All posts by rnagy

2024 UF Push/Pull Recap

Hello Friends of Union Fitness!


This past weekend we hosted our fourth annual Push/Pull fundraiser competition. It was a huge success, and we were able to see some awesome lifts from all our participants. There were some lifters who had participated in powerlifting meets or the push/pull in the past, and there were some who had never stepped up on a platform before. It is always so great to see everyone try their hardest to crush some PR’s and celebrate even the small wins. We also raised a little over $500 to donate to HEARTH. An organization that provides a range of supportive services and housing that empowers homeless families, who are survivors of domestic violence or other trauma to become independent, self-sufficient, and adequately housed; to foster housing opportunities to prevent homelessness and encourage safe, affordable housing.


I would like to take a moment to say thank you to every individual who helped us out that morning, and put their best effort forward.


CJ – thank you for killing it on the mic and for keeping the morning flowing.


Jen – thank you for being an amazing judge and helping select bench rack heights for all of the lifters.


Jared – thank you for also being an amazing judge and helping with weigh ins for the gentlemen.


Ward & Dahveed – thank you both for the stellar spotting job throughout the morning. You guys were sweating the most out of everyone from working so hard.


Ava – thank you for being an amazing photographer, we appreciate all of the hard work you put in.


Sandhya – thank you for keeping me in line and ensuring all the flights and lifts were recorded correctly. Also, for being a great videographer.


For those of you who competed, we are all very proud of how far you’ve come in your training and are excited to continue to watch your progress. Congratulations on competing in either your first push/pull or your second/third/fourth. Looking forward to next year!



Comfort: Our Own Worst Enemy

From an early age most of us have been taught or programmed to think that comfort equals happiness and that we should take the path of least resistance. While comfort can help with unwinding after a long day and may give temporary relief, it can do more harm than good if comfort is the only thing you seek. Comfort is like a drug, and once you have it, it is extremely difficult to change that habit. What can tend to happen is that we bleed our dopamine system dry of happiness through constant scrolling, drugs, alcohol, binge watching tv or gambling because it gives us that temporary comfort or happiness. We stop doing the things that we used to do and instead focus on getting our dopamine fix to feel somewhat happy for a very brief period of time. This then creates a habit that prevents us from growing professionally, spiritually, or socially. This lack of growth, whether we realize it intrinsically or not, creates the real root of our unhappiness. We realize we are not pursuing the best version of ourselves and this makes us restart the never ending cycle of getting our dopamine fix to only wake up the next day with bitterness. We repeat this constant cycle over and over again to the point where we can become bitter, depressed, or discontent with life. However, in saying all of this above, the good thing is that this can all be prevented! From my own opinion, the pursuit of something bigger that makes us uncomfortable is actually what makes us happy. Basically, forcing ourselves to be uncomfortable and doing extremely difficult tasks makes us feel better about ourselves because we are growing in some type of manner. This gives us a sense of purpose, confidence, some control of our lives and ultimately allows us to create our own happiness. So after reading all of this, I challenge you all to be more disciplined, to set goals, to be your true self, and strive for growth rather than comfort. It is 100% okay to unwind here and there with whatever makes you feel comfortable but just don’t make it a habit that consumes your life. The people that choose an easy life tend to have a hard or unhappy life but the people who choose a hard life tend to have an easier or happy life. The same way that dogs need physical activity to be happy, humans also need mental stimulation and problem solving to be happy. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and always strive for growth UF fam!


Gainz out!!

What I have Learned at Union Fitness

Hi Union Fitness Team! As many of you know, I have spent the past couple months interning here at Union Fitness to broaden my knowledge of and grow my skills in the fitness field. With my internship sadly nearing its final weeks, I would like to highlight some of the important lessons I have learned throughout this experience, as well as sincerely thank everyone for the pivotal role you all have played in my growth as a fitness professional.  


