Category Archives: Life Health

Meet Recap and Reflecting Back

I recently competed in my 15th full powerlifting meet. My goal for this meet was to step on the platform healthy and achieve a 2000lb total. This is a goal that I have been working towards for a very long time, and with the help of a great support system, I was able to do just that. It didn’t go exactly as planned (although it never really does), but I was able to stay focused and under control, and managed to walk away with a 804lb squat, a 430lb bench press, and a 766lb deadlift. As I sit and reflect, I can’t help but think about the journey and how I got to this point.


April of 2013 was my first powerlifting meet. I totaled 1310lbs at 190lbs bodyweight. To some, that isn’t a lot. To others it is. To me, it was neither. It was simply a starting point for my journey going forward. Even though the sport of powerlifting is judged off of how much weight you can lift, for me, it has never been just about that. Each time I walked into the gym, my only goal was to be better. Yes, sometimes this meant lifting more weight. Sometimes it meant learning something new about my technique. Other times it meant failing. But even when we fail, we have the ability to grow and become better if we have the right perspective. In my eyes, even a setback or a failure was a victory, because I learned something. I knew that if I kept this mindset and continued to accumulate the small wins, then I was progressing towards my goals and continuing to grow as an individual. Small wins over the period of weeks, months, and years add up into very big victories. 


This doesn’t just hold true for me, but for anyone. With the same mindset, any goal is attainable. The important thing to remember is that progress is never linear, whether it’s lifting weights or in life. There will always be setbacks, let downs, failures and achievements, road blocks and detours, but the most important thing is that you never give up. Could we do things more efficiently and be smarter with some of our decisions? Of course. But every single decision we make and experience we have leads us to this point where we are at this very moment. That’s living, and that’s how we grow. 


It’s hard to put into words exactly what this meet and this achievement means to me. All I can say is that every time I grab a barbell or walk into a gym, I am extremely grateful to be healthy and to have the opportunity to do something that I love. Having my wife there to experience it with me along with some of my closest friends was legitimately a dream come true and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Powerlifting has given me more than I could ever give back. It has taught me lessons, helped me grow and mature, and has introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever known. For that, I am forever grateful. 

3 Pup’s Hidden Holiday Movie Gems

Happy Holidays to my Merry friends at Union,


With the winter weather blowing and covid keeping us a little more hibernated this holiday season, the pups and I have debated and compiled an entertaining drop down of movies that are sure to put you in the spirit…of something.


We all know the holiday movie bangers, Jim Carrey’s Grinch, Will Ferrell’s Elf, Christmas Vacation and of course The Nightmare Before Christmas but let’s bust out some deep cuts.


Top 5 Hidden Holiday Gems; Movie Edition 


1) Jingle All The Way(1996): Arnold Schwarzenegger is a workaholic dad who has continuously let his son down and promises this Christmas, that he will get him the Turbo-Man action figure, the most coveted toy of the holiday. Arnie has to battle Santa, evil villains and even Sinbad for the toy.


2) Scrooged (1988): Bill Murry takes on a Charles Dickens rendition of A Christmas Carol. A cynical TV executive lives out a wild variation of the 1843 classic and is visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve to help him find his Christmas spirit.


3) Die Hard (1988): Bruce Willis battles terrorists at a Christmas Eve work party and saves the Holidays. “Ho Ho Ho, he has a machine gun).


4) The Night Before (2015): Seth Rogan and his 3 lifelong amigos spend the night in pursuit of the ultimate holy grail of holiday parties. They immediately remember that they aren’t as young as they used to be.


5) Gremlins (1984): An 80s gift gone wrong. Feed them after midnight of a mischievous holiday tale.


Honorable Mentions:


Batman Returns (1992): Micheal Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer & Christopher Walken star in this gothic action-packed holiday thriller.


The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992): Jim Henson, Michael Caine, Kermet and the gang take on Charles Dickens.


Extra Slice of Pie:


Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987): John Candy & Steve Martian star in this hilarious Thanksgiving holiday classic as they battle holiday travel to get home to their loved ones.


