I first heard about women’s professional football while I was a sophomore in college, running track at the University of Rio Grande. I was also powerlifting at the time, so I was putting on a lot of strength while developing my speed as well. After my sophomore season, I transferred to Cleveland State and tried out for the Cleveland Fusion professional women’s football team. I made the team and fell into the running back position, and immediately fell in love with the game.
Then COVID hit, and like many other sports teams our season did not happen. So, my rookie year was put on hold. I continued to train and lift hard. My goal was to come even more prepared for next season. Eventually I found out that Cleveland was not going to have a team, but I chose to join the next closest team, the Pittsburgh passion.
I made the commitment of driving from Cleveland to Pittsburgh 2-3 times a week to play for this team and it was the best decision I have ever made. I found a sense of sisterhood and belonging among the Passion. The Cleveland head coach, Erik Kiester, also came to Pittsburgh to coach the defensive side, so I had him as a mentor for both years and he has made me the player I am today.
This season has been nothing less than amazing with this team and this city. We have our first playoff game in Tampa on June 11th against the Tampa Inferno.
I am looking forward to the rest of this season, and also the off-season training with my teammates at Union Fitness who is also a sponsor of the Pittsburgh passion team.
On Sunday July 10th, we will be introducing the first installment of Power Yoga for our members and non members here at Union Fitness. The idea for this class was a collaboration between myself and our amazing Yoga instructors Meagan Gnibus and Haley Tamilia. Over the last few months, the three of us have discussed how we have benefited from the concepts and application of different Yoga techniques. More specifically, how we have applied them to our training, and how beneficial they have been in assisting with our lifting goals.
At first, it started as a simple discussion regarding the types of mobility and activation work that I apply to my powerlifting training, as well as within my client’s training. Then it progressed to how further techniques could be applied to reach even more specific goals. What we found was that there was a huge similarity in our approaches between what is practiced in yoga, and what is used by many individuals who perform rigorous weightlifting techniques. Because of this, we decided to bring you all a class specifically for the people who love to throw chalk on their hands and a barbell across their backs, but may not yet realize the benefits of applying yoga within their training routine. Or, you may already practice this, but maybe would like some new ideas, or a fun group to perform it with on a beautiful summer day.
I took my first Yoga class in 2009. At the time I was beginning my powerlifting journey. After just my first session, I noticed the benefits through mental and physical relaxation, along with an increased muscular and central nervous system recovery, just to name a few. From there, I researched further methods and began incorporating them into my training program within my specific warmup routines, along with my rest and recovery sessions on my off days. What I found was a much higher recovery rate between sessions, along with an increased sense of well being and ability to perform at my highest level on my training days. It has been a huge contributor to my longevity and success within the sport over the past decade. If you want to continue to progress in your weightlifting and powerlifting journey, then you’re going to have to keep your body firing on all cylinders. I can promise you that picking things up and putting them down is only a part of the equation. It’s the things that you do outside of your training sessions that make the biggest difference.
Be sure to block off that calendar for Sunday July 10th, and keep an eye out for more details regarding this awesome event.
– Curtis Miller
Within the past year, mobility has become a large part of my training. It started to become very prominent when training legs, due to tight hips, and back issues. Once I noticed the difference I felt during and after my training sessions, I started incorporating more and more mobility prior to exercising. So why should anyone care that I do mobility, and why should others start adding mobility into their workouts? The main benefits you’ll gain from increasing mobility is a decrease in joint pain, reduce risk of injury, and allow you to move easier throughout your day.
Joint pain is one of the leading work disabilities in the United States. This type of pain can be caused by an array of reasons; majority of it pertaining to inflammation of the joint, or overworking of the tendons surrounding a joint (tendinitis). So how does mobility fit into this? We’ll have to look into the definition of mobility first. Mobility can be defined as the ability to passively move your muscles and joints through their full range of motion. The fun thing about your muscles is that they can be conditioned through lengthening (stretching) and by contracting (shortening). Conditioning of these muscles and tendons surrounding your joints will drastically improve the way you move inside, and outside the gym. The best way of completing this is moving all your joints through their full range of motion. Resistance can be added as time goes on, as your mobility and flexibility increases, in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints to encourage joint stability.
