Category Archives: State of the Union

State of the Union

Summer is quickly coming to a close and we are preparing to spend more time indoors. With the change of season we feel it is important to discuss a few different things. First we want to be sure everyone feels comfortable training in a safe environment.  We also want to show all of you other projects we are working on to make us not just a stronger community but also a better community.


In August we began an assessment of the gym and of our services. We have had a questionnaire at the desk for over a month now. Over 50 members responded and most comments were positive. What we did learn is that keeping a clean and safe environment is very important to all of our members. We take this very serious, and have been running through cleaning products quite fast. We are doing our best to not only make sure the facility is clean, but to also make sure everyone feels comfortable. Please tell us when you see any issue that makes you feel unsafe.


As you have probably seen we have done our best leaving doors open and moving outside for as many activities as possible. We will continue to do this as the weather permits. Let’s hope it stays warm so we can continue to be outside. Once the weather changes and we can no longer move outside we will review how many people are permitted in the gym (this has not been an issue yet). We are hoping that everyone can continue to work together to make us the best gym in Pittsburgh and the safest.


Return of the podcast.


We now have our own recording studio. With the help of one of our awesome members and local podcast host Josh Elsass we set up a recording studio and we are going to return to recording weekly podcasts. These podcasts can be found on all your podcast apps and is called the Union Fitness Podcast. While you are at it check out the numerous podcasts that Josh hosts.


Bike ride time.


We are hosting a bike ride on Sept 26th (special thanks to Jessie Theisen). The ride will benefit Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. We are asking for donations through our go fund me site and you can sign up on using MindBody app or through our website. The details are below and here is the link for donations.



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.


Other updates.


After our review we also discussed our classes and how we can improve the experience for you the member. We will be adding some free classes for all members until the end of the year (watch for an announcement), we are also going adjust our schedule slightly. As always if you see something that does not work for you please communicate that to us.


We are also beginning an instagram meet the staff series. Every Thursday you will see a short video highlighting one of our staff members. Hopefully this will introduce some of you to our amazing team here at UF.


As always feedback is welcome. If you every have any issues in the gym please contact Todd Hamer and feel free to give us the good, the bad and the ugly. We are here to serve you.


Todd Hamer





We Need YOU!

It has been an interesting year for me personally and professionally. In the last 12 months I left an industry that I was in for two decades, moved, became the GM at UF and we then had a pandemic. During this time we as a team here at UF have been able to review and reflect on our why. Why do we work here? Why do we do what we do?


What I have learned over the last 12 months is that there are many parallels from my previous industry to my current industry. As with most jobs our jobs here are people first. We must help all members of UF as well as Team UF (this includes all employees). A piece of advice I was once given about this, always be employee first not customer first. If as co-workers we don’t treat each other well then we won’t treat the customer well. Our goal is to treat you well and give you the opportunity to succeed.


UF members join for a multitude of reasons. Some members just come to run on a treadmill and get a little sweat, some do yoga and others join to be a high level athlete. No matter the reason anyone comes to UF it is our job to empower you to be a better version of yourself. With this in mind we are now asking you for some feedback about how we can better service you!


Next time you visit UF please stop at the front desk and fill out a short questionnaire about how we are performing. We debated doing this online, the reason we are doing this in the gym is we want you, the people who actually attend the gym to give feedback. Please be honest and give us your opinions. We are going to leave these questionaries up until the end of next week. After we receive all of them we will review and I will write another blog post about what we are doing to address any issues that we see.


Yours in strength,


Todd Hamer

Enjoy the Ride/State of the Union

Happiness Quotient (HQ) is the level of happiness one has achieved in their lifetime. How much happiness do you generally have in your life? This is a simple yet important question and in today’s blog I’d like to help you move your HQ up a notch or two. In addition to becoming happier you may even learn something about our cool little gym.


Most people are stuck at a certain level of happiness. If they won the lottery they would (within a year or two) fall back or climb back to where they were prior to being rich. On the flip side if they were to have a terrible accident, within a year or two they would return to approximately the same level of happiness they had prior to the accident. With a quick google search you will find a few books on this topic. I first read about this idea years ago and it changed my life, my training and my work. Decide how happy you want to be and then be that happy. I understand that I am writing these words during a major shift in our society. I believe that makes these words that much more important.


