


Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope this gives a better understanding of the situation!!



The Benefits of Yoga: Beyond Flexibility and Stress Relief

Since it has been practiced for thousands of years, yoga is becoming more and more popular all over the world. Although many people think of yoga as a means of increasing flexibility and reducing stress, the benefits of the practice go far beyond these well-known benefits. We’ll explore the many advantages of yoga in this blog post, as well as how adding it to your routine can improve your general health.


What is Yoga?

In order to enhance one’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, yoga incorporates breathing techniques, physical postures, meditation, and ethical concepts. Yoga comes in a wide variety of forms, from intense forms like Vinyasa and Ashtanga to more restorative forms like Hatha and Yin.


Physical Benefits of Yoga

1. Increased Flexibility:

One of the most well-known benefits of yoga is improved flexibility. Regular practice helps lengthen and stretch muscles, making it easier to move and reducing the risk of injuries.


2. Improved Strength:

Yoga poses require you to support your body weight in various ways, building strength in muscles that may not be used regularly in other forms of exercise. This includes core strength, which is crucial for overall stability and balance.


3. Enhanced Balance and Coordination:

Many yoga poses challenge your balance and coordination. Improved balance can prevent falls and injuries.


4. Better Posture:

Yoga emphasizes body alignment and awareness, which can lead to improved posture. Good posture reduces strain on the spine and helps prevent back and neck pain.


5. Increased Blood Flow and Circulation:

The various postures and breathing exercises in yoga promote better blood flow and circulation. This can lead to improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of chronic diseases.


6. Boosted Immune System:

Yoga can strengthen the immune system by reducing stress and inflammation, improving circulation, and stimulating the lymphatic system, which helps fight infections.


Mental and Emotional Benefits of Yoga

1. Stress Reduction:

Yoga is renowned for its stress-relieving properties. The combination of physical activity, controlled breathing, and meditation helps calm the mind, reduce cortisol levels, and promote relaxation.


2. Improved Focus and Concentration:

Yoga requires mindfulness and concentration, which can enhance your ability to focus in other areas of your life. This mental clarity can lead to better decision-making and productivity.


3. Enhanced Mood and Emotional Well-Being:

Regular yoga practice can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. The release of endorphins during exercise, coupled with the calming effects of deep breathing and meditation, contributes to an overall sense of well-being.


4. Better Sleep:

Yoga can improve the quality of your sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Certain poses and breathing techniques can help prepare your body and mind for a restful night’s sleep.


5. Increased Self-Awareness:

Yoga encourages introspection and self-awareness, helping you become more in tune with your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. This heightened awareness can lead to personal growth and a deeper understanding of yourself.


Yoga provides a comprehensive approach to health and wellbeing that is good for the body, mind, and soul. You may increase your level of inner calm, lower stress, sharpen your mind, and improve your physical health by adding yoga into your regimen. Accept the trip and see for yourself how yoga may change your life.



Meet the Interns – Nathan

Hi everyone! 


I’m Nate! I am a senior Exercise Science major at Lewis University located in Chicago. I also play volleyball for the University as well. I plan to eventually get my doctorate in chiropractic or Physical Therapy following my undergraduate degree.


I have had a passion for exercise science from a young age when I was just trying to figure out how to jump higher and dunk a basketball. I love interacting with people and helping them believe they can achieve their goals when it comes to fitness and health.


I am excited to learn and be an intern at Union Fitness this summer. I’m looking forward to being part of a community that believes in hard work, science-based exercise, and fun through the process! If you see the tall guy around at the gym, it’s probably me so don’t hesitate to say Hi! 



Meet the Interns – Jason

Hi my name is Jason Kavulic. I am a junior at Chatham University and currently play on the men’s hockey team. I plan to graduate in the Spring of 2025 with a B.S. of Exercise Science. I grew up around the gym as my dad was a body builder and my mother being a gymnast. I enjoy training because of the good habits you can form with discipline, hard work ethic, and patience.  


