Category Archives: Training

Pittsburgh Passion

I first heard about women’s professional football while I was a sophomore in college, running track at the University of Rio Grande. I was also powerlifting at the time, so I was putting on a lot of strength while developing my speed as well. After my sophomore season, I transferred to Cleveland State and tried out for the Cleveland Fusion professional women’s football team. I made the team and fell into the running back position, and immediately fell in love with the game.


Then COVID hit, and like many other sports teams our season did not happen. So, my rookie year was put on hold. I continued to train and lift hard. My goal was to come even more prepared for next season. Eventually I found out that Cleveland was not going to have a team, but I chose to join the next closest team, the Pittsburgh passion.


I made the commitment of driving from Cleveland to Pittsburgh 2-3 times a week to play for this team and it was the best decision I have ever made. I found a sense of sisterhood and belonging among the Passion. The Cleveland head coach, Erik Kiester, also came to Pittsburgh to coach the defensive side, so I had him as a mentor for both years and he has made me the player I am today.


This season has been nothing less than amazing with this team and this city. We have our first playoff game in Tampa on June 11th against the Tampa Inferno.


I am looking forward to the rest of this season, and also the off-season training with my teammates at Union Fitness who is also a sponsor of the Pittsburgh passion team.



Yoga for Lifters

On Sunday July 10th, we will be introducing the first installment of Power Yoga for our members and non members here at Union Fitness. The idea for this class was a collaboration between myself and our amazing Yoga instructors Meagan Gnibus and Haley Tamilia. Over the last few months, the three of us have discussed how we have benefited from the concepts and application of different Yoga techniques. More specifically, how we have applied them to our training, and how beneficial they have been in assisting with our lifting goals.


At first, it started as a simple discussion regarding the types of mobility and activation work that I apply to my powerlifting training, as well as within my client’s training. Then it progressed to how further techniques could be applied to reach even more specific goals. What we found was that there was a huge similarity in our approaches between what is practiced in yoga, and what is used by many individuals who perform rigorous weightlifting techniques. Because of this, we decided to bring you all a class specifically for the people who love to throw chalk on their hands and a barbell across their backs, but may not yet realize the benefits of applying yoga within their training routine. Or, you may already practice this, but maybe would like some new ideas, or a fun group to perform it with on a beautiful summer day.


I took my first Yoga class in 2009. At the time I was beginning my powerlifting journey. After just my first session, I noticed the benefits through mental and physical relaxation, along with an increased muscular and central nervous system recovery, just to name a few. From there, I researched further methods and began incorporating them into my training program within my specific warmup routines, along with my rest and recovery sessions on my off days. What I found was a much higher recovery rate between sessions, along with an increased sense of well being and ability to perform at my highest level on my training days. It has been a huge contributor to my longevity and success within the sport over the past decade. If you want to continue to progress in your weightlifting and powerlifting journey, then you’re going to have to keep your body firing on all cylinders. I can promise you that picking things up and putting them down is only a part of the equation. It’s the things that you do outside of your training sessions that make the biggest difference.


Be sure to block off that calendar for Sunday July 10th, and keep an eye out for more details regarding this awesome event.


– Curtis Miller

Mobility City Baby

Within the past year, mobility has become a large part of my training. It started to become very prominent when training legs, due to tight hips, and back issues. Once I noticed the difference I felt during and after my training sessions, I started incorporating more and more mobility prior to exercising. So why should anyone care that I do mobility, and why should others start adding mobility into their workouts? The main benefits you’ll gain from increasing mobility is a decrease in joint pain, reduce risk of injury, and allow you to move easier throughout your day. 


Joint pain is one of the leading work disabilities in the United States. This type of pain can be caused by an array of reasons; majority of it pertaining to inflammation of the joint, or overworking of the tendons surrounding a joint (tendinitis). So how does mobility fit into this? We’ll have to look into the definition of mobility first. Mobility can be defined as the ability to passively move your muscles and joints through their full range of motion. The fun thing about your muscles is that they can be conditioned through lengthening (stretching) and by contracting (shortening). Conditioning of these muscles and tendons surrounding your joints will drastically improve the way you move inside, and outside the gym. The best way of completing this is moving all your joints through their full range of motion. Resistance can be added as time goes on, as your mobility and flexibility increases, in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints to encourage joint stability.


