Category Archives: State of the Union

New Ryde Instructor Spotlight – Marlee

Hi, I’m Marlee Musico! My interest in indoor cycling classes started about 15 years ago when I was a student at Slippery Rock University. However, I became a more avid indoor/outdoor cyclist when I signed up for my first triathlon in 2018 and heavily relied on attending classes several times per week to supplement my training. When Union Fitness added the Ryder bikes last year, it was perfect timing for me to quit my big box gym membership, join UF, and incorporate Ryde classes into tri training. 


The Ryde instructors quickly captivated me with their high energy and creative class structure. I’m humbled to join their team! After having an indoor cycling instructor certification go unused for four years, I decided I would give it a go when a new instructor position became available. I’m having a lot of fun creating playlists, planning the choreography, and meeting so many new faces. You can catch me on Sunday mornings at 9am. I hope to see you in class!



Tentative #Powerful Schedule

Hello everyone, we are sharing our tentative programming for the 1st half of 2023 for the Powerful classes we have at Union Fitness. We are doing this to keep everyone who is in class more informed about the types of workouts they will be doing so that if they have interests in other areas then they can do that as well.


• January 1st till April 16th
Plan- Prepare for UF Push-Pull Meet
Programming- Emphasis on Squat, Bench, and Deadlift with accessories to aid those movements
• April 16th till April 23rd
Plan- Prepare for UF Push-Pull Meet
Programming- Focus on tapering/pulling back on workouts to prepare for meet day
• April 24th-End of June
Plan- Change to Variations of Main Movers (Squat, Bench, Deadlift) and increase volume/capacity
Programming- Changes to different types of bars and focusing on building muscle/increasing work capacity/ heart health/body composition/overall functionality


Monday- Squat with accessories
Tuesday- Bench Press with accessories
Wednesday- Deadlift with accessories
Thursday- Pressing Movement with accessories
Friday- Conditioning with Functional Mobility accessories


Thank you for your continued attendance and support with our Powerful classes at Union Fitness. We love having each and everyone of you in our classes. We enjoy seeing the growth of you all in your general fitness as well as your growth as human beings. Thank you again for choosing Union Fitness as your gym of choice!
If you have any questions or feedback then please do not hesitate to ask or inform us. We want to do our best to create the most inclusive training environment as possible!



Meet the Interns – Gabriella Turano

Hi everyone! I am a senior student-athlete at the University of Pittsburgh. I am majoring in Exercise Science and will be continuing my career in the field of nursing. I plan on becoming a nurse anesthetist in the future. I have been playing lacrosse for 15 years, specifically goalie.



– Sport specific work

– Approachable

– Experienced Lifting


What I have learned

– Systems used such as team builder and mind/body

– Stance used when coaching

– How to cue people when teaching them specific movements

– Correct positioning when lifting


What I still want to learn

– Find my voice and feel more comfortable coaching

– Business side of the gym

– Technique/ form behind major lifts (started to learn already)

– Personal training

– Writing programs


Looking forward to meeting you all here at Union Fitness!



Meet the Staff – Zain

Hello Everyone,


I know that I have met some of you, but my name is Zain Skalos and I was just hired here at Union as Lead Personal Trainer. I was born in Pittsburgh and grew up just a little north of here in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. I graduated from Seneca Valley High School in 2014 and shortly after my graduation I enlisted in the United States Navy. During my time in the Navy, I was an Aviation Structural Mechanic and had the opportunity to travel the world. I was able to visit several countries such as Brazil, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, and many more. On these deployments, I found my passion for fitness and realized that I did not want to be in the military for my whole life. That is where I decided to get out after my 4-year enlistment and go to college at the University of Pittsburgh.


During my time at Pitt, I competed in two men’s physique shows, competed in several powerlifting meets, and got my bachelor’s degree in exercise science. While getting my bachelor’s, I was given the opportunity to intern at Union. Ever since the first week of my internship and working with Dahveed, Cj, Toria, Curtis, Todd and many others, I knew that I wanted to work here. Luckily, Toria gave me a chance and I was able to start working at the front desk. And from there it was history.