I am from Pittsburgh, PA and grew up in Baldwin. Growing up playing hockey has taken me on an interesting journey. I have lived in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. In the off season, I enjoy golfing in the summers and just relaxing with friends and family. I have worked at Ice Castle in Castle Shannon for about 4 years where I drive the Zamboni, work in the pro shop, and help out in the gym. 


Hope to see you all around!


Overcoming Setbacks in my Fitness Journey

Today I would like to share my fitness journey in hopes of letting others know that a fitness journey is in fact a journey. Just like many others, I have had my ups and downs with finding a fitness routine that works for me. A lot of our society today is surrounded around social media which can set unrealistic health goals for many. The fitness influencers you may see on Instagram, TikTok, or other platforms likely did not reach their goals without some setbacks and that is totally okay! I believe overcoming setbacks in both fitness and other components of life are what makes each person unique and makes reaching goals even more worth it!


​I have always had a passion for exercise, but it wasn’t until 2019 that I started to take exercise seriously. I bought a gym membership and began weightlifting with friends, but soon became inconsistent because I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. During this time, I had a hard time eating clean and resorted to many unhealthy junk foods. Shortly after, the pandemic shut down all gyms and I had lost all motivation. I would see influencers on social media, and they would inspire me, but I had trouble actually getting up and working out. About a month into peak COVID, I began doing 30-minute bodyweight exercises once a day at home led by YouTube videos. This time however, I maintained a rather healthy diet, but would end up eating unhealthy again after a couple of weeks. Again, I was not seeing progress and slowly became inconsist again.


​Once the pandemic subsided and I was able to move into college, I began going to the gym every day and performing both cardio and weight training. I tried to eat as healthy as I possibly could as a new college student without a source of income. I stayed consistent for about a year and seen a lot of progress. However, as I seen so much progress, it motivated meand I ended up overtraining myself which left me fatigued almost daily and it resulted in a loss of consistency once again. By my junior year of college, I learned a lot more about fitness and nutrition as an exercise science major. Prior to this, I was getting a lot of unreliable information off of social media and websites. With my new knowledge, I decided it was time to really take control and put in the work to reach my fitness goals.


​At this point, I decided that I would write down my exact goals and my plan to get there. I was very busy with classes so I made it a priority that at least 4 days per week I would wake up early before class and go to the gym. I also made sure that no matter how much work I had to do, I would set aside an hour or two on Sundays to meal prep for the week. There were some Sundays that I did not want to prep food and would rather relax, but I made sure to do it because I knew that I would be grateful for it throughout the week.


​As of now, I still have my setbacks and lack of motivation, but I have gotten better at overcoming it. My current routine consists of two lower body RT days and two upper body RT days, as well as meal prepping on Sundays. Not every week looks like this, however. You should always listen to your body if you need a rest day, but one thing I have learned along the way is don’t let one unplanned rest day turn into weeks of inconsistency.  I have come a long way in my fitness journey, but I am nowhere close to where I want to be yet and that’s okay! I share this journey with you to help people realize that reaching your fitness goals will never be a straight and narrow path. Having self-determination and discipline is what will help you overcome your setbacks. The one piece of advice I would give to anyone going through a setback in their fitness journey is to remember why you started and how proud of yourself you will be knowing that you did not give up!


-Alicia M.

Important Announcement Regarding Massage Services

Important Announcement Regarding Massage Services


Hello everyone!


We wanted to take the time to inform our members of a change to massage services that will be effective immediately. The price of a 60-minute massage/service with Sarah will now be $115 and the price of a 90-minute massage/service will be $150. In regard to our wellness plus membership that is currently at $175 a month, the new price will now be $225 a month. With the change being so abrupt, we are keeping our current wellness plus members at their current rate until September 1st of 2024. We felt that this gives our members adequate time to decide if they would like to continue their current membership, downgrade to a different membership, or whatever else may be of interest to them.


The reason behind the price increase is to provide Sarah with a fair pay wage when she provides her service. Sarah has 20+ years of experience in massage and we felt that providing her with a higher hourly rate was necessary given her expertise.