One of the most prominent things I have learned during my time at Union Fitness is how many different ways we can move our bodies to achieve our fitness goals. Through joining different classes, I have learned so many new and creative exercises that target all the same muscles without having to stick to the same repetitive routine or conventional movements. This keeps exercising interesting, as performing the same movements each week can become a very monotonous and mundane experience which can make it difficult to find excitement and motivation when entering the gym. Switching up your routine every now and then by trying new exercises or focusing on different modes such as cardio, plyometrics, weightlifting, yoga, etc. can keep exercising an exciting experience! 


A key aspect of reaching your fitness goals is the type of environment you are surrounded by. As I have seen here at UF, a supportive environment can help you PR, reach your fitness goals, and boost your mood more than you think. Many times I have witnessed members and staff supporting each other throughout their workouts, ultimately pushing each other to achieve what they set out to pursue. I have both seen and experienced the difference that a supportive environment can make when it comes to lifting heavy weight or completing another set when it feels super difficult. The supportive environment fostered by UF has helped me learn just how important it is to cheer each other on and how far that support can go. 


This experience has taught me how important it is to take care of your body when it comes to exercising. While this sounds like a given, oftentimes we forget to properly warm up our bodies and stretch out after completing a challenging workout. Warming up your body correctly through performing mobility exercises and dynamic stretches prior to beginning a workout can make or break your performance. Taking the time to stretch out your muscles post-exercise is also imperative to keeping your body moving at its best. Coupling these practices together, while also listening to your body and giving it what it needs in terms of fuel and rest, is essential in preventing injury and keeping your body healthy. Rest is just as important as exercise! 


Lastly, one of the biggest lessons I have learned during my time at UF is not to be afraid of asking questions, asking for help, and trying new things. This is how you learn and build your confidence! Through asking questions and jumping into new experiences, I have learned so much about not only the fitness field, but myself as well. The welcoming community at UF has helped me feel comfortable and confident in my journey through learning and growing as a fitness professional, and I am grateful for everyone who has played a part in my experience! 


Over the course of my time at Union Fitness, I have learned and grown so much in so many aspects. I am excited to continue throughout my last few weeks here and look forward to what else there is to learn! 


Amanda Giunta 


Celebrating Women in Sports

Hi Union Fitness Community, Coach AD here!


I wanted to take time today to write this blog and talk about a few cool things going on within Women’s Sports and here at Union Fitness!


So everyone knows that it was March and in the college Basketball world it means it is time for madness… Both Men and Women’s Basketball teams qualified for the March Madness Tournament. This year is special though, especially for the Women’s Basketball World and World of Sports.


As many have came to realize many Women’s Sports are getting much more recognition and FaceTime across the board but most definitely for the Women who play division 1 basketball. Icons such as Kaitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Paige Buckers, Juju Watkins and many more have started to pave an iconic path for this sport. As these women are known from their High School tapes/social media and for the elite skill level on the court, they have helped do something this year that has never been done before for their sport. The Women’s officially had been given the logo of “March Madness” on the center court! Before this year only the men’s tournament was officially called March Madness, but that has changed with the hype that has surrounded these women and the sport of Women’s College Basketball!


To see great things happening in the World of Women’s Sports proves and shows that Women’s Sports has been nothing but on the uprise of respect and recognition around the world.


With that being said, I would like to also celebrate and welcome our Point Park Women’s Basketball Team back to Union Fitness for Off-Season Strength and Conditioning! We are excited to have these Women back and to help them achieve all their goals with the help of their hard working mindsets!


Oh and how can I forget…… Let’s Also Congratulate Zain and Jamie on their new Puppy Comet, seen here with the Point Park Women’s BasketBall Team



The Power of Music

As you prepare to go to the gym there are a couple of essentials that you always bring with you. Phone, wallet, keys, water bottle, airpods (or headphones), and other lifting equipment. While you are beginning your lift, you put on your headphones and choose the music you want to listen to as you begin your lift. It seems so routine and a natural part of getting ready to lift that it is often overlooked. Think about the days that you forget to bring your headphones. The lift doesn’t feel as exciting and it is hard to really lock in and focus. You may also feel like your lifts are not as strong as they usually are.