Union Fitness


I spent twenty years as a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level. I have had the ability to work with olympians, pro-athletes and some of the finest humans I could have ever encountered. I truly enjoyed all of what I did as a strength coach and I am proud of what I did as a coach. When I took over at UF in October I was taking over an extremely successful gym that did not need an overhaul. I saw myself as the luckiest man around. Then a pandemic hit and we shut down. I tried to be proactive, we shut down a few days before others. I believed it was the right thing to do. Initially I thought it would be a few weeks and things would be back to normal. Well almost three months later we re-opened our doors. During those three months here are some things we did to try to keep our community together.

  1. We hosted over 200 online “classes.”
  2. We offered suspension, cancelation as well as deferring payments for anyone who asked.
  3. We lent our equipment out to anyone who asked (including non-members).
  4. We increased our blog posts to daily.
  5. We did the best job we could keeping in contact with our employees and members.
  6. There are a few other things we did that you’ll have to ask me to tell you. But, we tried to help.


This list is how we tried to keep some normalcy. When we returned our membership dropped about 35%. Since then we have tried to do what we can to ease people back into the gym. We have offered some free classes, outdoor activities and done our best to keep a clean and healthy training enviroment. I know for a fact even with all of our trying we failed some of our members, and I am not happy about failing anyone. Yet, I know we tried and that makes me rest well at night.


So let’s enjoy the ride together. Knowing that we have some members who are still suspended, some that have left us and others that are nervous to return, I have made you a short list of other groups you can try until you are ready to re-join us at UF. This is a list of companies in the area that host outdoor events and will be perfect to talk to while the weather is still warm, and when the cold returns and you are ready to come back inside come see us at the gym. Until then find ways in this strange time to raise your HQ.


  1. Stand up PGH
  2. Venture Outdoors
  3. Pittsburgh Parks
  4. Bike Pittsburgh
  5. Trail Pittsburgh


This is just a short list that I have either personally worked with or I know people who have. Go to their sites support local and enjoy the outdoors. When you are ready to return to the gym we will be here for you to come back inside. Unless you are training for a meet or a bodybuilding show then don’t worry about the weights they will be here when you return.


Until then raise that HQ and enjoy your ride, hike, walk or whatever.

What are we doing to be good neighbors?

Recently we posted about how we at Union Fitness want to be a part of the solution in this world. There are numerous issues facing our world today. A global pandemic has affected our country more than most. There have been racial strife throughout our country and the world. In addition we still have obesity, homeless veterans, unequal educational system and many other issues. We are “just a gym” so how we make our neighborhood and the world a better place?


Below I have listed groups that we have worked with and what we are doing and added links so if you want to get involved you can help out as well. This is our opportunity to improve our little piece of the city and our world.

  1. We have hosted events for and raised money to support Wounded Warrior Project. We have donated our time and space to their cause as well as held classes to raise money for them.
  2. We have hosted events and raised money to give to the Hillman Cancer Center. This was a special event as one of our members was diagnosed with cancer and overcame it with the help of these fine people.
  3. Hosting a few classes to donate food to Northside Commons Ministry was a great opportunity to help in our own back yard. This is a group that is always in need of food and money to help with their cause.
  4.  A group we are just beginning to work with is Pgh Parks Conservancy.We will be cleaning the park. This is a great opportunity help in our own  back yard.
  5. We are working to combine forces with Urban Impact to aid them and assist in training their youth sports teams.
  6.  We have donated goods to the Women’s Shelter of Greater PGH.    
  7. For our friend CeJ’s Big Bad B-Day we raised money for the Northside Humane Animal Rescue.

This is just a short list of groups we have worked with. We are now working to come up with more groups that we can work with. Yet, if you are looking for a place to start making the world a better place these groups all do great work. 

Stronger Together

We want to let you know that we are here to support you through all that is happening in our country.  The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have ignited demonstrations around the country.We stand in support of and in solidarity with the people and communities who are championing equality.


In our community we want these unfortunate events to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion and our stand against racism.


The issues people are voicing today are deep-rooted and require meaningful change.  We understand that to make change takes action.  Solving these issues will take an unrelenting commitment to fight against racism and on behalf of equality.  That action needs to begin with all of us and we look forward to working to build a more equitable future for our company, communities, and country. To help drive these vital changes, going forward we are committing that a portion of all future charitable donations by Union Fitness will be committed to Black owned businesses, community based organizations and underrepresented people in our local neighborhoods.


We wish you all well.



Welcome to the Green Phase

As per the governor’s announcement today, we are now moving into the green phase of re-opening. What does this mean to us? It means Union Fitness will be re-opening! Before we can re-open, we have some house cleaning to do. 


Equipment loan program.


If you borrowed equipment from the gym, we ask that you return it next week. We will have staff in the gym from 12-3 every day for you to drop off any equipment that you borrowed. When you drop it off, make sure the staff checks off what you are returning. If you have issues with drop off times, email and we can work with you. 