Shout out and comment some of your favorite holiday movies, deep cut or not so others can enjoy some of your go-tos.


Cheers my frosty friends!



Monthly Challenge

For the month of December we are offering all of our members a chance to challenge yourself, as well as us here at UF. There will be 4 different options and scoring sheets are hanging outside of our cardio lab. With these challenges you can complete them in the gym or tag us on instagram and we will put your score up for you. The winner of each challenge will receive a free massage. For those of you who are not ready to come back to the gym we can save your massage for a later date. Here are the challenges.


Challenge 1, Erg 2k Challenge.


For this challenge the goal is to do as many 2K’s on the Erg (rower) as you can during the month. The rules are simple. Row 2000 meters and that is 1 point. Row 4000 that is 2 points  etc. If you row 3000 today and 3000 tomorrow that is still only 2, 2 k’s. So please be honest as we are on the honor system.


Challenge 2, Bike 3 mile Challenge. 


For this challenge you just have to ride 3 miles on an airdyne bike. Similar to the first challenge you will just be asked to do the ride, then record it. Also, similar to the first challenge this must be done in 3 mile increments.


Challenge 3, Ski Erg 2k Challenge.


Read challenge one and do the same thing on a ski erg.


Challenge 4 Pull Up Challenge.


This is the simplest challenge. The goal is to hit as many pull ups as you can in the month of Dec. These can be done anytime and anywhere. Just record how many you have done.


As I stated earlier the scoring sheets are posted in front of the cardio lab. Some of our staff will participate in these challenges as well. If you do any of these challenges at home just tag Union Fitness and we will add your score in for you. If you do anything here just record it on our score sheets.


Now let’s get back to training!







Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season to all of you. This year I find it important to review what we are thankful for even more than ever. So here is my Top Ten list of things I am thankful for.


  1. Health and Family. Without my wife and child I couldn’t be who I am or do what I do. Everyday I remind myself that we have a wonderful family with good health.
  2. UF and each of you (members and employees). Without each of you, UF would and could not have success. Our employees have been rock stars during this strange year. Our members have been great as well. I thank you all for being vigilant and respecting each other in our facility.
  3. All the companies that supply UF with the best equipment for lifting. If you are not aware we use equipment from Eliftefts, Rogue, as well as Sorinex. Each of these companies have been great to deal with, and I am very thankful for these relationships.
  4. Books. I am an avid reader, and we have now started a mini library at UF. Come by and leave a book or take a book. All we ask is that you read more!
  5. Coffee and all of our awesome local coffee shops. CommonPlace, Adesso Cafe, and all the other coffee shops that keep blocking our adenosine receptor sites!
  6. Pittsburgh. Throughout my life I have been lucky enough to live in 7 different cities (and yes I’m being a yinzer here), but none are as welcoming and friendly as the people in this city. Our walking meetings through the Northside always remind me of why I love living here.
  7. Bike paths and our local parks. Having the ability to jump onto one of many bike paths in and around the city is amazing. Also, visiting the local parks is always a highlight of my week. Special shout out to Frick Park, Montour Woods, Sewickley Heights Park and North Park.
  8. Adversity. 2020 has been filled with adversity, but adversity is a time for growth. We all train by breaking down our muscles so they can grow back stronger. Let’s do the same for our minds and hearts. Overcome adversity, and let’s all come out of 2020 stronger, smarter, wiser, and more empathic.
  9. UF Classes. Classes are back, and I am thankful for the community that they create here at UF. We do all we can to ensure a clean and safe training environment for each class attendee and will continue to offer outdoor space for our members.
  10. Time. My father once said time is both infinite and finite at the same time. There is always more time, so in that sense it is infinite. However, all we have at any one time is the present, so it is finite in that sense. Don’t waste time. Invest and spend time wisely. Train, read, and rest. Investing your time wisely into these three things will always be wise.


Let’s take on December with eyes wide open and ready to deal with the challenges before us.


Union Fitness Labs Presents, The Virtual Bumpy Turkey Bowl & Burn

Gobble Gobble to all of our Thanksgiving Bumpy Battalions!