Whenever I get to the gym before I do anything else, I put on my headphones and choose a song depending on the mood I am in and what I will be hitting. If I am in a sad mood, I will often turn to my sad playlist. If I am ready to attack my workout and have an intense workout, I will usually turn to rap first to warm up and then to hardstyle/remixes. Whether I am in a sad mood or in an intense mood, the music amplifies those feelings immensely. I have seen research done saying that music actually does increase your power output by a certain percentage. Now, I don’t really know the validity to that particular study, however, when working out it almost certainly feels that way.


Music has a way of tapping into your mood and being able to explain it through a song that words can’t really explain. It allows you to really feel the emotion that you are feeling to the max which in turn allows you to have a better workout. I feel like many gym members can attest to this because a nice jazz song is not going to really tap into your emotions and allow you to feel that while lifting (for most people). There are definitely song genres out there that do not allow those emotions to be tapped into.


Let’s try to think about it another way. Imagine you are going for a PR on a squat, bench, or deadlift. You are in a gym with a couple people around doing their own workout/exercise. You have no one around to hype you up or any music playing. This makes the PR much harder for some reason that cannot be explained. Now, imagine going for a PR on a squat, bench, or deadlift. You are surrounded by many people yelling, encouraging, and hyping you up. You have that PR song in your headphones or playing from the speakers. While going for the PR, the extra sound and motivation from others allow you to push a tad bit more to hit the PR. It is unexplainable, but there is that motivational factor that music and surrounding yourself with others that pushes you that extra mile to hit the PR.


Music is such an important contributor to the lifting community. Having something to listen to while you lift really allows you to push that much further for another rep or another set.


Ricky Cho

Reminder to Celebrate the Small W’s

As we set grand and lofty goals, we often lose sight of our reasons for pursuing them.


Many of us are inherently ambitious, setting our sights on challenging goals that give us purpose. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fitness community. Individuals strive to achieve milestones like adding 200 pounds to their squat, shedding 50 pounds to slim down, or breaking the barrier of a sub 5-minute-mile. While these objectives provide motivation even on the days we lack enthusiasm for working out, they can also lead to tunnel vision, where nothing matters but reaching these benchmarks. Activities that once brought joy and excitement can start to feel burdensome, akin to a job. This tunnel vision can be detrimental, causing individuals to overlook the progress they’ve already made and ultimately diminish their enjoyment of fitness pursuits.


It is essential to reflect on where you began and acknowledge how far you have come. Gratitude for your health and celebrating small victories are crucial. Above all, cherish and relish your fitness pursuits while you still have the ability to engage in them.



3 Spice Level 11 Full-body Exercises You Need To Add

Variety is the spice of life and you know in CeJ’s kitchen we kick the heat up to 11.

There are many great classic exercises that are a staple in my training routine but sometimes you have to get creative and lean on unique exercises to drive Adaptations and keep training exciting. Recently I have been messing around with some unique exercises that I have been having a lot of fun with. Hold onto your butts and check out these three spice level 11 exercises.
1) Cable Lateral Lunge to Rotation. This exercise will heat you up. Start by grabbing the single handle attachment for the cable. Once you grab the handle attachment you’ll start the exercise by taking a lateral lunge step away from the cable stack. From that start you’ll use your hips and Abs/trunk to rotate away from the cable stack. Violently pressing your arms away from the cable stack you’ll almost think of this motion as a swing of the bat in sports or that you’re a badass samurai. Whichever one fits your vibe for the day. I enjoy this exercise because it’s a full body motion that requires power and strength from my lower body all the way through my upper body. Also this is a great exercise to challenge your abs during both the concentric and eccentric portions of the movement.
2) High Handle Prowler Push Press. Talk about a full body highly functional exercise that will put fear in the hearts of gym bros and have real ones now their heads in respect. This one is pretty simple, load a prowler with a lighter load to start. You’ll grab the high handles of the prowler with your hands while you wedge your body in about a 45 degree angle and dig your feet into the floor. From that position vision that it’s 4th and inches on the goal line and your team needs to score or that you are a power frog. Boom! Powerfully drive your legs through the floor as you transition power into your hips and send the prowler gliding across the turf with a powerful press from your upper body. Take this down the turf as quickly as you can.
3) The Turkish Get-Up. This exercise could be the ruler of all functional exercises. Navigating your body from a laying position on the floor to a tall standing position with a weight above your noodle, I mean what more could you ask for. To see an unbelievably excellent example of how to do this exercise, I recommend looking up my last blog and video on Get-Ups.
If you’re already doing these frighteningly spicy exercises then I commend you. If you aren’t yet getting down with these 3 beauties then I’d gladly show you how to do them and add them into your exercise program.
Stay spicy my friends

