Category Archives: Life Health

Let’s Ride and Make the World a Better Place

The week for our bike ride is upon us!

 

As you have probably seen we are hosting a bike ride fundraiser. We are excited as this is something new to Union Fitness. The ride is called “Bike Ride for Black Lives.” All funds raised will be donated to the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

 

FAQ

 

What are the ride options?

 

We are hosting a 10, 30 and 50 mile ride.

 

What are the routes?

 

We will have maps available the day of the ride.

 

The ten mile ride will leave Nova Place, ride to the Northside trail and follow the trail beside the Allegheny River and back to Nova Place.

 

The thirty mile ride will cross into town, then catch the Great Allegheny Passage and ride up past the waterfront and back (it will end at about Kennywood).

 

The fifty miler will follow a similar route to the thirty except follow the GAP past Mckeesport.

 

How do I register?

 

Click here and scroll down to Saturday. The ride is listed as one of our “classes.” This “class” is free to anyone (member or non-member of UF).

 

How do I donate?

 

All donations are taking place through our go fund me page, click here for that site. 

 

What time does the ride start?

10 mile family fun ride. This ride will leave UF at 10:30 AM with registration at 10 AM.

30 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 9:30 with registration at 9 AM.

50 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 8:30 with registration at 8 AM.

 

Will there be rest stops?

 

For the 30 and 50 mile rides we will have a support crew at the waterfront. They will have water, gatorade and snacks.

 

Let’s Roll.

Team UF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humble Beginnings

When I was young, my dad had a small weight bench and a pair of dumbbells in our spare bedroom upstairs. He first showed me how to use them when I was around 10 years old or so, but after the first time that I took too much weight off of one side of the bar and it came up and hit me square in the mouth, I was over it. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I actually found my way into the weight room.

 

Growing up, I was always extremely active and involved in sports. From growing up on my Grandfather’s farm, to helping my dad work on our 1970 Mustang, to racing dirt bikes and four wheelers, I was always doing something physical. From the age of 4, I played soccer and baseball up until the day that I graduated high school. I lived for all of it. These things were my way of hiding how shy and afraid I was on the inside. When I was standing on that pitcher’s mound or racing around a track, I felt unstoppable. Almost like a superhero. But when all of that went away and I had to go back into the real world, I was just a boy who was scared of what life was going to throw at him.

 

Eventually, I decided to put sports to the side and pursue a career for my love of cars. For a couple of years I worked in custom car shops as a metal fabricator and paint specialist. Although I absolutely loved it, there was now a hole in my life that I couldn’t fill. Without the strength and confidence that I gained from sports, I was still that scared kid from my childhood. One day, my best friend Trey asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with him after work. I hesitated as I flashed back to the time when the barbell hit me in the mouth at my parents house, but I still said yes. Scared and nervous, I walked into our old high school’s weight room as I was greeted by the football coaches. One of them, my History teacher Mr. Joseph, looked at me shocked and said “Miller! What are you doing here? Are you lost or something?”

 

Indeed I was lost. I was 145 pounds soaking wet, and had no idea what I was doing, but each day, I kept coming back. One month into working out 3 days per week, I received news that Trey was in a car accident, and was fighting for his life. I visited him in the hospital, and told myself that I would continue to train for him. As he progressed and got better, I began to realize what the gym had provided me during that time. It gave me the courage to keep pushing when I was sad and scared, and it gave me the strength to not give in even when I wanted to quit. 12 years later, and not a day goes by that I don’t try to repay and pass on everything that the gym has done for me. It has given me the strength to go back to school, to become an established professional, become an Elite powerlifter, build strong relationships, and face my fears every day in order to become a better human being. As long as I live, I will do my best to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to experience the same things that I have.

 

To Mr. Joseph, I am in fact still lost, but I’m finding my way a little more each day. Thank you for the encouragement.

The Power of Powerlifting

This past weekend, Union Fitness hosted the 3rd annual Iron City Open powerlifting meet. With the help of our staff, Doug Nostrant and his team of referees, along with our member volunteer spotters and loaders, we were able to have an extremely safe and successful event. I will be completely honest, this is an event that I was very unsure about happening a couple of months ago, and even up until a few before the competition. As far as I am aware, this was the first event that was held in the western PA area since before the start of the pandemic in March. 

