Category Archives: Life Health

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

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

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.

The Adventures of Dave

Here at UF we have a diverse, sometimes strong, and interesting staff. I am very proud that we have been able to pull so many interesting people together to make us what we are today. In this blog I want to give you a better understanding of Dave Jackson. Also, you will have the opportunity to take on a new challenge with Dave.


Dave started working here back in 2020. Taking on a new job with face to face clients during a pandemic has to be a challenge, and Dave has risen to the occasion. You can see him teaching most morning powerful classes, training clients, as well as working with some of our teams. What some of you may not know is that Dave has spent time with some big time college football programs. Yes I am biased, yet I have seen that once one has spent time training in the college environment they are generally prepared for most challenges in training.


This summer Dave decided to do the Racheal Carson trail challenge. I have done this event over ten times and it is not for the faint of heart. He not only did it, he did it in a top 40 time (most people that finish that fast do nothing other than hike and jog). He then decided to do the Kabuki Open here at UF. He hit his goals there. Now he’s training to run the EQT PGH Ten Miler. This is a ten mile race in the city. So we now are going to help him training, and hopefully have some fun doing it.


Starting this Friday Dave is hosting our newest class. It is a running class. 7 AM every Friday lace up your shoes and join Dave as he leads the group on a run. As with all of our classes just sign up through our website.


Until next time let’s all tell Dave good job on reaching his goals  and please someone outrun  him this Friday so we can all go back to talking trash.


Intern Spotlight, Olivia

Hi everyone, my name is Liv, I am an intern with Union Fitness this semester! Currently, I am in my senior year of undergrad at Chatham University in the Shadyside / Squirrel area, majoring in exercise science with a minor in psychology. Next year I will go to graduate school to pursue a degree in occupational therapy. This career has always interested me because of the overlap between the physical and the mental, and how we can use that to help people obtain or regain their freedom. As of right now, I am particularly interested in the pediatric side of occupational therapy. I have had quite a bit of experience with kids in leading youth groups, being a long-term sitter for 2 foster children, and working in my mom’s special education classroom with the occupational therapist.

I am originally from a small town in Ohio called Sugarcreek, it is actually the “Little Switzerland of Ohio.” We have the world’s largest cuckoo clock and have an annual swiss cheese festival. I went to a small high school and was very close with my science teacher. She is the person I thank for helping me find my love for science and anatomy. Mrs. Z always encouraged me to push myself and picked me up when I was down. I am so grateful for all she did for me and that it has gotten me to the place I am today.

Some fun facts about me are I have five dogs and one cat. My cat is named Jessie Saint James (Saint for short) and lives with me at school. He is named after one of my favorite TV show characters. My favorite food is bread and I very much prefer Coke over Pepsi. I have a slight addiction to watching TV series and have a running list of each show with a detailed review of each, so far there are a total of 104 recorded shows.

Besides working at Union, I am an RA and also work at the bed and breakfast on campus. I have a light load of classes this semester, so I decided a few weeks ago to get an ASL certification online. I have always been interested in sign language because my mom took me to a few classes when I was younger when she had to learn it for her classroom. ASL is something that will be very useful in my future career working with children with disabilities and it is a skill that I think everyone should have at least a slight understanding of. Working to make the world a more inclusive place should be something we all continually strive for.

So far, my time at Union Fitness has been great. I have already learned so much in the little time I have been here. Something that has really stuck with me is the idea that if people don’t think you care, they don’t care how much you know. This means that in order to really get the best out of people you are working with you need to connect with them on a personal level, and not just treat them like someone you see for an hour at a time just to make a little money. When people know that you care about them as a person, they are much more likely to listen to the things you have to say and try their hardest. This is something that I think Union Fitness does really well and I hope to do that same both here and in everything I do in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know a bit about me. Hope to see you around the gym sometime!

Exercise When Life Knocks You Down

This Saturday we are hosting the Kabuki Open and Union Fitness has a strong group of both men and women participating.  Cody and I also planned to compete in this meet together.  This would be my first powerlifting meet in two years and the first time competing in a lighter weight class.  Meet prep was going very well and I was very excited to see how my total compared to previous competitions.  


Once in the hospital, though, the thought of competing became so irrelevant.  Truthfully the thought of doing any kind of exercise scared me.  Now that I am home and recovering a little bit more each day Cody and I have started discussing a plan, but it still scares me.  The core controls everything, and right now, I have little to no strength in that area. I am also not allowed to lift more than 10lbs which knocks me down to one of our littlest fatbells.  


