Category Archives: State of the Union

Intern Spotlight, Mikaela

Hello! My name is Mikaela, and I am one of the interns at Union Fitness this semester. I am technically in my junior year at Chatham University. I will be going onto graduate school for Occupational Therapy hopefully after this year. I am currently in my undergrad for Exercise Science, and I enjoy it very much. I love learning about different components of exercise and how to exercise properly to see the best results. Besides building strength, I find it very important to also have a healthy cardiovascular system and living a life with autonomy. Keeping a healthy body and mind can help take you places you may not be able to go otherwise. 


Besides learning, my interests include painting and cooking. I won first place in my states culinary competition and went on to place 16th in the nation when competing at nationals in DC. I competed representing Virginia, the state where I send all my important mail to and lived before coming to Pennsylvania for college. I lived in Ohio until 6th grade and then the rest of my time was spent in Virginia just outside of Richmond. Living in the south technically has taught me that I do not enjoy the heat and all the unnecessary sweat that comes with it. That was one of the main drives to going to school up north. That and I was recruited for Lacrosse at Chatham. I played lacrosse for all high school and then 2 years at Chatham. I retired due to academic taking over but I still love being active. 


My future goals, besides becoming an occupational therapist, consists of being a dog mom and starting a community outreach program. I currently am a loving fish mom of three. Boba is a bubble eyed goldfish, Blaine, like the Glee character, is a blue beta, and lastly the fish with no name, but is referred to as Baby by my roommates, is a mystery baby fish, I got as an accidental bonus with some aquarium plants I got. 


My community program that its totally copywrited, that is if you can copywrite something that benefits the community, is my take on a dollar store thrift store. My hobby, or addiction as my roommates and friends say, is going to the Goodwill outlet where items are pay by the pound. You can get some really nice things for almost no money at all. I love the search for prizes amongst basically trash and while most people will flip these items to make a profit, I want to find the good stuff, clean it up, and give it to the less fortunate for a dollar to 50 cents, because you know I must have some money to continue my addiction. I have found North face coats originally priced at $110 and getting it there would be probably like $3. With goodwill prices increasing due to the popularity of thrifting, it is hard for low-income families to get clothes and items they could get at goodwill for the cheap price’s goodwill used to promote. 


This may all seem silly and nothing to really do with my future career, but I want to thank the Union Fitness Staff for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow towards whatever my future holds. 


Thank you for reading about me and excited to see you at the gym during my exciting time at Union Fitness. 

Thank You

We were able to host the USPA Kabuki Open here at Union Fitness over the weekend. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this event (and many of our events) such a success.


Doug, Candi, and their USPA crew. This event wouldn’t happen without them.


Pitt Powerlifting. These guys and gals are amazing and do all the spotting and loading.


Valkyrie Donuts. Check these guys out for the best vegan donuts out there.


Knock About Coffee. Thanks for brining the coolest coffee shop in town to our event.


Federal Galley. As always our neighbors are there for us and there for you.


Slider Vibes. The offical food sponsor of our event. If you have’t visited this gem yet, then you should check them out in market square.


Curtis Miller. For those of you who don’t know, Curtis does most of the work to set this event up.


Mr John. Yes we even have a bathroom sponsor. If you have ever run any event you know how important this detail is to success. Thank you Mr John for helping us out and being the only bathroom sponsor we will ever need.


Union Fitness Staff. These people are amazing and step up to challenges everyday and for that I thank each and everyone of you.


In addition I would like thank everyone who attended, competed, volunteered, or were involved. Finally, thank you to our wonderful landlord, Faros Properties for allowing us to  make a big mess and loud noises.






Best of da’ Burgh

Fellow Union lovers, friends, family and distant relatives…it’s your time.


This is your time to show Union your love and vote for us for City Paper’s  “Best of Pittsburgh” Best Fitness Center. We were very close last time at taking home the gold and we’d love for you all to hype us up to the Incline, across all three rivers and back dahn the Clemente Bridge to take this year’s Best Of!


Voting is super easy and you can vote vote voter every day until August 31st. Just go to, click Best Of Pittsburgh then head over to goods and services to find Best Fitness center and boom Union Fitness is there for you.


Let’s rock the vote and shock the world by voting Union Fitness Best Of Pittsburgh.


Thank you from Pants N’at and Back!





Cayt’s New Challenge

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


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


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

Update: A Farewell

I have had a wonderful time here at Union Fitness thus far. I came in here expecting to learn so much from my peers and I have. However, my time here is coming to an end sooner than I would like. I have been offered a Graduate Assistant position at the University of Pittsburgh to further my education and gain experience in the world of clinical exercise physiology. I am extremely excited to get started with this journey of mine, but saddened to leave my position here. 


