All posts by rnagy

Cayt’s New Challenge

I have been at UF for close to three years now, and within that time I have seen so much growth and change, not only in our four walls but in the surrounding area of the North Side.  I started here in January 2019 as a personal trainer and helped out at the front desk while finishing Massage Therapy school.  Union Fitness quickly became my home away from home partially due to the hours I would spend here, but mostly because of the people I get to call my coworkers. It is an environment like no other and I am very thankful to have the opportunity to continue to grow here as I accept a new role.

 

Yesterday was my first day as the Director of Business Operations here at Union Fitness.  There are a few new responsibilities that are spelled out plain and simple like managing the front desk, helping to coordinate event details, and monitoring some numbers. However, the title is rather broad, and Todd is a manager that gives the freedom to build our position into what we feel is needed.

 

I am very proud to work at the best gym in Pittsburgh, and I am very excited to have more of a leadership role to help make our gym even better. There are members that have been here longer than I have and there are many new faces.  My hope as we enter this hopeful phase after a long year is that we continue to grow while becoming even more of a family-like gym.  You can find me at the front desk or coaching cardio classes, personal training, and massaging, which I will still be incorporating throughout my weekly schedule. Please come to me or reach out with anything you would like to see moving forward. 

How I Balance Weight Training and Cycling.

The first sport I excelled at was cross country. I joined the team freshman year of high school, having had no real running background and fell in love with sport, the people, the feeling, and the progress. The desire to continue excelling got the best of my and I managed to turn a stress fracture in my femoral shaft into a full blown broken hip at the age of 17.

 

But as they say, everything happens for a reason and after surgery I started looking for new goals to work at and my friend escorted me to the local YMCA weight room. I’ll forever be in debt to him for introducing me to lifting considering that day influenced my major in school and my career path today. The problem arose when I was cleared to run again and I had to decide which discipline to devote my time too. The first step was deciding which was more important to me- considering I was planning to race my senior year of college, I had to make sure my cardiac fitness was where it needed to be. If we are being honest though, it has taken me years to learn how to appropriately balance cardio with weight training.

 

Progressing at two things at once is do-able for some time, but then starts to make you think “where would I be if I just focused on the one though?”. Multiple hiccups later (aka two more stress fractures) I began to cycle to feed that need for speed, without the impact. Low and behold I had begun a new obsession and was studying Kinesiology in college at the time I was ready to balance the two efficiently and appropriately. The key was figuring out how to use lifting as an adjunct to benefit my cycling, not take away from it. Figuring out the muscles I use on the bike core, glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves, and picking the exercises that strengthen those areas. I personally would never fully neglect the upper half of my body through, so I just did more days with a lower body emphasis than an upper. More recently I’ve been learning olympic lifts to work on my power since my cycling has a noticeable deficit in sprint efforts. I think the other important piece of information is to not be afraid of heavy weights affecting your cardio. For cycling especially, heavy sets of squat for minimal reps build the strength needed to push down on the pedals. Talking to an experienced coach or doing research yourself (the podcast Empirical Cycling Podcast shares a lot of quality information based of research) is your best bet to program efficiently.

 

In my opinion, if you’re using lifting as an adjunct then 2-4 full body workouts a week will show benefits. Doing both your passions can be done and weight training is actually starting to be encouraged as a preventative measure and a performance enhancer! Just a few generals that I go by though- performing the more important discipline first in the day while you have the most energy for it, not squatting heavy the day before a race or a hard workout, and don’t take it too seriously. The last thing I want to plug is that if you like cycling, so do I! Come talk to me about or maybe we can get a ride in! 

 

Leah (the kid).

Wigle Bootcamp

Union, the party don’t start until YOU walk in!

 

Thank you to our friends at Threadbare Cider in Spring Garden for hosting us last weekend. We had a blast working out at your House of Cider and raising a glass or two after a fantastic bootcamp. To all of those who attended, thank you for bringing the thunder and you certainly partied hard, because the sweat showed. We slammed some battle ropes, tossed some medicine balls, crushed some body weight exercises and even took a tour of some local staircases. Your efforts also helped donate some money to Pittsburgh Local Parks Conservancy. Cheers to you and we hope to see all of you again.