I am very grateful for all the learning experiences and opportunities that they all have given me, and I cannot thank each staff member here at UF enough. Currently, I am in the process of getting my Masters Degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology at Pitt and working on my own personal health. I love all Pittsburgh Sports (especially the Steelers and Pitt sports), working out, hanging out with friends, and watching movies or shows. I am very excited to start my position here and to get to know each and every person that is a member at UF. Feel free to stop me if we haven’t met so that we can connect on a more personal level. Let’s get in the trenches this year and walk the walk! #h2p #golers


Two Truths and one lie. If you guess right then you get a complimentary high five from myself!

  1. I am the oldest of three boys. My poor mother.
  2. I have seen Nelly the rapper live in the Phillipines. #thrillainmanila
  3. I was in the ROTC in high school. Cadet for life!



Thank You Curtis

Curtis has officially resigned his full time position here at UF, and now he has been gone for one week. I wanted to take a moment today to publicly thank him for all he has done. Too often we do not thank those around us, and those who we spend time with.


Curtis joined UF in 2019 (just a few months before I did), and he made a huge impact. When I was brought on as GM here at Union I immediately recognized how Curtis connected with so many of our members. I told him recently that I was jealous of his empathetic way of coaching. I doubt that most people think of a person who deadlifts 800 lbs and thinks, “this person is really going to understand what it’s like to be a beginner.” Curtis is one of the few people I know who can be an expert and still understand how it feels to be a beginner.


I am very proud of the team we have built here at UF and I have not doubt that we will continue to serve everyone who walks through our doors. Curtis moving on from Full-time to Part-time from Union will be a challenge, and we are up to that challenge. As Charles Darwin said,


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”


It is time for a change and we will miss Curtis and all he brought to us. We will also attempt to add on to the strengths he left behind, while adding our own unique flair to UF.

UF’s Wall of Accomplishment

My strong, spunky and spirited Unionites!


What would Union be without you? Your dazzling and unmatched personalities make UF the most remarkable place to train in all of Pittsburgh. From here to Mars we couldn’t find a more astounding group of dashing do-gooders. We want to hype up and highlight our members, because this is your gym sanctuary where you lift each other up along with these weights. Well, how much more could you hype us up, CeJ? Hold onto your butts my courageous lionhearted chums. I want to highlight one of your accomplishments that exercise and the gym has assisted you to carry out. If wellness gave you the mental strength to present your artwork, we want to see it. If strength & conditioning provided you with the courage to compete in athletics or college sports, we want to gas you up. If group training provided you to valiantly sign up for your first marathon, lifting meet, show, or any competition, let’s get you on the wall.  Please send a digital picture of one of your favorite accomplishments to, and let’s get this Wall of Accomplishments started. If you have any questions, please reach out to me. I can’t contain my excitement to see what our ravishing members bring in.





Curt Signing Out

For those of you who may not know, I was born and raised in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. One of those places where very few people ever leave. My Wife, Liz, grew up here in Pittsburgh in the North Hills and moved down to Maryland for a teaching position at the local high school. We both met each other on the first week of our new jobs. Me as a Personal Trainer, and her as a High School Math teacher who became a member of the gym where I worked. She always had ambitions of returning to Pittsburgh, while I swore that I’d never leave home. 


Over the first few years that we were together, we made monthly trips up here to the city. Every time we were in town, we would make it a priority to stop by Union Fitness for a training session. Over that time, we met some absolutely amazing people who are now some of our closest friends. Each time we would leave to head back to Maryland, I would ponder what it might be like to live here. Each time, I grew closer and closer to making the jump. Being away from my family for extended periods of time is hard for me, but I knew that I needed to grow, and I knew that this City was going to help me to do that.


One day in January of 2019, I came home after a 12 hour day of training clients, looked at Liz, and told her that we should move to Pittsburgh. She asked if I was serious, but she already knew the answer by the look on my face and the tone in my voice. It was time. So we decided that she would finish out the school year, and I would finish my time at the gym. We decided that we would head up at the end of June. During that time, neither one of us had a job lined up here in Pittsburgh. I was willing to work wherever I needed to in order to make ends meet, and we knew that Liz would have no trouble finding a teaching position, even if it took some time.