 

What made this event special was not only the competitors that attended and the weight which they were able to lift, but all of the people who came together to make sure that everyone was safe and meeting all of the guidelines and standards necessary in order to be able to hold the event. From the outdoor tent, to the USPA referees making sure that the equipment was properly cleaned after every single lifter completed an attempt. That’s right, the bars and benches were disinfected and cleaned after each competitor touched it. You can’t ask for much more care and safety than that. All while wearing masks and face shields for 7 hours in 90 degree weather. This truly goes to show how strong the Powerlifting community is, and how much love and respect goes into it.

 

I am entering my 8th year as a competitor. During that time, I have personally competed in 15 competitions, and I have either attended and/or helped individuals in another 15 or so events. The more meets that I attend, and the more mature that I become, the more I understand and appreciate everything that the sport of powerlifting has to offer, and all of the people whom I’ve had the opportunity of meeting in the process. On the surface, powerlifting may look like a bunch of meat heads with low IQs walking around sweating, grunting, and yelling absurd statements just so they can pick something up one time and then put it down. However, if you dig deeper and spend some quality time in the community, you will meet some of the most genuine people who you’ve ever encountered, and you will witness first hand how powerlifting can help you become better in every aspect of life.

 

In powerlifting, you have to develop a plan of action and then take one step each day in order to reach that goal. It’s inevitable that you will encounter crossroads, hardships, and even frustration along the way. Over time, when approached correctly, this will equate to many small victories and lessons learned. Lessons which can not only help you become a better athlete, but can carry over into being better in your career, in your relationships, and within your own self. The best part of this is having the ability to pass on these lessons to other individuals so they can benefit from the same things which you have. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Living, learning, and passing on.

NUTRITION DEBUNKING (PART ONE)

What’s up guys, Jocelyn here. I’m super excited, overly passionate and invested about anything and everything nutrition related. After finishing my Nutrition Coaching cert through Precision Nutrition I’ve had so many opportunities to personally help and/or guide people through their own nutrition journeys. I’ve found consistently, even from just coaching in general that there are A LOT of nutrition myths out there, thus another nutritious blog post from yours truly (see what I did there?).

 

Misinformation exists, especially in the fitness world and it’s a huge problem for professionals in this industry trying to properly educate individuals. The market for dieting is growing every year, from weight-loss supplements, juice cleanses and meal plan templates, we are seeing the biggest marketing scheme for “quick-fixes” take over the health and wellness industry.

 

In this blog post I’m going to focus specifically on the diet culture within the fitness industry and providing educational and informational responses on why these chosen paths for weight-loss are ultimately damaging not only for your body but mental health as well.

 

Let me first clear things up, there are no quick fixes especially when it comes to weight-loss.

 

Getting right into it, I want to start off with this idea that we need to eat 1200 calories a day in order to see weight-loss happen. Here’s what will happen if you only consume 1200 calories, you will lose weight (awesome right? Not exactly), you will also lose some fat but also muscle. The biggest problem with restrictive eating is that your metabolism will eventually get used to eating at such a low caloric intake that you will have to continue to eat less and less calories to see progress in your weight-loss. The issue with this is that it creates an unhealthy relationship with food, it creates stress and stress comes with a whole list of things it does to your body. Having such a mentality leads to disordered eating, labeling food as “good or bad” and then eventually binging because you’ve deprived your body of what it needs for so long, this is not only harmful for your body but also your mind.

 

No person on this earth except for a child under eight that doesn’t exercise should be eating less than 1200 calories (according to the 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines). As we get older the baseline amount of calories we need to function properly go up and they will also vary dependent on how active of a lifestyle we live and if/how hard we workout. This is why a one-size meal plan templates does not work and why juice cleanses are a superficial. The main reason why a one-size meal plan doesn’t work (side note: it may work for some people when its a customized plan for their specific needs) however, we are all different and that means the amount of calories we need is different from say myself and what my fellow co-worker Curtis needs to fuel his Powerlifting training. Therefore, buying a one-size fits all meal plan template from an Instagram influencer might not be the best move for long-term sustainable success.