However, you cannot get rid of me that easy. I will still be training at Union when I can and coming in to visit. I have made wonderful connections with both staff and members and I hope to continue to build those connections with all of you. I think this is going to be a huge step in my professional development and I will have the opportunity to learn from some extremely knowledgeable professors and researchers. This was a very quick decision I had to make, but it is getting me one step closer to my long term goals and I am very lucky to have the people in my corner that I do. 


With this plan of action, I am hoping to have a path somewhere with special and clinical populations. These would include obesity, cancer rehabilitation, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation as well. Right now it is unknown where I will end up. But, that is okay. I do not need to know where my endgame will be or even my next few steps. Obviously I have a plan, but you never know how those stinkin little plans will work out. I promise to keep you all updated about my journey; that is if you are even interested. I have had the best experience here and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me. You all are wonderful and beautiful people. I will be around so come say hi when you see me! Best of luck to all of you! 


Happy Training, 



Thank You

One of our members recently said to me, “Pittsburgh does not have a good gym culture.” As a guy who runs a gym this made me sad, yet as one who has lived in 7 different cities I can’t say I disagree. I do believe that we here at UF are trying and working to change that fact, and make Pittsburgh a good gym town.


How are we making this town a better gym town?


First and foremost we are serving our members to the best of our ability. Whether you use one of our personal trainers (they are great), take our classes, or use the fitness center we want to be the best gym culture in town, and make you and our town stronger and better.


Additionally, we work with many different groups in town to make our city a stronger and more welcoming place. We have worked with the Urban League of Greater Pgh, local food banks, Hillman, Wounded Warrior, Pittsburgh Parks, as well as doing our weekly street cleaning in the Northside.


I do want put a focus on a group that many of you helped us raise money for recently. A portion of the entry fee at the Iron City Open went to a donation for Veterans Place.  


Veterans Place is a local organization that works with veterans by offering housing, education, job placement, a food bank and many other services. Please consider donating or offering to help this great organization out. We were happy to be able to donate 500 dollars to this organization yesterday. This small act is one step in creating a better “gym culture” thank you for being a part of this.



Introduction; Miranda

What’s going on Union,


You may have seen me around these past couple weeks, I have shadowed a couple cardio labs and #powerful classes during my first week. Although you might have only seen me a handful of times, yinz will start seeing me more often! I am a new personal trainer and a new front desk person. 


I grew up within a very small town called Leechburg, Pennsylvania. Throughout my childhood I competed in four sports from the age of three to eighteen. I started off with gymnastics and continued with it until I graduated high school. However, once I reached middle school I started cheerleading and volleyball, but since my school was so small, track and field had not been added until my junior year, but only as a club. The positions I played in these sports are: mascot/cheerleader, multiple positions in volleyball from libero to right side hitter, and in track and field I was a pole vaulter. I also competed for my school as an individual in WPIAL gymnastics, where I have won four WPIAL medals for Leechburg. Outside of high school gymnastics, I competed in competitive gymnastics and was state vault champion in 2015. After I graduated I continued my collegiate career with track and field and was a pole vaulter for Chatham University. In my last year, I almost was indoor PAC champion in pole vault, coming in second place. As you can see sports have had a large impact on my life and have contributed significantly to my decision to go into exercise science. 


I attended Chatham University for three and a half years, and I just recently graduated with a degree in Exercise Science. I will be attending Chatham’s Physical Therapy program this coming fall. Having a love for sports and fitness drove my passion in choosing and completing my degree. I have always wanted to learn more about the biomechanics behind exercises since a young age. I am quite passionate about fitness and helping people reach their best selves, but I am always ready for an opportunity to teach and learn new information!


Adopt a Road with UF

One of the goals we have here at UF is to be good stewards of not only our gym, but also our neighborhood, and our world. With this end goal in mind we have added another opportunity for our staff to help our region. We have adopted N Taylor Ave though PGH Street St Stewards. Once a week we head over there, grab a coffee at commonplace, then walk back and pick up trash during our stroll.


This week was our first week and we had a few members ask if they could join us. YES! We would love to do this as a community. So here are the details. We will meet every Thursday at 1:30 PM. We will meet at UF then walk to commonplace with bags in hand. As we walk back we will pick up all the trash we can and then dispose of it at UF. If you would like to join us then let’s do it!


All we need is for you to show up ready to have some fun and make the world a better place. Week 1 took us about 1 hour to complete it all and Hamer, CeJ, Curtis had a blast meeting neighbors and discussing random items we found.


So let’s all come together and make a better world for everyone.



State of the Union; The Staff

Today is one of our beloved staff members last days. I am always sad when a valued member of the team (and a friend) leaves us. Yet as I told Toria, I am sad that you are leaving yet excited to see your adventures and watch you grow. Today if you get a chance stop by and say goodbye to our friend Toria on her last day at UF.