When starting mobility, everyone should be referencing their end range of motion, or the length of your passive range of motion. To improve your passive range of motion, you can begin actively training to where your body’s specific end is. The important thing to remember is that every body is anatomically different from the next. My mobility can be completely different from everyone else in the gym due to how deep/shallow my hip or shoulder sockets are, how high of a valgus angle I have, and the amount of joint stability I have. Taking your muscles and joints through their full range of motion on a daily basis can decrease joint pain and risk of injury because it allows everything to become accustomed to this movement and that way whenever the unfortunate happens, it’s not as much of a shock to the affected muscles or joints.
I have listed a few mobility exercises that can be completed in the gym or at home below:
Wall/ floor angles
90/90 hip rotations
Open books to windmills
3 way lunge
If anyone has any questions about mobility or any additional stretches/ exercises they can do to increase their mobility and strengthen their joints, feel free to ask me!
What to Expect in the New Olympic Weightlifting Class
Starting the first week of June there will be the first ever Olympic weightlifting class at Union Fitness. This class will be intended for anyone who is new to the sport and looking to learn the Olympic lifts. Here you will learn the snatch, clean and jerk along with accessory lifts to these 3 competition movements. Now you may be thinking, how exactly may these classes be structured? What exactly am I getting into?
Each class will start with a short warm up, I do however encourage coming in a little bit early to start a warm up on your own before class begins. After a warm up, one of the 3 lifts will be discussed. Next, technique of that lift will be practiced before moving to the actual training of the session. The goal for these classes is to learn proper execution and technique of each lift. This is not something that will be accomplished in a single session; however, it will be what these classes work towards. After the technical training, each session will finish with complimentary lifts to the snatch, clean and jerk. These will be movements such as squats, dead lifts, overhead pressing and so on.
As mentioned earlier, the goal of these classes is to teach the Olympic lifts to athletes new to the sport of weightlifting. Rome wasn’t built in a day nor is a weightlifter, but with effort and commitment these lifts can be learned by anyone. Whether you are looking to compete or just learn something new to add into your own training, Olympic lifting is a nice compliment to add to anyone’s training toolbox.
Your Reason/Motivation. – Elias (Get Better Today)
What is it that got you started on our fitness journey? All of us have some reason behind why we decided to sign up to join a gym, compete in an event, or start to move to push ourselves and better our health. For some of us we may have wanted to look better, feel better, prepare for an event (whether it be an athletic event or competition, or a vacation or wedding). Whatever the reason may be, we all are typically motivated by something that happened to us that got us to do what we are currently doing.
For myself, going back about 8 years ago, I probably started lifting and working out in high school to just get in better shape. Is there anything wrong with that reason? Absolutely not, and just like many people I wanted to look better. As time passed, my goals and motivation would change from time to time. Yes, everyone wants to look better, or be stronger but eventually I stumbled across the phrase “Get Better Today.” I came across this brand/phrase through a YouTuber/Powerlifter by the name of Russel Orhii back in 2016. To this day this has stuck with me, and personally I believe it is a great saying that can apply to everyone. To me it means that each day we all have the opportunity to find something to get better at and better ourselves.
Regardless of your goals (strength, speed, appearance, improving nutrition, body composition etc…) each of us can do something each day to get better and ultimately be one step closer to our goals. Therefore, my reason/motivation for why it is I do what I do day in and day out is to get better each day.
Think about what your reason/motivation is and remember today YOU have the opportunity to Get Better Today (I believe in you)! – Elias 🙂
Most of us have a natural aversion to change. Change occurs even when we don’t want it to or expect it to.