 

Are you sad that you missed out, well well now, have no fear, there are 3 more boot camps coming your way.

 

Our next boot camp is at Wigle Whiskey in the Strip on Sunday, July 25th at 10am. This boot camp will include a badass workout sweat session with CeJ & Skylyn, a free Highball Cocktail and a percent of each ticket will go to (Children’s Organ Transplant Association) COTA Daniel Strong. This charity has already raised $19,000 and is looking to reach $50,000. Daniel is in need of a Kidney transplant.

 

To sweeten this deal, CJ will include a free week of unlimited classes to any new or non-member of Union and to our current members, you can pick a time and date to train/workout alongside CJ. How freaking fun!

 

Let’s get together and party some more! To sign up for our next boot camp, go to Wigle Whiskey’s website and grab your tickets on their event page. We can’t wait to raise a glass or two with YOU!

 

Current You Vs Future You

One of my all time favorite podcasts is, Hidden Brain Podcast(HB). HB’s host is Shankar Vedentam. Shankar has a degree in electrical engineering and a masters in journalism from Stanford. He has also written books, plays, as well as numerous articles. You may ask, but what does this have to do with health and fitness? Great question.

 

Big Data.

 

One area Shankar has done a ton of research into (and has discussed on this podcast) is big data. What he found is if one can grab a ton of aggregate data and break it down we can find many issues in society. Everything from what we google to how we spend our time. What I see here is input vs. output. Shankar looks at what we input daily. This could be in our minds or our bodies. This will lead you to become future you.

 

Input, Current You to Future You.

 

Last week on HB Shankar discussed the battle between current you and future you. A great example is a bowl of ice cream. Current you wants it, future you won’t get it but will deal with your decision. Future you won’t taste the ice cream but will store the extra calories and have a little less money because of the decision you made in that moment. Now that’s consider this on a more positive note. We all want to be stronger and fitter. So current you must create a stressor great enough that an adaptation will occur that will only be noticed to future you.

 

What input are you going to use with your body today? What training, diet, and educational input will lead to a better future you? The beauty in all of this is we do not know with 100% accuracy how this will all work out. Current you could do everything correct and future you may suffer due to issues outside of your control. This is why we can only concentrate on the input not the output. We everyday are gambling with our training, education, and life. So take the safe bet for future you, train hard, eat better, and read more. And when the day is over show gratitude to those who supported future you and your process.

 

Injury: The Mental and Physical Approach to Overcoming.

It’s no secret that if you’ve been involved with sports or serious training long enough, then you’ve probably experienced injury. From minor muscle strains, to major reconstructive surgery, and everything in between, injuries can often turn into a setback. Although, they can also become a tremendous learning opportunity when approached correctly. 

 

With each injury I have experienced, I’ve always tried to take the knowledge that I’ve obtained throughout the process and apply it to my clients, athletes, and my future self. You can’t aways prevent other’s or yourself from experiencing injury, but you can always have control on your outlook throughout the process, and how you overcome that obstacle. At the time, it’s not always easy to see it that way, but as time goes on, we often realize that maybe it was all a blessing in disguise.

 

Because this process can be extremely challenging, both mentally and physically, it is imperative that a plan is established before taking the steps to recovery. Whether it be with ourselves, our athletes, or our clients, the approach itself is very similar, and there are certain steps that need to be taken in order to return them to sport or daily activity. As a professional, it is my obligation and duty to make sure that I help each individual return to their activity as soon and as healthy as possible, while also helping them through those mentally challenging times that they will experience along the way. When helping ourselves, this process is no different.

 

To approach this, let’s use a 5 rule system.

 

1: Surround yourself with quality individuals: We spend our lives building connections and developing relationships. Now we must use those resources and connections that we have built over the years in order to help ourselves. Never be too prideful to ask for help. The best things we can do in this situation is take a step back, humble ourselves, and look for help. If you have to travel or search far and wide for that help, do it. It will certainly be worth it.