With everything going on we had to call a hot route into a Red 7 audible…if you don’t follow that one, then you should take a quick peek at Wedding Crashers backyard football scene to hype yourself up and “would you just go stand on the other side please?”


Sometime during your Thanksgiving feast, Macy’s Day Parade balloon critique, Foosball cheering, Planes Trains & Automobiles marathon & mid-day nap, come jump on our Instagram and sweat the gravy train out with our Virtual Bumpy Turkey Bowl & Burn workout. We will have it posted in the morning so you have all day to get the deal done.


If you haven’t checked it out yet, please click on our Thanksgiving donation blog. The proceeds will go to a local business and our first responders.


We are thankful for all of you and the amazing things you do!


Come catch me on the flippity flop and let’s get bumpy on Thanksgiving.





Nutrition Tips For Thanksgiving

The holidays give a lot of people anxiety when it comes to eating, being fearful of overindulging, not being able to control their intake, or for some, not sure how to approach any holiday while still enjoying the foods they love. My simplest piece of advice that I can offer always reigns true for anything in love, eat mindfully but allow your space to indulge without guilt, how do we do this? Well if you keep following along you’ll find out.


Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays, mainly because I get two in one year. As a Canadian we celebrate Thanksgiving in October however also being American, we celebrate this holiday but in November. From the pie to the stuffing to the gravy, this holiday is all about the food and I’m here for it (sometimes I end up in a food coma, actually let’s be honest, I always end up in a food coma around Thanksgiving).


As always, my tips are just suggestions and in no way do you need to follow them head-on. I’m simply sharing what I share with clients who struggle with this holiday and want to also stay on track with their goals while enjoying all the amazing food that sits in front of them.


Fasting for Thanksgiving is a big no-no, you do not need to fast for this festivity unless you are someone who already follows an intermittent fasting schedule. Instead, let us look at the day this way:


  1. Enjoy a high protein, low carb, and fat breakfast
  2. If your Thanksgiving dinner sits in the early afternoon, instead of having lunch, make yourself a high protein, low carb/low fat snack.


          • If anything, people struggle with getting enough protein in on this day so having 1-2 meals or one meal and one snack that is high in protein will set you up for success.


      3. For your Thanksgiving meal, the following is a suggestion:


          • 1/4 protein, 1/2 carb, 1/2 vegetable, 1/4 fat (can be included in protein/carb). Within this structure, you’re still hitting all your core groups and you can visually see on your plate where each macronutrient sits.
          • For dessert, if there are many different kinds sometimes I’ll opt for smaller portions to allow more space for a variation or if I’m more prone to want just apple pie, 1-2 slices is the perfect amount for me (I’ll never skip dessert, it’s the best part).


Remember, these are just suggestions to get the most out of your holiday without feeling like you overindulged. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t struggle with these feelings then please disregard my suggestions or follow them if you want to also stay mindful of your goals. Everyone is different and we all have different relationships with food, that is why what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for the next person.


If anyone needs any extra advice or wants to reach out to speak on the holiday, feel free to DM me on my personal Instagram. I’m always available for a little chat, especially since I’ll be spending the Holiday virtually with my family.


Have a great Thanksgiving Union Fam, much love,



Updated Thanksgiving Workout

We are doing our best to keep everyone safe during this time and we appreciate each of you for understanding our decisions. We have decided to open on Thanksgiving day for 2 hours so people can still train and keep some normalcy to their lives.


We will be open from 8AM -10AM on Thanksgiving day. During this time we will have workouts posted in the cardio lab, strength lab and the performance lab. We will also have a coach in each area. We invite you to come by and do one of these workouts or come by and do your own workout.


We will be raising money for a very special cause. This year we are partnering with a local deli that will make food for first responders. We will be accepting cash donations on Thanksgiving day. We hope you will take part with us while supporting a local small business,  and help those who are working extra hard to keep each of us safe. More details will be available on Thanksgiving morning.


Thanks and we hope to see you Thanksgiving morning for a different kind of turkey burn.


Todd Hamer


Turkey Day Class

Hi all! The best time of the year is upon us, and although events and gatherings are looking a little different, we are doing our best to bring some normalcy and holiday cheer.