The Best Thing About Working at Union Fitness

What’s going on everyone!


As of late, I have been thinking about how Union Fitness has impacted my life and why I was attracted to this gym that is now my work place. At first, I thought that the hard working environment was what brought me in since I love to push my own boundaries much like all of our members, the powerlifters that train here, or our athletes. But after some consideration, I realized that the hardworking environment was just a part of the reason of why I wanted to work here. 


The largest influence on me pursuing my own professional growth at Union Fitness is the relationships I have made with so many people here. In my own opinion, the best thing about Union is the aura or vibe that creates positive relationships among our employees, our members, and our athletes. I have met so many awesome people in the 2.5 years I have been here. Some of which, I will remain friends with for the rest of my life. I can’t quite pinpoint the exact reason on how or why Union Fitness cultivated such awesome relationships but what I do know, is that I am thankful for each and every person that has made an impact here.


Whether you are a member, an employee, or an athlete, I thank you for making Union Fitness such a positive place to work at. Keep on hustling on your own personal goals and keep being you! We appreciate you all!!!




2024 Push/Pull

Hello Union Fitness!


Happy Thursday!


We are super excited to host another in house push/pull competition this year. I’ll give you a quick overview of what a push/pull is in case you’re unfamiliar:


What is a push/pull?


A push/pull is a modified version of a powerlifting meet. It is a bench press and deadlift competition. The meet will be run in flights, a flight is a group of lifters, normally 10-15 lifters. Lifters are arranged by first attempted weight. Bench will always be first, and each lifter will lift their opening attempt. After this attempt the lifter will tell the scorers table what their next attempt will be. Each lifter will get three attempts. Once all bench press flights are done we will move on to the deadlift. The deadlift is run the same way as the bench. At the end, the winners are announced based on a Wilkes or Dots score. This takes into account bodyweight and total weight lifted.


Who can do the UF push pull?


Anyone! This meet is open to all gym members and friends of members here at UF. We have had people use this meet as an opportunity to train for a bigger meet, get themselves an introduction into powerlifting, or just to set some goals and go for them.


When is the push/pull?


This year the meet will be held on April 6th. Lifting will start at 10 AM. Weigh ins will be 8:45-9:30AM.


What is the cost?


We will be charging $25 for this meet. We will donate the money in full to a local charity (working on which charity now and are open to suggestions).


What are we doing to help our members prepare for the push/pull?


In our #powerful classes, you all have been doing heavy singles in the deadlift and bench press this past week. You will continue to work on your heavy singles throughout next week (3/18-3/22) as well. During the week of the 25th – 29th, it will be more of a “transition week” preparing you for the commands used with both the deadlift and bench press during the push/pull. The week of the push/pull (4/1-4/5), will be a deload week, meaning you will be running through all of the movements, but at a very light weight.



If you have done our push/pull in the past we hope to see you back again this year.


Sign ups are now live on MindBody!