 

2: Take time off if needed: For most of us, we are instilled with this mindset that we must never stop; that if want want to achieve our goals we must keep going. But sometimes when we are constantly going, and our minds are full of things coming from many directions, we become paralyzed and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s okay to take a few weeks off. Sit down and reflect on your life and your current situation. Give focus and gratitude to those things that maybe you’ve been neglecting. You will be surprised how much it helps you once you begin the road to recovery.

 

3: Establish challenges & set yourself up for wins: Once we know what needs to be done, we now must set daily, weekly, and monthly goals in order to stay on track. Once that is established, an action plan is put into place. We know our goals, now let’s ask ourselves what needs to be accomplished each day in order to get there. This can be extremely overwhelming at times, so it’s important to set yourself up with small challenges inside and outside of the gym that are very achievable. With each challenge completed, that is a small win. Continuous small wins add up into major victories over time.

 

4: Work on your weaknesses: Every injury that I’ve ever had has given me an opportunity to work on something else that I was neglecting. Whether this was physical or psychological, the injury is often a blessing in disguise and an opportunity staring you directly in your face. Most injuries are usually caused by an imbalance or a neglect of another area of our body. While you’re recovering, take the time to to focus on those other things such as stretching and mobility, overall conditioning, nutrition, stress management, etc. If we don’t take the time to find the cause and approach it, then there’s always a chance it may happen again.

 

5: Get it off your mind: Unless we are working on our physical therapy or any of the things listed above, get the injury off of your mind and out of your head. One of the worst things we can do is become consumed with something when we have no reason to be thinking about it. If you are performing rehab work, talking with a professional, or putting a plan of action together, then be 100% in that moment. When you aren’t, let it leave your mind and focus on those things right in front of you.

Member Spotlight, Tyler Kendrick

Here at UF we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CJ climb the incline like King Kong, he will shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!

 

This week we’d like to shout out Tyler Kendrick.

 

Ladies & Gents, here is Tyler in his own words!

 

I’m from the mean streets of Jamestown NY and I was born in the meaner streets of Indiana PA.

 

I’m the office manager of Pittsburgh’s largest coworking space as well as an actor, comedian, writer and Pittsburgh’s first and only Black improvised comedy instructor.

 

I love Union Fitness because of its superb fitness expertise from their staff and their drive to build and cultivate a positive environment.

 

I train mainly to maintain good mental health and physical health.

 

I love long walks on the beach and hate burpees.

 

My training dream team would be Michael B. Jordan, Charlotte Flair, Kumail Nanjiani and Holly Holm.

 

If I could be any piece of equipment at Union Fitness I’d be the sled because we’re both known for making people miserable.

 

A food I could eat everyday of my life is definitely mozzarella stix with marinara sauce and mild Buffalo wings with blue cheese.

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Break Your Rules

Dr John Berardi is someone who has really helped me throughout my career when it comes to diet and nutrition. Years ago he wrote a book (I forget which one), to help people with their diet and training. In the book he recommended using an excel sheet to record your diet. The method he used was simple. Set a few simple rules such as,

 

  1. Have protein in each meal.
  2. Have fruits or veggies in each meal.
  3. Drink water at each meal.

I am not sure these were his rules, yet this is what I took away from the rules. Once this is set make an excel sheet with 7 columns and as many rows as meals you would eat each day.  If you were eating 5 meals per day you would have 35 empty boxes. Now each time you follow your rules put a check, and when you fail put an x in the corresponding box. At the end of the week score your sheet. Now try to do better next week.

 

Improvement is not linear yet your steps for improvement can be. Let’s say you had 20 meals that you followed the rules in week one, and 15 that you didn’t. This is your baseline. Just be one meal better next week. Keep taking steps in that directions. Here is the kicker, for most people scoring 100% on this is not only impossible, it isn’t a happy life. No matter how good you get at this don’t try to get to 100%, break your rules 10% of the time. This 10% is life that happens. Sometimes Marcus opens a new doughnut shop, and next thing you know we are eating doughnuts here at UF. If 2020 taught us anything it is, don’t turn down the opportunity to have a beer with a good friend.