 

Let’s move onto juice cleanses, a market that has generated $215 million dollars in 2012 (according to market research firm NPD group via Harvard Health). The biggest issue I have personally with juice cleanses is that they claim to “detoxify” your body when in actuality your body comes equipped with a natural detox system AKA your kidneys and liver. If you have healthy kidneys and liver they will filter blood, expel toxins and cleanse your body 24/7. Juice cleanses will profit off of detox marketing and misguide people thinking this is what they need to do to rid their body of waste so that they feel healthier. These cleanses are generally low in calories and in-turn result in weight loss, however the real question here is what do the participants do once they have finished their cleanse? Just because you rid your body of all the “toxins” within it doesn’t mean you can go back to how you were eating before and evermore your internal desire to binge will be high due to restricting yourself for days. We also need to pay attention to how much protein the body is getting, even if you are vegan/vegetarian these diets still get a healthy amount of protein to maintain muscle mass. Juice cleanses have little to no protein in them, overall the juice cleanse is just a “quick-fix” to a long-term problem.

 

Good nutrition comes from education on whole and nutrient dense foods, a stress-free and relationship centered focus in regards to food. Restricting calories, following diets that are a one-size fits all approach or thinking quick-fixes are going to get the job done is not going to promote health for the long-term. Nutrition Coaches like my myself focus solely on making sure the client in eating enough food to sustain a healthy weight while also reaching their goals, the biggest myth of all is that you need to starve yourself to lose weight when in reality you probably need to eat more than you already are now to achieve your weight-loss goals.

 

Next time you’re scrolling through social media pay closer attention to what type of information you’re taking in and if you have specific nutrition questions, stop me in the gym next time you see me and/or stay tuned for part two!

 

Much love,

 

J

 

References:

Publishing, Harvard Health. “Juicing — Fad or Fab” Harvard Health, health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/juicing-fad-or-fab.

“Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015” 2020 8th Edition 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/.

Questions of Command

The best Commanding Officer I ever had no idea how to do his job. Or at least that’s what he told us. 

 

Over a few week period the entire Air Wing had seen a spat of deaths, some suicides, some motor vehicle accidents, training accidents; one of the suicides had come from one of our line squadrons. Nothing was his fault, he was a great commander, smart, attentive, organized, compassionate. But sometimes that’s not enough. 

 

He gathered the entire group command in the staff conference room, hundreds of years of military experience, leadership, and know-how gathered around a grand oak table with my C.O. at the head of the table. 

 

“I don’t know what I’m doing” he said after a long silence. “I could do all of your jobs” he said smiling looking out at his squadron commanders. “I know how to lead flights, organize schedules, make sure the birds stay up – but I don’t know what to do about this”. 

 

There is a powerful mental state called “Imposter syndrome”. In its most basic form is the belief that one’s own skill, knowledge, abilities are less than what others around you view them as – simply put, you’re an imposter. You might have years of experience at a job be viewed by your peers, bosses, and employees as a total expert but in the back of your head you know that you’re just fooling them all… and yourself. 

 

There is another syndrom of sorts that is also worth examining –  the “Dunning Kruger Effect”. This effect has gotten some notoriety in past years as the wealth of knowledge easily accessible to anyone with a smart phone has grown. essentially , you learn enough to think you know everything when in fact you don’t even know enough to know how little you know

 

“I don’t know what to do about this” – vulnerability is a powerful thing. When leaders, especially good leaders, are able to be vulnerable in front of those they are charged to command it creates a powerful thing – faith. After my commander finished, every soul in that room believed in him more than ever. We believed in him because we knew that he was telling the truth. 

 

Now, I don’t know for a fact that my CO viewed himself as an imposter, but the dogged way he worked to prove he was the real deal might be an important indicator. I also cannot confirm that he ever fell victim to the dunning kruger effect but, anecdotally, most young aviators view themselves as invincible hot shots (TOP GUN if you will). However, with every extra hour in the cockpit they discover just how much more they need to learn. At some point, these two conflicting states of mind reached a convergence for my CO.  He came out the other side a wiser, better leader.