Looking forward to seeing you all there,


Team UF

5/3/1 Program 101

Hello everyone Hanson here,


Today’s blog is about one of the classic powerlifting programs developed by Jim Wendler. The core principle of the 5/3/1 program is starting light, progress slowly but steadily, and break personal records (that’s not your 1RM).


Starting Light:
While this might be counterintuitive for someone who wants to lift as much weight as possible, starting lighter provides more room for improvement and more practice volume without the crushing feeling of fatigue. It might be a tough pill to swallow for some, it is far better than pain from injuries and stalled progression.


Progress Slowly:
This goes hand in hand with starting light, it will help those who want to get bigger and stronger from self-sabotaging their own progress. Instead of aiming at an arbitrary number based on what people advertise on social media, every set’s weight is calculated based on your PERSONAL training max.


Break Personal Records:
5/3/1 is set up so you can break your personal records on your 5 rep and 3 rep sets on a weekly basis. To live or die by your 1RM pr every week is one quick way to discourage yourself from making progress. Instead, focus on hitting pr’s with reps with the same weight, if your squat goes from 225 x 3 to 225 x 5, you have definitely gotten stronger.


How to set up 5/3/1


You are expected to weight train 4 days a week for this program. Each day is centered around a core lift: bench, shoulder press, squat, and deadlift. Start your workout with 5 to 10 minutes of mobility and warmup, focusing on slowly moving through the warmup movement with full range of motion. After warmup, you will proceed to the main training block. Each training cycle lasts 4 weeks, with the following set-rep goals for each major lift.


Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Set 1 65% x 5 70% x 3 75% x 5 40% x 5
Set 2 75% x 5 80% x 3 85% x 3 50% x 5
Set 3 85% x 5+ 90% x 3+ 95% x 1+ 60% x 5


For the weight calculations, we are basing it off your training max, which is 90% of your competition/max effort 1RM. For example, if your absolute 1RM for bench press is 315lbs your training max will be 315 x 0.9 = 285 lbs. So, for week one, your first set of bench press will be at 285 x 0.65 = 185 lbs. for 5 reps, and then 285 x 0.75 = 215 lbs. for 5 reps, and the last set 285 x 0.85 = 245 lbs. for 5 or more reps with all-out effort. The magic happens on that last set where you really push yourself to set that multi-rep PR! But don’t ignore the nice foundation you’re building with the first two set and assistance work you’ll do after.


Assistance Work:

Along with the bench press, squat, shoulder press, and deadlift, 5/3/1 includes assistance exercises to build muscle, prevent injury, and create a balanced physique. My favorites are strength-training staples like chin-ups, dips, lunges, rows, and back extensions. I like to do 4 to 5 sets of 15 reps for those assistance exercises. The goal is NOT to go as heavy as you can for those assistance exercises. The goal is to keep the tension in the muscle while maintaining good form as you go through sets of 15. For exercises such as chin-ups and dips, I just use my body weight, and for exercises like the lunge and rows, I have 30lb dumbbells in each hand.


5 Tips to a successful 5/3/1 program from Jim Wendler himself:
1. Start with a realistic idea of your one-rep max, and follow my instructions to base all training weights on 90% of that max. You can make it easy on yourself by spending a couple of workouts working up to a four-rep-max set of each of the four core lifts.

2. Your 3RM should be about 90% of your 1RM. Once you have that 3RM, you can skip a step in your calculations and just use it for all your subsequent percentages.

3. The final set of your core lift in each workout is the one that produces mass and strength, so give it everything you have, and get as many reps as you can with that weight.

4. The exceptions are the deloading workouts in Week 4. You’re giving your muscles a break, not trying to establish new PRs.

5. When you start a new four-week cycle, add 5 pounds to your 1RMs for bench and shoulder presses and 10 pounds for squats and deadlifts, and recalculate training weights using the new numbers.


I will be adding more content relating to 5/3/1 in the future as I am currently 1 cycle into this training myself! Feel free to ask me any questions about this training if you see me around the gym!


Keep on lifting!