 

Now I ask you, can you go set some rules, believe in those rules, and break them sometimes? Just by the act of being conscience of your decisions I can promise you that you will feel healthier and stronger. Until then I’ll be here eating the peaches that Sarah brought to the gym.

 

What is STRONG?

Here at UF we have some of the strongest people around and at times it can distort our imagine of strength. If you train at UF odds are you are STRONG. Think about this, what percent of humans actually train? And what percent train hard? Then consider that most gyms do not have people squatting 6,7,800 lbs and most gyms don’t have people deadlifting 600 for reps or multiple members bench pressing 500.

 

Now what we have seen what the strongest do let’s ask what is strong? Stuart McRobert once wrote that strong is a 3/4/5 guy (I do not know his numbers for women, sorry). So what is a 3/4/5 guy? A 3/4/5 guy is a 300 lbs bench press, a 400 lbs squat, and a 500 lbs deadlift. I know all the lifters are thinking, that isn’t strong! Yes it is, hear me out. Go to most gyms in America and deadlift 500 lbs, I promise you that heads will turn. Squat 4 plates and same thing will happen. Bench 3 plates and odds are you will be one of the strongest in the gym. As a powerlifter these numbers would be nothing to write home about, but as a human realistically this is a strong human.

 

So when you are training, and you look over and see someone squatting 200 lbs more than you can squat, don’t fret, you are strong. Instead of comparing yourself to a high level powerlifter, compare yourself to where you were before today. Are you stronger than last week, year, or month?

 

Stay the course, own your strength and keep working!

 

Hamer

Coffee and Bootcamp

Unioners, Coffee Drinkers and Friends of Friends, do we have a Sunday Funday for you!

 

Join Miranda, and CeJ this Sunday, July 11th in the Mexican War streets for a FREE bootcamp at Commonplace Coffee. After our Sunday sweat session, Miranda & CeJ will buy your first drink at Commonplace. The bootcamp is FREE but we will be accepting donations made out to The Central Outreach Wellness Center in the Northside. Here is the website link for more information about the Wellness Center LBGT Health Care – Pittsburgh, PA | Central Outreach Wellness Center .

 

 

Where:

Commonplace Coffee 1501 Buena Vista St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

 

When:

Friday July 11th 11AM- 12PM.

 

 

What:

Sunday Funday, hold onto your butts and get caffeinated Bootcamp.

 

 

Why:

To kick off your Sunday Funday, promote health & wellness, drink local coffee from our good friends at Commonplace & support The Central Outreach Wellness Center.

 

Who:

 

Anyone and everyone who would like to join us can attend this Free event. You can sign up at Union’s website under the class tab or just show up and say hello.

 

Also remember to go to www.pghcitypaper.com and nominate UF for the best gym in town. You can vote every day till July 9th.

 

Stay tuned my friends and come down to party with us!

 

Cheers,

 

CeJ

It’s Comedy Week

Once again we are UF are happy to be able to bring some of Pittsburgh’s best comedy to our gym! This time we are doing it to help with a good, no, a GREAT cause. We are asking for donations to Out Athletics. Details of this event are below.

 

Where:

Union Fitness, 100 S Commons

 

When:

Friday July 9th 6 PM-9 PM

 

What:

Bootcamp or Yoga (you pick) followed by a comedy show with 4 of the best local comedians.

 

Why:

This is always the big question and I believe we have the right answer. We are doing this to raise funds and awareness for Out Athletics. Out supports athletes and anyone training from the LGBTQ+ community.

 

Who:

This is for you and we want to make it an events for everyone!

 

This is our second comedy night and our first as a fundraiser for Out. We ask you to come train or take the yoga class. After that donate to Out (online or feel free to donate on the night of the event). Then sit back and watch some great local comedians take the UF stage.