 

It’s the same in coaches. I myself am still headed towards this convergent point. In good moments of confidence I see in myself what others say they see in me – but often I don’t. I at least know that I don’t even know how much I don’t know  – that’s a start. So how do we work through these diametrically opposed forces? I think vulnerability is a good place to start. 

 

Sport coaches, or at least NBA basketball coaches seem to be catching on to the power of vulnerability. In the book The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle he discusses the first day of practice with the San Antonio Spurs and the legendary coach Gregg Popovich. Pop (as he’s commonly referred to) is a man who has been at the top of his field for decades. Seen by peers, players, and the media as a prime example of what a winning coach is. Yet he begins every season by acknowledging his fears of letting his team down, not being a good enough coach, and not being able to meet his players expectations. Vulnerability in action to bring a team together, to level the playing field (or court) so to say. What this unlocks is a level of trust and understanding in all directions that incubates a culture of success. 

 

For too long, barbarized examples of masculine strength have dominated the world of athletics, whether on the field or in a weight room. I know I have gone down this road many times myself. But another NBA coach, Golden State’s Steve Kerr sees another path to victory through vulnerability. “The whole point of competing is to be vulnerable…to lay it out on the line” Kerr said on a 2020 podcast. He links the need to play and compete with your full self; ego, fears, pride, self-consciousness, as essential to victory. And only through being openly vulnerable can our full selves be accountable to others. 

 

Dr. Brené Brown has spoken at great length about the power of vulnerability. Only by accessing and sharing the most fragile parts self can we really work to strengthen the whole. But as coaches and especially young coaches we’re faced with a conundrum. We are tasked with the welfare of young men and women (often not much younger than ourselves) we are asked to lead them and help them improve. We are told to project confidence, to be experts in our craft, to have the answers. But I am not always confident, I do not feel like an expert in my craft, and I do not have all the answers. “Vulnerability is not weakness” Dr. Brown says, “it’s the most accurate measure of courage”. In order to improve we have to investigate, acknowledge, and take ownership of how we need to grow.” 

 

I know I often feel like an imposter in the field of coaching. I don’t have the education background of those I look up to, I don’t have the years of experience of many of my peers, I worry that I won’t be able to make some of the sacrifices so many in this field have to make to advance. I also know I don’t know more than I can even imagine and this is at times almost paralyzing in its scale. The dueling states of “Impostor Syndrome” and “the Dunning Kruger Effect” is ever present – but I’m investigating it, learning to acknowledge it, and working to take ownership of my part in getting through it – I’m learning to be a more vulnerable coach. 

 

My CO said he didn’t know what to do. But he knew that being vulnerable with those other leaders in the room gave them permission to be vulnerable too. He knew that vulnerability from the top down built trust from the bottom up. And he knew that building that trust, while maybe not THE answer, was a start.

 

I don’t know what I’m doing – but telling you that is a start. 

 

 

1. Cuncic, A. (2020, May 1). What is Imposter Syndrom. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/imposter-syndrome-and-social-anxiety-disorder-4156469

2. Vandergriendt, C. (2020, May 15). The Dunning-Kruger Effect Explained. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/dunning-kruger-effect

 

 

 

Bike Ride for Black Lives

One of our goals at UF is to be better members of our community. With this in mind, we are going to host a fundraiser for Pittsburgh Urban League. I had attached the details for this fundraiser and are inviting each and every one of you to come out and have a fun day with us.

 

Date: Saturday, Sept 26th

 

Location: Union Fitness

 

Ride Options: 10 mile family fun ride. This ride will leave UF at 10:30 AM with registration at 10 AM.

30 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 9:30 with registration at 9 AM.

50 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 8:30 with registration at 8 AM.

 

If you wish to join us at this ride we are asking for a donation that for the Urban League of Pgh.

We also ask that you go to MindBody and sign up for the event through our MB site.