We thank you for your understanding and we appreciate your support in this decision. Thank you for continuing to be great people that you are at Union Fitness and attributing to the positive environment that we have here! If you have any questions or concerns at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Union Fitness staff.


Thank you for your time and we hope you continue to crush your goals!


-UF Staff

Hold On, It’s Isometric Time

Isometrically hold onto your butts, team. Before you read this blog, I’d like you to hunker down into a plank or wall-sit and see if you can hold that position while you get your learn on. 3…2..1..begin! 


Isometric exercises are strength-training movements where the muscle length and joint angle remain constant during contraction. Rather than moving through a range of motion, as in isotonic exercises (like bicep curls or squats), isometric exercises involve static contractions, where the muscle generates force without changing length. Common examples include planks, wall sits, and static holds. 


The importance of employing isometric exercises for activities of daily living lies in their ability to strengthen muscles in specific joint angles and positions that mimic real-life situations. Many daily tasks, such as lifting groceries, pushing doors, or even maintaining posture while sitting, require muscles to contract without significant movement. By training muscles isometrically, individuals can improve their ability to perform these tasks efficiently and with reduced risk of injury. 


In sports training, isometric exercises can be invaluable for enhancing performance in specific movements or positions relevant to the sport. For instance, a basketball player can benefit from isometric exercises that mimic the defensive stance, helping to build strength and stability in that position. Similarly, a golfer might employ isometric exercises to strengthen the muscles involved in the golf swing. 


Research supports the efficacy of isometric exercises for both general fitness and sports performance. A study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2017 found that isometric training improved strength gains comparable to “traditional” isotonic training. Another study in the “European Journal of Applied Physiology” demonstrated that isometric training increased muscle strength and neural activation. 


To add isometric exercises into a training regimen, one can focus on holding specific positions for a set amount of time, typically ranging from 10 to 60 seconds, depending on the individual’s strength and goals. These exercises can be integrated into a workout routine alongside dynamic movements for a well-rounded approach to strength training. 


The adaptation benefits from implementing isometric exercises include: 

  1. Increased Strength: Isometric exercises target specific joint angles, leading to strength gains in those positions, which can translate to improved performance in various activities. 
  1. Improved Stability and Joint Health: By strengthening muscles around joints, isometric exercises can enhance stability and reduce the risk of injuries, particularly in movements that involve sudden changes in direction or impact. 
  1. Neuromuscular Efficiency: Isometric training can improve the coordination between muscles and the nervous system, leading to more efficient movement patterns and better overall performance. 
  1. Time Efficiency: Isometric exercises can be performed almost anywhere without the need for equipment, making them a convenient option for individuals with busy schedules or limited access to a gym. 


The theory of yielding and overcoming isometrics refers to two distinct approaches to performing isometric exercises, each with its own characteristics and benefits: 

  1. Yielding Isometrics: 

Yielding isometrics involve applying force against an immovable object or resistance until muscle fatigue or failure. In this type of isometric exercise, the muscle contracts and exerts force, but there is no movement at the joint. The muscle length remains constant throughout the contraction. 


For example, holding a plank position is a yielding isometric exercise because you are exerting force against gravity to maintain the position, but there is no movement occurring at the joints. 


Benefits of yielding isometrics include: 

  • Improved muscular endurance: Holding a position for an extended period challenges the muscles to maintain force output over time. 
  • Increased time under tension: This can lead to muscle hypertrophy (growth) and strength gains. 
  • Enhanced joint stability: Holding static positions can help improve stability around joints, reducing the risk of injury. 


  1. Overcoming Isometrics: 

Overcoming isometrics involve exerting maximal force against an immovable object or resistance for a brief duration. In this type of isometric exercise, the muscle attempts to move an object that cannot be moved, resulting in maximal contraction without joint movement. 


For example, pushing against a wall with maximal effort without it moving is an overcoming isometric exercise. 


