Category Archives: State of the Union

State of the Union, Summer 2022

Summer is quickly approaching and we have some fun events planned as always at UF. As always our goal is to not only be a great place to train, we also want to be a place to build a stronger community. We are changing some of our class schedules as well as hosting some special events. Made you a short cheat sheet for our changes below.


  1. New Olympic lifting class added with Ethan. Tues and Thur at 7 AM in the performance lab.
  2. Run group reforming in mid-June. Watch out for details with our all star runner Katie Jones.
  3. Allegheny City Brewery bootcamp. May 28th 11 AM.
  4. Iron City Open is back! June 18th all day here at the U!
  5. July 16th Out Athletics bootcamp.
  6. July 24th special workout with two other gyms… Details to come soon.


This is just a short cheat sheet of events and changes coming to better serve each and every one of you.


Hope to see all of you soon for one or many of these events.



Schedule Changes

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!



State of the Union April 2022

It has been a while since we have had a state of the union blog. With spring having sprung this weekend I figured it would be a good time to review some of the things we have going on at the U.


The warm weather has arrived and the garage door is open. We are again working on a busy summer of fun at Union (the U). Here is a short list of things we have going on in the near future.


  1. We are hosting a conference this weekend at Nova Place. This is one of the top conferences in the country, with presenters coming from around the world.
  2. Iron City Open is back! Sat 6-18-2022 is the date! Come watch some lifting!
  3. We will be hosting another Out Athletics event. This event is to help raise awareness and money for LGBTQI+ community.
  4. We are working with LEG1ONand Pittsburgh Fit Project to host a group workout at UF this summer. We are doing our best to collaborate with other gyms, and help grow the fitness community. We will announce this date soon.


This just a short list of things happening at the U this summer. Now go outside and enjoy the sun today!





State of the Union

I always wanted to be a politician (for those who aren’t aware, I actually am one). Being a politician I have to be able to give a state of the Union (Fitness) address.


The last few months and 2021 has brought some changes to UF. We started 2021 by re-opening after a brief mandatory shut down. We have done our best to keep UF a clean and safe place to train for everyone. Below I will highlight some of our changes, accomplishments, and plans.


  1. Fundraisers. We are proud to continue doing fundraisers to help our neighbors and our world. This year we worked with Urban Impact, Veterans Place, Wounded Warrior, OUT Athletics, and multiple food banks. We are also accepting non perishable food until the end of the month for our needy neighbors.
  2. In 2021 we again hosted two USPA powerlifting meets. We also had an in house Push-Pull competition. Keep your eyes open for more opportunities to compete at UF.
  3. Staff changes. We lost some quality staff this year. While we are sad to see them go we are always happy to see them get new opportunities. Cayt and Cody left to move to North Carolina. Dave left us to move to Georgia, we tried to keep Thor.
  4. We are hosting a CVASPS clinic here in April. CVASPS is one of the most respected clinics on the topic of training. Click on the link to learn more.
  5. New staff. We have hired some new staff, they will be writing introduction blogs, so keep reading our blogs to learn more about our new staff.
  6. Staff is still training and competing. We have had staff compete in numerous lifting events this year. Follow along the blog to read more, and wish Curtis good luck in Vegas this weekend.
  7. We have expanded our relationships with both Point Park and Chatham Athletics. We are proud to work with these two awesome universities.


Finally, to each of you, thank you for empowering us to help you along your health, fitness, and strength journey. As 2021 begins to fade into our rear view mirror please keep us up to date on your goals, and needs along this journey.


Yours in strength,


Todd Hamer



Hola, Dahveed and Welcome to UF

¡Hola familia de Unión! My name is Jose Dahveed Jorge but you can just call me Dahveed- I am the newest addition to this wonderful place. I am originally from Caracas, Venezuela but I moved to the United States when I was 14 years old with my mom and my younger brother. We moved to a small town called Findlay in Ohio. When I moved here I spoke little English- I knew basic words such as food or water but that is about it- so you can guess how easy it was to live in the US for the first couple of years. Once I started feeling more comfortable with the English language, I started playing sports. I wrestled, ran track, played soccer, and swam. I have been swimming since I was about three, so I felt more confident in swimming than anything else. Playing all of those sports is what drove me to follow the career path that I have now.