Here is the link for donations.

 

Thanks for reading and hopefully you will be able to come out and join us. We will be posting more details as we get closer.

 

Bike Ride for Black Lives

One of the goals here at UF is to reach out to the community and do our part to make this world of ours a better place. Keeping this in mind we will be hosting our first ever fundraising bicycle ride. The title of the ride is “Bike Ride for Black Lives. I have added the details of the bike ride. I would be remiss if I did not add that one of our members is the real reason this is happening.

 

Jessie Theisen is one of our awesome members and she approached me with this idea a few weeks ago. We immediately got to work to make this happen. I want to publicly thank Jessie and her husband Will for getting this started.

 

Details:

 

The ride will occur the weekend of Sept 26th. We are still deciding on whether we will ride on Saturday or Sunday. We are working with a few others groups to make this the best day possible so this decision will happen by the end of the week.

 

We are setting up a go fund me account to donate. All the money raised will go to, the Urban League of Pgh.

 

We are going to have 3 ride options ranging from 10-50 miles. We will have three different start times as well so that the riders doing the long rides will have more time to finish the ride.

 

Sign ups will be live at the beginning of September and will be handled through UF. If you want to involved as either a rider, volunteer or sponsor please reach out to me anytime.

 

Ride Strong!

Todd Hamer

Signal and Noise

I am not sure who at UF is a musician yet I have been playing and performing for my entire life. If anyone has every recorded music you should have heard the terms signal and noise. Each of these matter and I am going to explain why each is important to you in your life, art and lifting.

 

Signal

 

The signal is what you trying to get across to the listener and is generally the main point of the music. To the untrained ear they will often only hear the signal and not catch any of the noise.

 

The signal in lifting and in our lives is simply what we are trying to focus on. It could be the lift itself or quite often a cue from one of our training partners. We send signals to each other all the time while training. Without the signal the noise will do no good for anyone. I look at the signal as following the rules. We must learn the rules before we can consider breaking them. As a beginner make sure you focus on and make your signal very clear.

 

Noise

 

The noise is any of the background sounds in the recording. At times this can be very intentional while at others it can be what the mics happened to pick up or even the echos of the room.

 

The noise to me is where the true magic and beauty happen. One of the biggest mistakes I see in music today is the overproduction of recorded music. For reference point on noise listen to anything recorded using analog not digital recording techniques. Often you can hear the singer breathe or ones finger slide across the guitar. It is  these small serendipitous moments that make the music great. It is also when we learn the most about the music and the artist.

 

In our training and lives noise are the things that we were not prepared for, and how we overcome these issue is how we learn. If your goal for the day is 10 reps and at 10 you decide to keep going and you roll through 20 reps that is noise. It just happened and you went with it. The beauty in this noise is that nothing else matters at this point, the noise is the purpose now.

 

I hope by now you see my point as better stated by Pablo Picasso, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Make fun mistakes, makes some noise and cause some good trouble.

 

Keep rockin and rollin!

Hamer

 

 

Toria’s Trip

Hello! I’m one of the new kids here at UF. I wanted to introduce myself and share a little bit of my story with you all. So… I graduated from Slippery Rock University with my BS in Exercise Science and from the University of Pittsburgh with my MS in Health, Physical Activity, and Chronic Disease. I am currently an Exercise Physiologist at a research lab at the University of Pittsburgh, and a desk worker/soon to be trainer at UF. Now that you know my education and work background, let’s get into the fun stuff. 

 

When I was a student in college, I had gained just about 50 lbs over the course of those few years from being lazy and unmotivated. I believe I gained 25 of those 50 lbs in just one year. I only saw the inside of a gym maybe a few times per year. I was very unhappy with myself and didn’t care enough to try and lose the weight. I would eat fast food and drink pop (or “soda” for you oddballs out there) literally all of the time. I don’t think I really even knew what a vegetable tasted like. My physical and mental health both went down a steep hill. 