During this time, I am trying to remind myself that I am going back to the basics.  The VERY basics.  I don’t have a timeline and will more than likely progress as I feel it is time, but I do have a general plan.  Deep breathing causes me to cramp and hurts right now so first and foremost I will be starting with belly breathing.  This is going back to the very beginning and something I have not done in quite a while.  Isometrics like planks and band work will follow.  Walking is still very encouraged so I will continue to make that my main source of daily movement.  I may even start to play around with yoga (Cassie 😊).  This will be a time to regain strength and stability in my core but also a time to explore some avenues of fitness that I never have before.  The fear is turning to excitement and I look forward to what I may learn throughout the process.  


You may not find yourself knocked down to the very basics, but situations like this happen to all of us.  Whether a different life event takes over for you, vacation or holidays become the focus, or you simply fall out of routine, there will always be a bump within your training.  It may feel disheartening if you are doing what you love or confusing if you don’t know any other forms of exercise, but either way it will be a lesson that makes you better than before.  There are so many ways to move so I encourage you to play around with different methods when you find yourself in this type of situation.  First and foremost I believe exercise should be enjoyable because all of it will benefit in some way, so next time you find yourself here, make it fun and enjoy the process.     

Hospital Stay

Hi everyone – I miss you all!! It has been two weeks since I have been at Union and I wanted to share an update from Cody and myself.  Lots of things in our lives were going very well and our wedding date (September 4th) was quickly approaching.  We were simply bound for a bump in the road.  The reasoning we may never know, but we are nothing short of thankful to be home together again.  


Two weeks ago I was driving home from work and had a stomach pain that felt like hunger pain.  I had a snack and prepped dinner for when Cody would come home a few hours later.  I didn’t make it long before I was feeling nauseous and curled up under all our blankets.  By the time Cody got home I was on the bathroom floor and got sick about every hour that night.  Morning came around and I wanted a shower, chicken broth, and a movie day to rest up before normalcy the following day.  By that evening though, my stomach had an awful pain.  We went to the ER where they did minimal tests but said a stomach virus is going around, gave me drugs, and sent me home.  


Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the pain worsened, and nothing made it feel any better.  I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t lay down, and I couldn’t stand up straight.  I slept upright with a fan a foot away from me, a cold rag on my forehead, and a heating pad on my stomach. The sharp pain would come in waves and I would wake up in excruciating pain squeezing Cody’s hand as hard as I could.  My mind kept going back and forth between thinking they missed something and thinking I was the biggest baby with a stomach virus.  


Saturday night the pain was the worst it had been and Sunday we decided to go to Urgent Care.  They recommended Pepcid and to call my PCP the following day.  Later that day I was so crippled, and Cody thankfully decided we needed to go back to the ER.  I would have never admitted it, but I knew that was what we needed to do.  


This time around we had two amazing doctors that palpated and did the tests we needed.  They came back with urgency in their eyes and said we need to perform an emergency appendectomy.  My appendix had been ruptured probably since the time we came in on Wednesday and my entire abdomen was full of the toxins.  This would be my first surgery and I was so nervous.  It was also 6 days prior to our wedding.  Cody held my hand and calmed me down by doing simple breath work.


Surgery was performed that evening and the doctor came out to tell Cody that my case was the worst he had ever seen and a lot would need to be done throughout the week.  I came out with a catheter, a nasogastric tube, and a stomach tube continuing to drain out the toxins.  I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything from Sunday to Friday but I could suck on ice chips and hard candies.  Walking was encouraged and I insisted on making my slow laps every two hours holding onto my multitude of tubes.  


It felt like no progress was being made for the first four days.  In fact, Wednesday was a bit of a negative spiral and the day we officially postponed the wedding.  However, things were looking brighter on Friday.  They removed the NG tube and allowed me clear liquids which never excited me more!  I graduated to soft foods on Saturday and a normal diet on Sunday.  


Sunday evening the doctor removed the stomach tube and said I would be discharged Monday morning.  It felt like this day would never come!  Cody picked me up at 10am on the beautiful Labor Day morning for my first time in fresh air.  We drove home and I took my first shower in 10 days.  By 1pm, Cody and I were married!!! Our families put together a small ceremony for us at the pond and then we celebrated with soup and bread.  It was everything we could have imagined.  I was alive and home and with the people that mean the very most to me.  


Cody sat with me every single day in the hospital.  He helped me walk around, he played cards with me, and he sat there while I napped.  He laughed with me when I needed adult diapers.  He bathed me with a washcloth and shaved my legs while I laid in bed.  He calmed me when the pain was really bad or the news really scary.  I have 22 staples down my abdomen now which I couldn’t look at for days, but he made me feel more loved and beautiful than ever before.  I am sorry this life event has taken Cody away from the gym as well, but he has been everything I needed.  We love each other more than we could have imagined.  I hope no one has to go through what we did, but I hope everyone finds a love that is even stronger on the harder days.  


The recovery is going to be long, but we look forward to returning to Union this Monday.  In the meantime, we are resting and just so happy and appreciative to be home together.  We will see you soon!