Expanded UF.


Our expansion is nearing completion. We were planning on having a party to open this space, yet we feel it is inappropriate to host a large event right now. Instead we are doing a day of outside classes on June 13th. We will have a schedule posted next week for our kickoff. We will have free classes all day and they will all be held outside on our new turf.


Iron City Open.


The meet we host every year has been postponed, and we are planning on hosting this meet in August. Let’s keep our city healthy so we can get back to doing what we love!


Finally, we will have new policies for everyone entering the facility. Here is a list of the new policies we will be enforcing.


Re-Opening Procedures Union Fitness

  1. Everyone entering UF will have their temperature taken. Anyone with a temperature above 100 degrees will not be allowed to enter.
  2. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 we ask you to stay home and observe the CDC guidelines regarding quarantining periods before returning to UF.
  3. If you test positive for COVID-19 or become aware that you have been exposed to someone who has the disease we ask that you promptly inform Todd Hamer so that we can have the sanitation procedures recommended by the CDC completed for the impacted areas.  We will keep this information confidential and will not identify you.  Our staff will be following the same procedures.
  4. Everyone who enters must first go to the locker room and wash your hands.
  5. Please respect everyone and wipe down equipment before and after each use using the disinfectant wipes provided by UF.
  6. All staff will be required to wear masks while inside the UF space.  All clients must wear masks when entering and exiting Nova Place, until they are within the UF space.
  7. Personal equipment cannot be left within the facility until further notice. 
  8. Gym capacity will be 20 people maximum in fitness center, 15 people maximum in strength lab, 10 people maximum in cardio lab and 12 people maximum in performance lab.
  9. A maximum of 5 people will be allowed in the locker room at any one time. We ask that you do not spend unnecessary time in the locker room. If there are 5 people or more in the locker room, please wait your turn.
  10. Use the hand sanitizer provided.


Please be patient and understand that we are all getting through this together. We will  do all we can to assist our members and work to resolve any issues you may have.


These procedures will be updated as the situation evolves and we receive guidance from applicable governmental authorities.

State of the Union

We have now been closed for just over two months. Like many of you we can’t wait to return to the gym and Nova Place for some lifting, coffee as well as food and libations from Federal Galley. We still do not know when we will be re-opening, yet we are doing all we can to prepare for when that does happen. I wanted to write this post to tell all of you what we have been doing to prepare. We have some exciting things on the horizon and when we do re-open we will be ready to do more to help each and every one of you.




The expansion that we have been working on is moving forward. The work is almost done and the floor and outdoor turf will be down in two weeks. The equipment from elitefts is going to start arriving soon. When this space opens we will have more outdoor space than indoor space. We will also have garage doors that open to the turf. In the age of Covid-19 it will give us the opportunity to train without being stuck indoors. 




We have increased our cleaning in the facility. This began before the shut down and will continue when we are able to re-open. We will continue with hourly wipe downs as well as our night crew disinfecting the entire facility. We have also had the ceilings and overhead ducts cleaned during this shut down.


Redefining who we are.


We have spent time doing discussing what we want to be and how we want to best service our members. It is important that we remember during this process that we want to be a part of the community and a gathering place for a diverse group of peoples to arrive and become better versions of theirselves. With this in mind we have set up a meeting with outside organizations to help us serve our clients better.


Following safety guidelines.


We have yet to receive safety guidelines from the state on how we can safely re-open. To be proactive we have reviewed Ohio’s safety guidelines and we are prepared to open with these guidelines. While we understand that Ohio’s guidelines are not going to be the same as PA’s we  are being prepared based upon the best information that we have available. The moment PA announces their guidelines we will review those and update ours to match. We want to make sure that you have a great and safe experience at UF and will do all we can to make this happen. 


In addition to these guidelines we are working closely with Faros properties to make sure that we are doing everything in accordance with the state, county and city to keep our facility safe. 


We appreciate each and everyone of you and hope to see you very soon.


Todd Hamer

Union Fitness Equipment Loaning Program

To all UF Members,


We here at Union Fitness hope you are all doing well and doing all you can to stay strong and healthy during our time away from the gym.


Allegheny County is moving into the yellow phase of re-opening. Gyms are not a part of this phase, yet it is a step in the right direction. We want to be available to help as many people as we can until we are able to re-open. The county enters the yellow phase on Friday, May 15th.