Union Fitness is presenting its 2nd Annual Thanksgiving morning super class workout, and we are inviting you to start your day with us! The class will start at 9 am and go until 10:30 am, with one hour of work split between both lifting and cardio. To make this event possible and safe, we will be following all state regulations and setting up the event in the way that works best. We ask that those who choose to participate agree to follow what we have planned. Here are a few precautions we will have in place:


  • As a gym, we have been requiring temperature checks upon arrival and a mask to be worn for the duration of your visit. We will be doing the same for this class whether or not you are inside or outside.
  • We will have hand sanitizer and wipes provided in each area and have a 10-minute transition time to wipe down all items used.
  • We will be capping the class at 32 people, with no more than 8 people stationed together in each workout area throughout the gym and performance lab.


We will be offering this as a free class! All we ask is that you bring a food item or clothing/blanket/gloves as a donation. If you have any questions, please reach out. We look forward to having a fun workout together to start off the day of yummy eating or whatever you may have planned for Thanksgiving 2020 🙂

Question: Do you incorporate a lot of protein bars and shakes into your diet?

The simple answer, yes. The long answer, you’ll find below.


Let’s define the term “a lot” because if you’re eating 3 protein bars a day and drinking 1-3 protein shakes, most if not all of your protein intake is coming from supplementation which ideally is not the route we want to take in regards to our nutrition. What we want to do is focus on whole and nutrient-dense foods then use supplementation to make up for the spaces in which we desire a protein bar or need that post-workout shake.


Breaking it down further, focusing on eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a good start and then from there add in your snacks and your post-workout shakes. If you follow a structure as similar to this you’re more than likely eating at around your body weight in protein without realizing it and without actually tracking your food (which is a tool that works for some but not all individuals).

When we under-eat in regards to our protein intake we lose lean muscle mass, can experience chronic fatigue, and experience other health-related issues. This is why getting in an adequate amount of protein is important to our overall health and wellness.


Everyone’s goals are different which is why my diet wouldn’t work for someone else, therefor my easiest piece of advice would be to eat your body weight in protein or around there (being mindful of not under-eating) and not overdoing it on the bars/protein shakes. Choose whole and nutrient-dense options first then fill in the spaces with mindful choices.


This is a perfect moment to plug my favorite protein bar and small-business, whom I wrote about back in quarantine, Nash Nutrition. These bars are made with clean and nutrient-dense ingredients, soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free, as well as naturally sweetened with honey and dates. If you’re looking for a solid, trustworthy protein bar, Nash Nutrition is my recommendation.


Purchasing from them is also a purchase towards supporting a small business, something we are proud to do here at Union Fitness. As the holiday seasons are approaching I encourage you to shop locally and shop small.


If you have any nutrition questions please message us on Instagram, Facebook, or Jocelyn specifically on her Instagram to get your questions answered in a blog post.

Weekly Wrap Up

Happy Friday everyone, we hope you all had a great week, got in some good sweats here with all of our awesome instructors and enjoyed some of the beautiful weather we randomly had (even if it was mostly rain but still warm none the less).


For this weeks recap we have some changes happening within Union that we want to keep you in the loop on:




Tuesday 6:00AM, Steph Stahovic

Tuesday 5:30PM, Cody Miller (starting Tuesday, November 24th)

Wednesday 6:00AM, Jocelyn Lemay

Friday 6:00AM, Matt Grayson




MOVEment will be moving to 5:00PM on Friday evenings only, continued to be taught by Jocelyn Lemay.




If you haven’t noticed yet we have two new instructors joining us, both Meagan Gnibus and Lauren Sweetnich will be covering classes on an as needed basis. We are very excited to welcome them to Union and be part of our staff!


Also, we have started to utilize inside of Nova Place for our yoga classes. MindBody will reflect the location of each yoga class, be sure to check your MindBody Application for any room changes or ask our front desk staff to show you where yoga is being held if you have never taken a class on our Nova Yoga Deck.


Have a wonderful weekend and we hope to see you this weekend in our Cardio Lab and Yoga classes.


UF Team