While thinking about Toria leaving I thought it would be a good time to give props to the best gym staff in Pittsburgh.


Cody Miller- Cody and I have known each other for over a decade now and he is a true friend to myself and my family. Cody was most recently a strength coach at Clemson, prior to joining UF. He is also one heck of a powerlifter. In addition he is one of the smartest strength coaches I know (and I know many), even if he drives me nuts, like any little brother should.


Cayt Neff– Can you name anyone who has the expertise to be your Personal Trainer and your massage therapist? I can, and it’s Cayt. Cayt always surprises me as she seems quiet yet her compassion for her clients is top notch.


Ethan Raese– I have been fortunate enough to oversee scores of coaches throughout my career and I have never received as many glowing reviews as I have about Ethan. Not only is he a great coach and trainer, Ethan is also an accomplished musician. How many people do you know that have toured the world playing music?


Gillian Kane– Gil is our in house nerd due to her med school work. So when you see her at the front desk you may notice she is studying for her med school exams. She is also a former D1 athlete, she played volleyball at the George Washington University.


Matt Grayson– Matt and I go back about 15 years when I was just a young strength coach and he was a D-Line coach. We worked closely together to get a leadership academy rolling during our time at Robert Morris University. Matt is a true friend and he is here to help everyone he sees.


Jared Caroff– Don’t let this man’s youthful good looks fool you. He is an elite level powerlifter and in his other job he goes by Dr. Caroff. Jared is a DPT and one strong dude, find him opening the gym for us three days a week.


Jamar Cromwell– Jamar is our in house photographer and sometime front desk guy. Fun fact about Jamar, he like Ethan is an accomplished musician. Jamar is a jazz saxophonist and probably the most humble man to ever squat over 600.


Haley Tamilla– We miss Haley as she is out helping her family during a trying time. When she is here she is our go to yoga expert, and is committed to spreading the good word of yoga. We miss you Haley and can’t wait to see you again.


Steph Stahovic– Or as I call her model Steph. You can catch Steph taking or leading cardiolab classes. She is a true grinder. Steph often comes here in the morning to run a class, works all day, and then comes back to train at night.


Sara Runser– Or as I call her emo Bill Ellish (yes I stole the name, yet it fits). Sara came to us in early 2020 to teach some cardiolab classes, and she is awesome with the positive mental attitude she brings everyday. Also, you never know if she will have dark hair, blonde hair or even purple hair (I like the purple).


Dave Jackson– If you hear a booming voice then Dave is in the house. Like myself Dave came from the strength and conditioning world and you can tell by the fact that his coaching voice goes to 11. He handles most of the morning powerful classes and results don’t lie, he is doing an amazing job with the classes and the members.


Catlyn Brooke– Welcome back to one of longest tenured employees of UF. Catlyn has been an asset for years and we are excited that she is back after some time off. Catlyn is running utility for now as she has no set class schedule, but if you were here in the before times then you’ll be happy to see her back.


Shannon Taub– Welcome the rookie to the plate. Shannon has just joined us to teach some classes. She is a former D1 athlete at Duquesne and is coaching at Duquesne now as well. If you haven’t met her stop by and introduce yourself.


And finally the lady of the hour Toria Crispin– Toria joined us last summer and has done everything here and more. The entire management team of UF wants to send a huge thank you to Toria as she has stepped up, learned new things, grown and even rocked some tunes with me. She is leaving us to go do smart people things at the University of Colorado at Denver. We wish her nothing but the best and whenever anyone is in Denver you have a place to stay (yes I just offered her couch to anyone on earth). Toria thank you for all you have done for UF. Each of us are better for being your co-worker and friend.




Weekly Wrap Up

Another week, another snowfall. I just heard that this year is one of the ten snowiest on record in the Pittsburgh region. So enjoy the skiing, sledding, and snowboarding. Here is a quick run down off all we have going on to get you ready for your summer bodies.


  1. Mark your calendars, for the Iron City Open is back. We will follow all Covid-19 protocols and let’s hope that we are back to a more “normal’ meet this year. More info can be found here.
  2. Head over to our this link to read our member spotlight. Jessie is one of the finest humans I know and it is an honor for us to have her train at UF.
  3. This weeks Podcast we had the AD from Point Park University. Give it a listen on Spotify or Apple under Union Fitness Podcast.
  4. Finally, please read a tribute I wrote to a dear friend who was taken from this earth too soon. May Murat Rest In Peace. Click here.


Thank you for taking the time to read this and as always please give us your feedback. We are here to serve you, and make your visit here one of the best things that happens in your life each and every week.


Yours in strength.


Todd Hamer