I attended Bowling Green State University where I actually started as a Criminal Justice major. I wanted to be a forensic scientist but after taking a couple of criminal justice and political science classes I said “NOPE” that shit was too boring. On top of that, the major required a LOT of writing, and let me tell you something, I am no writer, so I switched majors to Exercise Science: Athletic Training. I loved Athletic Training- it made me feel like a doctor. The only bad thing about it was that there was a lot of downtime and I can’t just be sitting in one place writing SOAP notes, accident and injury reports, or treatment logs for hours. So, you might be thinking- “Dahveed if you loved it so much why switch because of such a small thing?” You’re right it was a very minuscule thing but, to be honest, AT didn’t feel like the right path for me, so I decided to switch majors again to Strength and Conditioning!


After I graduated I got a job at a small private facility in Perrysburg, Ohio where I began my coaching career. I coached a variety of sports while I was there, and I got to work with some great athletes and some amazing coaches who have taught me just about everything I know. I worked there for three years before I told myself I needed to move on. I wanted to grow more as a coach and as a person, so decided to move to Pittsburgh. Why Pittsburgh? Well, good question! I have been to Pittsburgh quite a bit and I really liked this city- it reminds me a lot of my hometown in Venezuela- being here is the first time in a really long time that I have felt at home. My time here so far has been amazing. I am very grateful that I get to work with such awesome staff, athletes, and members! I can’t wait to see what else Pittsburgh has to show me.


Some little fun facts about me: I love to cook and try new food. I have eaten a lot of different foods but some of the weirdest things I have eaten have been jellyfish, alligators, scorpions, and spiders (all cooked of course). I collect loose leaf teas, and my favorite at the moment is Gyokoru (a Japanese green tea). I like to think of myself as a big nerd because I love video games, anime, marvel movies, and shows, etc. I am fluent in both Spanish and English, and I can read a little of Japanese Hiragana. I love the Browns (it’s gonna be tough being a browns fan around here), Cavaliers, and Indians/Guardians. That’s it for the fun fact if you want to know more feel free to ask!


Gracias for reading a little bit about me and my life, I cant wait to see where things go from here!


Superclass…TURKEY DAY!

A few times a year we get the chance to close UF down for the day and hold one big Superclass. Nothing says sweating and working hard like turkey day. We are excited to have this years biggest workout on Thanksgiving. We will be using the entire gym and can spread everyone out safely.


As with all of our special events this one will be free to anyone and everyone who wants to attend. What we do ask is that you support a good cause by either,


  •  Bring non-perishable food items in this month, or
  •  Donate cash to our secret fundraiser. It’s only a secret because it is going to be a surprise for a friend of the gym, who has had some health issues.


This years Superclass with be held at 10 AM November 25th. The class with take around 60-75 minutes. The class will be a mixture of lifting, cardio, and stuff that only CeJ understands. We will have special gifts and prizes for those who attend. Join your friends from the gym, and burns a few calories prior to eating your face off. Our goal is to have fun, raise money, and make sure we don’t lose all of our gainz during the holiday season.


Bring  friends, family, or anyone visiting for the holidays, and let’s all get strong together!



All About the Members

Here at UF we have a great community. I know this seems cliche as everyone says their “community” is great. Well, too bad I’ll be cliche and tell you ours is better. Over the past 15 years Crossfit has grown, and a huge plus is how it helped create communities. While we are not and never will be anything like a Crossfit gym, we can learn from everyone, this includes our Crossfit friends. I have seen some awesome gyms with awesome people and I have no doubt that the people of UF are the best, most helpful, and strongest of any gym I have ever been to.


Today I am going to celebrate some of our members and give some quick shout outs.


Josh Conroy- Josh is here to make everyones day better. He is willing to help anyone every time her enters UF and we thank him for his positive mental attitude.


Thad Fields- Whether he is taking Yoga or training for an olympic meet with Ethan, Thad is quiet consistency. We can all learn from watching Thad and his determination. 


Emily Shope- Emily has transformed her life through training, and she is as dedicated and committed as they come.


Carlan Gray- At our members Push/Pull last year Carlan had one of the best lifts I have ever seen. Carlan does not know what quit means.


Ward Stanford- You may never meet a nicer guy lifting big weights. 


Letha Mills- Letha has been training with Miranda for a while and is getting stronger everyday!


Tim Bickerton- If you are ever having a bad day just smile at Tim and I promise you’ll be stronger, and your day will immediately improve.