Benefits of overcoming isometrics include: 

  • Maximal strength development: By exerting maximum force against resistance, the muscle recruits a high number of motor units, leading to strength gains. 
  • Improved neuromuscular coordination: Overcoming isometrics require the activation of motor units in a coordinated manner, leading to improved muscle recruitment patterns. 
  • Enhanced power output: Developing maximal strength can contribute to improved power production, which is beneficial for explosive movements in sports and daily activities. 


Both yielding and overcoming isometrics have their place in a comprehensive training program. Yielding isometrics are often used for muscular endurance and stability, while overcoming isometrics are more focused on maximal strength and power development. Integrating both types of isometric exercises into a training routine can lead to well-rounded improvements in strength, endurance, and functional performance. 


Yielding Isometrics: 

  1. Plank Hold: 
  • Example: Hold a plank position for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Benefits:  
  • Muscular Endurance: Holding the plank challenges the core muscles to maintain contraction over time, improving endurance. 
  • Joint Stability: Engages stabilizing muscles around the spine, hips, and shoulders, enhancing joint stability and reducing the risk of injury. 
  • Postural Strength: Reinforces proper alignment and posture, which is beneficial for daily activities and preventing back pain. 


  1. Wall Sit: 
  • Example: Hold a seated position against a wall for 30-60 seconds. 
  • Benefits:  
  • Lower Body Endurance: Strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, improving lower body endurance and stamina. 
  • Functional Strength: Mimics the static position required for activities like squatting, sitting, or standing for extended periods. 
  • Joint Stability: Enhances stability around the knee and hip joints, promoting injury prevention and improved movement mechanics. 


Overcoming Isometrics: 

  1. Pushing Against an Immovable Object: 
  • Example: Push against a solid wall with maximal effort for 5-10 seconds. 
  • Benefits:  
  • Maximal Strength Development: Engages high-threshold motor units to generate maximum force, leading to strength gains. 
  • Neural Adaptations: Stimulates neural pathways responsible for muscle recruitment and coordination, improving overall strength and power output. 
  • Plateau Breaking: Overcoming sticking points in traditional lifts by strengthening specific joint angles and positions. 
  1. Isometric Deadlift Hold: 
  • Example: Set up in the starting position of a deadlift with a loaded barbell, but do not lift it off the ground; instead, push against the bar with maximal effort for 5-10 seconds. 
  • Benefits:  
  • Strength Development: Targets the posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, improving overall strength and power in the deadlift movement pattern. 
  • Grip Strength: Builds grip strength and endurance necessary for holding heavy loads during deadlifts and other pulling exercises. 
  • Injury Prevention: Reinforces proper lifting mechanics and posture, reducing the risk of lower back injuries during deadlifts and other lifting activities. 


By incorporating both yielding and overcoming isometric exercises into a training routine, individuals can target different aspects of muscular adaptation, including endurance, strength, stability, and power. These exercises offer functional benefits that translate to improved performance in sports, daily activities, and overall health and fitness. 


By utilizing isometric exercises into a training regimen, individuals can reap these benefits and improve their performance in both daily activities and sports-specific movements. 


And, boom, that is a quick overview run down of isometric training. I hope you took something away from this and if you are in our #powerful classes, well…hold onto your butts.  




Meet the Interns – Jade

Hi! My name is Jade Minniefield. I am from the Pittsburgh area and have graduated from The University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Exercise Science. I am currently finishing up my master’s in clinical Exercise Physiology at Pitt as well! I plan on pursuing a career in the fitness industry, but I am not sure about the specifics at this moment.


I am a multi-business owner and live a very busy life. I have a passion for travel and fitness, as I go on trips regularly and follow the same exercise regimen I preach to my clients. I have extensive experience as a strength coach and personal trainer and love human interaction and socialization. Training clients is one way to combine my favorite things to do. I have been super active throughout my lifetime, as I played softball, ran track, and an abundance of other sports. No matter how busy I am I will always make time for fitness! If you see me around, say hello! I would love to meet new people as I help and learn exercise and training here at Union!