Category Archives: State of the Union

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. 

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!