Millind Hurake- I believe Millind was a member of UF before it even opened. I appreciate every time I get to see Millind.


Kim Canfield- She joined us from a friends gym in Ohio, and has been a positive force here since her first day.


John Fratangeli- John shows up early in the morning to improve daily, and is a positive force. 


Nate Harris- Nate is taking a little time off yet he is the nicest, strongest guy I know.


This is a very short list of some of our awesome members. I know many of you that I left off, yet I could go on all day. Now introduce yourself to someone new and let’s make UF, and the world a more open and happy place.









One Area I Know I Failed

Union Fitness is such a unique “gym.” We have had comedy shows, host powerlifting meets, raised money for the Urban League of Great PGH, act as the strength and conditioning department for two universities, and are the coolest gym around (IMO). Even after stating that I know I have failed all of you. As I review what we do, and what we can do better, I realized that I have done a terrible job at reminding everyone why we are here.


One of the first things I did two years ago was to come up with out tenets. I wanted to make sure we knew why we were doing what we were doing. We created a comprehensive list of tenets that defines our why. Since then I have done a terrible job sharing and reminding everyone of this information. I am now going to do a much better job sharing this information. I will start by remind you what are tenets are.


Unions Tenets

1.   Postive mental attitude.

We must be the thermostat not the thermometer.

2.   Create community and be a team.

Be a great flight attend.

We are here to create an experience.

3.   Enjoy what you do and have fun.

If you do not enjoy your job or your training then who’s fault is that?

4.   Educate yourself and others, continue your education.

We are all educated and must continue to learn more as well as teaching what we know.


If you don’t want to train then why are you here?


6.    Perception is reality.

The members perception of your attitude is your attitude.

7.    Be the presence.

Every member should hear their name at least once during their visit.

Make sure people know when they are here, that they are the most important person.


There it is, the 7 tenets that we must stick to here at UF. Please hold us accountable to these. As we continue to work on being the best for all of our members, if you see us fail to live up to these then please tell us.



Be in Better Shape, Be a Better Person

We began having our powerful classes write goals on the dry erase board. We are doing this so that we can see each others goals.  Just the process of writing a goal down can help keep one honest to their own personal goals. We at UF try to be a team, and hope this practice can help the team moving forward and working together.


In addition to this I have had two of the teams we train run to the Roberto Clemente statue at PNC Park this week. Selfishly, I love spending time going to see statues and memorials for humans who changed the world in a positive way. Growing up in PGH Roberto was a always a hero of mine. Tenzing also loves Roberto, he said his favorite baseball player is Jackie Robinson, and his second is Roberto.


These two separate actions got me thinking more about how to improve (personally and professionally). One of our awesome members said they wanted to improve in their sport, and be a better person, this hit me hard. Be a better person is such a simple thing. Simple acts can change the world, the butterfly affect is real. I took this one goal to heart and it helped me think about how I need to step my game up.


Now I am asking for a favor from all of you. Hold us accountable. We cannot be everything to everyone, yet we can help everyone to the best of our abilities. With that said please feel free to bring your constructive criticism to us. I know we make mistakes, but with trust and respect for one another, I also know we can serve you and our community better.



The Cowboy Rides Off



We learn, we get stronger, we grow, and we move on. That is the SparkNote story of our faithful amigo Josh Elsas.


Josh is one of our good friends and lifters and king of all podcast producers. He graduated from Robert Morris University (RMU) with a degree in television and video production. Josh won two Telly awards from RMU and dominated the Dean’s list for six semesters. After college, Josh worked with WPXI, Mind Over Media, Penn State Hockey, USF Football, Rutgers Football, and USA Hockey and made a few music videos along the way. He is also the creator, producer, and ruthless talent of Thoughts from the Bench, By the Slice, A Great Depression, Two Beers Deep and more timeless podcasts. Josh is an outdoor adventuring, deadhead loving, pizza demolishing, beer cracking, gem of a human.


We all want to wish him the best and offer our congratulations as he moves on to The University of Wyoming to be their Director of Creative Video for Athletics. We thank you for being you, bud.


Three Cheers to Josh and long live the emo king!


P.S. Go watch or listen to his podcasts and follow his adventures as he dominates the video world.


See you later homie,




Note from Hamer: In English, this means Josh we wish you well and we are grateful for all you have done for us here at UF. Godspeed our friend.