Speaking of change, for those of you who may not know me, here’s a quick background on how I ended up where I am today: I had started working part time at UF back in June 2020 up until around April 2021. I then decided to make the move across the country to Denver, Colorado to pursue a career in clinical research. After about only 3 months of living in Colorado, I began to feel very sick and very unlike my usual self. Several months later, and several hospital visits later, I had finally met a team of Physicians and Cardiologists who recognized that I have a heart condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia, more specifically Atrial Tachycardia, which is the least common of its form. This is a condition where my heart will randomly beat abnormally and rapidly for no particular reason at all, which causes me to feel very tired, confused, and a little bit scared.
When I had first found out what was going on, the news hit me hard. I had been about 3 years into a successful and consistent fitness/training journey, and all of that came to a halt because I was afraid of having “episodes” while exercising. This was all new to me, and I didn’t want to push myself and see what my limits might be without knowing the possible outcome of the situation. I even worked at a local gym in Denver for a while and didn’t train there even once.
I ended up taking way too much time away from exercising, and I basically became a couch potato. As I mentioned before, I was scared, and so I didn’t really want to change my lazy habits. I then made the move back to the Burgh in late December 2021 and had started a full-time position here at UF in January. I became surrounded by colleagues and gym members who all come in to UF every day with the same goal in mind: to be better. Whether that be a better lifter, or even just a better person, it still involves being a better you. This helped me to overcome my personal resistance to change and begin adding lifting and training to my weekly routine again. I want to give a special shoutout to Curtis who allowed me to jump in on his training sessions back in January when I had first started up again. Also, a special shoutout to Todd who allows me to jump in on his training sessions and some of his weekly bike rides around the city to keep me accountable for adding some cardio into my lifestyle. And finally, shoutout to CeJ, Miranda, and Fawn who have all trained with me along the way and have helped me stay accountable (also a big S/O to the rest of the Team at UF for being an awesome crew to come in and work with everyday). I’m happy to say I have hit some personal PR’s within the past month, signed up for my first meet, and I feel great about it. I’m excited to continue to build those numbers up in the future.
From this experience, I have learned to cultivate a mindset that embraces the changes within ourselves, acquire a positive attitude towards change, and adopt a personal growth mindset.
It’s a strange time right now in Pittsburgh. The sun is shinning, the birds are chirping, and the Pirates have been winning some Baseball games. Here at Union Fitness, we are making some seasonal changes as well in order to better suit our members and to bring them some new additions. Beginning on May 31st for the month of June, we will be adding a new class to our line-up, along with some adjusted hours and locations for our current classes.
Beginning on May 31st, we will be temporarily removing our 7am Powerful class from the schedule and replacing it with an Olympic Weightlifting class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This class will be coached by none other than our resident Olympic Weightlifter, Ethan Raese. If you’ve been in the gym while Ethan is training, then you know how much he enjoys Olympic lifting, and how dedicated he is to the craft. As with all of our classes, there are always modifications and progressions for each movement and exercise. So even if you have never tried Olympic lifting, you will have no problem getting into the swing of things even after one session. Be sure to sign up online or stop by the front desk to reserve a spot.
Also beginning in June, our evening Cardio Lab class will be moving from 5:30pm up to 5pm to ensure that all of you have more time to enjoy these beautiful spring and summer evenings. In addition to this, our evening Yoga classes will be moving to the Cardio Lab area immediately after Cardio Lab class is finished at 6pm. On the weekends, our Saturday and Sunday our 10:30am Yoga class will be taking over the indoor and outdoor space over at our Performance Lab location. By doing this, you will have a chance to enjoy the refreshing outdoor space provided by that section of our gym.
As always, your first class in on the house. We would love for anyone interested to try out our classes to see how you like them. For more information on any of our classes, please check out our website. For all information regarding times, locations, and instructors, check our schedule on our website or on the Union Fitness App. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone there!