 

A little over a year ago, my doctor ordered a blood test because of the rapid weight gain and how badly I had been feeling. The test revealed that I had abnormally high LDL cholesterol levels (LDL = the “bad” cholesterol). At the age of 22 it definitely isn’t normal to have high cholesterol with no history of it in my family. Since I’m young it doesn’t seem like a huge concern, but I sure was scared for my future health. Not long after that news, I discovered a local CrossFit gym that I figured I could try out. I was intimidated and very unsure of it at the time, but I immediately fell in love with exercise and fitness. I ended up bringing my cholesterol levels down, losing all of that extra weight I had gained in college, gaining some solid muscle mass and a lot of confidence along the way. When I first started out, I could barely do a few pushups even from my knees and that extra weight I was carrying put a lot of stress on my joints. Now I can exercise with no pain, do movements I wasn’t able to before, and I feel great while doing it.    

 

I found a love and passion for exercise, and I realized that it’s something I will never give up on unless something crazy were to happen to me. Exercise is truly one of the greatest things on this earth. To be able to physically perform and experience what it can do to you is definitely a blessing as not everyone in this world is able to. On this journey I have learned that fitness is not about being better than someone else, it’s 100% about being better than YOU used to be. If you put even just a little bit of focus on yourself and your physical/mental health progress, it can truly go a long way. I hope my story helps you realize and remember that even with some of the setbacks that come throughout life, you can do anything you put your mind and body to!

 

Stay healthy friends!

 

Toria

Chef CeJ

Hello Union Chefs

 

Today it’s time to get on the line and run a dish on the fly (chef jargon).

 

Here is what is on the menu at Cafe de Union;

 

Fresh As Heck Cucumber & Tomato Salad

 

Quiche Me I’m Irish…Maybe

 

Pineapple Express & Spicy Shrimp Battle Spears

 

Shake Shake Shake Shakshuka 

 

FAH Cuc & Tomato Salad Recipe

 

I’m a big farmers market fan and do my best to get the majority of my produce from these cool pop up markets. Thankfully Union’s own Big Cod “Farmer Fran” Miller brought in some of that fresh fresh produce.

 

Ingredients: Cucumber, Tomato, Hot Pepper, Green Pepper, Garlic, Olives, Onions, Olive Oil, Wine Vinegar, Salt , a weeee bit of Suggaa. Slice, dice, pour, mix, clap your hands and just like that you have yourself a Fresh As Heck Salad!

 

Quiche me I’m Irish…formerly known as Quiche By A Rose Recipe 

 

I like pies and I like breakfast things, so we put it all together.

 

Ingredients: All the Veggies you like, Hot Peppers, Sweet Pepper, Onions, Garlic, Tomatoes, Parsley, Fan Favorite Cheese, Eggs, Heavy Whip It Good Cream, Salt, Pepper, Pie Crust.

 

Sauté up the veggies while the pie crust is baking in the oven and then toss those veggies into a bowl with the eggs, cream and whip it up real good. When you’re ready, pour the mixture into the pie crust and let that puppy bake for about 20-30 minutes. Slice it up and enjoy.

 

Spicy Shrimp Battle Spears Recipe

 

Sweet heat on a fresh Summa Day!

 

Ingredients: Shrimps, Pineapples, Zucchini, Squash, Onions, Sweet Peppers, Mushrooms, Jalapeno, Garlic, Olive Oil, Lime, Red Pepper Flakes, Salt and whatever else you want to toss on the stick. Toss it in foil or right on the grill and let the magic happen.

 

Shake Shake Shake Shakshuka Recipe 

 

A meal all in 1 cast iron skillet.

 

Ingredients: Onions, Garlic, Peppers, Tomato Sauce, Tomatoes Diced, Eggs, Paprika, Chili Powder, Salt, Pepper, Cilantro & Parsley. Sautee all the veggies and sauce in the skillet. After about 10 minutes use a spoon to make a pot hole to crack 1 egg per hole in. Cover the skillet for a few minutes (depending on how “dippy” you like your eggs) Then garnish with the herbs, wipe the drool off your mouth and feast my friends.

 

As always, have fun cooking and devouring new meals! Stay spicy my young Chefs.

 

Cheers,

 

Chef CeJ