One month before our move, I got a phone call from my good friend Casey Williams, who at the time was the Manager of Union Fitness. He told me that he needed a Director of Personal Training, and asked me if I’d accept, but he already knew the answer. It felt like it was meant to be. When I finally started at Union, my goals were to be the best Director, co worker, professional, and friend that I could possibly be. Every day for the past 4 years, that was everything that mattered to me. Since coming on board around the same time I did, Todd has trusted me and has given me the opportunity to grow and evolve, while also passing along the wisdom that he has acquired throughout his career. And for that, I cannot thank him enough. My co workers have been some of the best I’ve ever had. Because of them, there wasn’t one day that actually felt like work. They’ve believed in me, just as I’ve believed in them. I’m extremely grateful for all that they have done for me. The amazing members of Union Fitness are the reason that I get out of bed every morning. Seeing everyone grow and progress into the best versions of themselves while building the confidence to take on the world is the most gratifying thing that I’ve been a part of. I am forever grateful for meeting and working with everything single person.


Unfortunately, my time as the Director of Personal Training/ Customer Engagement here at Union Fitness has come to an end, and it is time for me to pursue the next step of my journey. You will still see me in the gym working out and training a few clients, so please do not hesitate to come up and ask me for help, advice, or just to catch up. Pittsburgh has become my home, and I look forward to continuing to grow with each and every one of you.



The Strength Project

Hamer may be making me write a blog on my birthday… but it’s only because we have some very exciting news to share with all of you!


Starting January 9th, we are kicking off the 2023 Strength Project here at Union Fitness!


What is this “Strength Project” you ask? Here are the details below:


  • The Strength Project is a 10-week challenge for members who are looking to explore more of our classes. Entering this challenge will include your chance to win some awesome prizes.


  • This 10-week challenge will begin on January 9th and will run until March 17


  • During these 10 weeks, you will be tasked with taking at least 30 total classes here at UF
    • The stipulation is that you can take any of our Powerful classes, however we ask that you take at least – 3 RYDE classes, 3 Yoga classes, and 3 Cardio Lab classes total – accounting for 9 of those 30 total classes.
    • We ask that you please be sure to both sign up and sign into each of the classes that you take, so that we can keep track of who was present in each class and make sure to give you the credit that you deserve. If you don’t sign in, we can’t tell whether you were taking the class or not, so you may not have that counted towards your total!


  • Everyone who completes the Strength Project will be given a Union Fitness T-Shirt


  • Everyone who completes the Strength Project will also be entered to win one of three prizes:
    • 3 Free months of our NEW Wellness Plus membership.
    • 1 Free month of our NEW Wellness Plus membership.
    • $50 Gift Certificate.


  • Starting from now until January 8th, you can sign up for the Strength Project on MindBody. It will be set up just as if you’re signing up for one of our classes, and it will be a class sign up on the day of January 8th.
  • Bring a friend! If you have a non-member friend interested in joining us, they can buy in to the strength project for 250 dollars. This will give them 3 months of training. For each friend you bring you will get another entry to win our prizes.


We are looking forward to tracking all of your class progress over these 10 weeks and seeing how many you are able to complete! Please be sure to sign up on MindBody and to let us know if you have any additional questions, comments, or concerns.



2023 UF News

As we are all seeing from Spotify wrapped, 2022 is coming to a close. With the end of the year we here at UF are spending time on two important issues. First and foremost we are judging your Spotify wrapped and wondering what that music is you are listening to (jk, maybe).  The second thing we are working on is our new plans for 2023. Here is a short list of things we will be doing to end 2022 and kick off 2023.


  1. First ever members get together. We will host this December 21, 2022 from 7-9PM in the performance lab. Bring a small treat to share and we will have some fun together. We may even have a few things to give away.
  2. Return of the strength project. We are in the process of making changes to how this program was run in the past. Keep your eyes and ears open for ways to improve your fitness and life through this popular program.
  3. 2023 kick off superclass. We will kick off 2023 with one more superclass. This class will be January 1st, 2023 at 11 AM. Sleep in then roll over to the gym and have some fun with us to kick off 2023. We will then open our doors for all members from 12-4PM on New Years day.
  4. Powerlifting is still here at UF. We will be hosting two meets again this year.
  5. United not divided workout. We are proud to work closely with our friends at LEG1ON Training on this great workout. This year we will have 4 gyms coming together to host a workout. Time and date to be announced soon.
  6. Last but not least. You! We are here to serve you and we are always looking for ways to improve. Please stop by anytime and tell us your goals and how we can help you.


There it is. 2023 is almost upon us and we are ready to make it a strong year.


Todd Hamer

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.