We at UF will begin loaning our equipment to you, our members, so you can continue to stay active while at home. Starting Monday, May 18th, we will be open from 8 am-Noon to loan the following items: a bar and up to 4 bumper plates, or 2 kettlebells, or 2 dumbbells. Any other requests will be handled as they come in with management approval. We just want to do our part to try to help out. *This is for active UF members only.*


We do ask that anyone who comes to borrow equipment follow a few guidelines to respect everyone:

  1. Wear a mask the entire time you are in UF.
  2. We will limit the total number of people in the facility at one time (please be patient).
  3. Enter through our front doors and leave through the strength lab.
  4. Check-in with a UF team member so we can record what you are borrowing.
  5. Be respectful of all those in and around the facility and socially distance.
  6. Wait for your turn.
  7. Depending on demand we may put time limits on certain items (if barbells are popular we may ask you to return them after a week or two)


In addition to the equipment, we are working with FitFresh to resume food delivery. If you have your food delivered through FitFresh you can pick it up at UF during these hours. Please work directly with Jodie on this. We will also have some FitFresh meals for sale. If you want multiple meals we recommend contacting Jodie directly.


Thank you and we are excited to be moving in the right direction. Please continue to do your part to help us and we will be re-opened as soon as it is safe.


Stay Healthy,


Todd Hamer

General Manager, Union Fitness

How to Support Local and Small Businesses

Hello my friends,


During these strange times a lot of our favorite small and local businesses are taking a hit from the effects of CV-19 and social distancing. It’s time like these that if we are able to lend a hand to those small business and choose their products/ services over the big mega-mart business, now is the time. I know for dang sure when all this is over I want to sprint to my favorite small businesses in person and give them my love and support. I’ve ordered take out (food, craft beers & coffee) from my beloved local business and plan to order a handful of gift cards to distribute to family & friends to support while we still practice social distancing. Until then here are some ideas of things we can do to keep our friends  & cherished businesses alive.


Support Small & Local Businesses 


1) Share your go to businesses on your social media page and give them a shout out for their goods.
2) Leave a review on Google, Yelp our that business’ web-page to help boost online ratings.
3) Refer your friends to what these businesses have to offer and the current services they provide.
4) Buy gift cards now for future expenses.
5) Don’t cancel events that you planned with that business, reschedule.
6) Check to see if the business is offering online services (therapy, music lessons, financial advisement etc). Shameless shout out check out UF’s Instagram live classes they are offering.
7) Pick Small/Local over the mega-marts and big companies when shopping online or in person.
8) Take care of the service workers that you are picking up your take out or craft beer growler with a nice tip.
9) Offer your unique services that may be able to promote or assist your favorite places.
10) Give a donation.
11) Be a good person, say thank you and reach out when you can.


If you know a friend or just want to share your favorite small/local business please comment on and share this article. At Union we are in the works on some ways that we can support our members businesses and the places around us. I can’t wait to see you when things get under control. Stay strong, healthy and go support your local business.


“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.” -The Beatles





Welcome to 2020

If you look back at our last blog post of 2019 you will see that we some exciting things coming up at Union Fitness this year. With these new things comes change and growth. We are adding new staff this month and will be introducing each of these staff members as they come on board.


We have spent much time looking into how to best serve our members and who would be the best fit for this goal. If you are an avid reader then you have probably at least heard of the book “Start with Why.” Simon Sinek does a fine job in this book reminding the reader that your why is what matters. With this in mind we have searched for our why. It would be easy to say we are a gym and we are here to help people get in shape, get stronger or more athletic. These are all fine reasons for us to be here every day yet what is more important is that we are a company that empowers people to improve their lives.


This leads me to the point of this post. The State of the Union! We are doing great and we hope that we are helping do great things in your life. If we can improve we ask for feedback. Stop by and see us and we will listen. The biggest thing that we have coming up in the near future is the Strength Project. Here are the details for those of you believe this will help you on your path.


Dates, January 13th-March 14th.


What can you expect?

An opportunity to sit down with one of our coaches and plan your goals.

A massage upon completion of the program.

5 Free meals from Fit-Fresh.

A cool t-shirt (everyone loves a free t-shirt).

The opportunity to compete in our first ever Push Pull fundraiser.


What do you need to do?

Complete 28 classes over the two months.

Complete at least 4 yoga classes during this time period (these count toward your 28).

Support others in the Strength Project.

Become stronger, leaner and healthier.


The Strength Project is just one of the programs we will be rolling out, if you are interested stop by the front desk so that we can sign you up. If this program does not interest you then stay tuned as we have some additional programs that will be coming up in the near future and we can help all of our members reach their goals.