Pittsburgh is well known as one of the rainiest cities in America. We all know that the winters can be long, and not very vibrant. Now is the time to get outside, enjoy the sunshine, and the free Vitamin D that it offers.
Vitamin D has been written about often and I will not bore you with more details on this micro-nutrient. What I will say is you must remember that your body needs sunlight, your body needs Vitamin D, and Vitamin D needs sunlight. Most Americans are Vitamin D deficient due to lack of exposure to sunlight.
Concerts and Cycling.
One of the best things you can do for your health is get outside. As many of you already know I love mountain biking. I love it for a multitude of reasons, not the least being that I get to be out in nature. When I do solo rides it is not unusual for me to stop and just sit in the woods. The Japanese call this shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. This can also be translated to absorbing the forest atmosphere. The point is to get out in nature, get some free sun, and some exercise with minimal added stress.
Now for the concerts side of this coin. I have performed music my entire life and I love many types of music. Most Americans stop learning new music by the age of 30. This is just as scary to me as when I read most Americans don’t read books. One cannot separate the arts from movement. Humans need both to grow mentally and physically. This takes us back to Vitamin D, I know this Saturday Tenzing and I will be sitting in the sun listening to the amazing Adia Victoria.
Find what moves and motivates you. Find ways to get sunlight, discover new things, and find growth. Get Vitamin D, cycle, walk, and jam to some new tunes. Reduce your stress and collect the free Vitamin D.
One of the coolest things about UF is the diversity inside our gym. We have diversity of clients, classes, and employees. I never know what I am going to get from one day to the next. This week I want to break down our classes, (in a light hearted way) and the diversity of the classes. So I hope we can all laugh at ourselves.
- Blitz- I am going to start with my class. This class was founded back in 2020 for the busy office worker (clearly I am terrible at predicting the future). It is a class perfect for people like me (want to train, but come on let’s not work too hard). Seriously, though the class is meant to be short, fun, and a little bit of everything. So no need to sweat so hard, just come and get a little lunch sweat.
- CardioLab (the classic)- These classes are OG’s of UF. They have been around forever and I tell everyone here the goal is to burn 500 calories, as painlessly as possible. Warning, burning 500 Kcal is never painless. Make sure you take Steph’s class for extra pain.
- Powerful- Powerful is by far our most popular class. Imagine training for a sport that scores of people throughout the US train for, this is powerful. Yet, somehow the crew makes powerlifting look cool in this class.
- Ryde- Ryde is our indoor cycling class. Similar to CardioLab classes, Ryde will burn some serious calories. The Ryde instructors are also great DJ’s as they all have their playlists set far in advance. This is the newest group here at UF, and they have brought their own flair to the gym,
- Yoga- Haley and her devoted yogi instructors do a great job, on a rare occasion you may even find me twisting my body up with this crew. Plus, they do cool events like heavy metal and whiskey yoga.
There it is our classes in a nutshell. Now go take a class or two and have some fun.
UF was proud to host the CVASPS event this weekend. For those of you who do not know what CVASPS is, CVASPS is the Central Virginia Sports Performance Seminar. It was started at the University of Richmond by Jay Demayo. Jay has year in and year out brought together some of the greatest minds to speak on sports performance.
This year we had people from Penn St, University of South Carolina, Coaches with Olympic Medals, Quinnipiac University, as well as many others in attendance with tons of great experience. We would not be able to host such an amazing event without being here at Nova Place, and having Alloy 26 right behind us. These facilities give us the opportunity to host some of the best continuing education clinics and seminars in the country. In addition to all of this Mike from Slider Vibes and The Yard came through with some quality food for everyone.
We host a seminar without somehow involving a deadlift. We are very lucky to have Curtis Miller, a world-class deadlifter working here at UF. Curtis spent time with seminar attendees going over all things deadlift. Without Curtis, we would not be the gym that we are and we all owe him a huge THANK YOU.
We are trying to bring more educational opportunities to everyone here at UF. So be on the lookout for more.