 When starting mobility, everyone should be referencing their end range of motion, or the length of your passive range of motion. To improve your passive range of motion, you can begin actively training to where your body’s specific end is. The important thing to remember is that every body is anatomically different from the next. My mobility can be completely different from everyone else in the gym due to how deep/shallow my hip or shoulder sockets are, how high of a valgus angle I have, and the amount of joint stability I have. Taking your muscles and joints through their full range of motion on a daily basis can decrease joint pain and risk of injury because it allows everything to become accustomed to this movement and that way whenever the unfortunate happens, it’s not as much of a shock to the affected muscles or joints.


I have listed a few mobility exercises that can be completed in the gym or at home below: 


Wall/ floor angles 

90/90 hip rotations

Hip airplanes

Open books to windmills 

3 way lunge 

Scapular pushups 


If anyone has any questions about mobility or any additional stretches/ exercises they can do to increase their mobility and strengthen their joints, feel free to ask me!


Miranda/ Randi/Randell/Gard


New Olympic Weightlifting Class

What to Expect in the New Olympic Weightlifting Class


Starting the first week of June there will be the first ever Olympic weightlifting class at Union Fitness. This class will be intended for anyone who is new to the sport and looking to learn the Olympic lifts. Here you will learn the snatch, clean and jerk along with accessory lifts to these 3 competition movements. Now you may be thinking, how exactly may these classes be structured? What exactly am I getting into?


Each class will start with a short warm up, I do however encourage coming in a little bit early to start a warm up on your own before class begins. After a warm up, one of the 3 lifts will be discussed. Next, technique of that lift will be practiced before moving to the actual training of the session. The goal for these classes is to learn proper execution and technique of each lift. This is not something that will be accomplished in a single session; however, it will be what these classes work towards. After the technical training, each session will finish with complimentary lifts to the snatch, clean and jerk. These will be movements such as squats, dead lifts, overhead pressing and so on.


As mentioned earlier, the goal of these classes is to teach the Olympic lifts to athletes new to the sport of weightlifting. Rome wasn’t built in a day nor is a weightlifter, but with effort and commitment these lifts can be learned by anyone. Whether you are looking to compete or just learn something new to add into your own training, Olympic lifting is a nice compliment to add to anyone’s training toolbox.



Your Reason/Motivation

Your Reason/Motivation. – Elias (Get Better Today)


What is it that got you started on our fitness journey? All of us have some reason behind why we decided to sign up to join a gym, compete in an event, or start to move to push ourselves and better our health. For some of us we may have wanted to look better, feel better, prepare for an event (whether it be an athletic event or competition, or a vacation or wedding). Whatever the reason may be, we all are typically motivated by something that happened to us that got us to do what we are currently doing.


For myself, going back about 8 years ago, I probably started lifting and working out in high school to just get in better shape. Is there anything wrong with that reason? Absolutely not, and just like many people I wanted to look better. As time passed, my goals and motivation would change from time to time. Yes, everyone wants to look better, or be stronger but eventually I stumbled across the phrase “Get Better Today.” I came across this brand/phrase through a YouTuber/Powerlifter by the name of Russel Orhii back in 2016. To this day this has stuck with me, and personally I believe it is a great saying that can apply to everyone. To me it means that each day we all have the opportunity to find something to get better at and better ourselves.


Regardless of your goals (strength, speed, appearance, improving nutrition, body composition etc…) each of us can do something each day to get better and ultimately be one step closer to our goals. Therefore, my reason/motivation for why it is I do what I do day in and day out is to get better each day.


Think about what your reason/motivation is and remember today YOU have the opportunity to Get Better Today (I believe in you)! – Elias 🙂

Toria’s Tales

Most of us have a natural aversion to change. Change occurs even when we don’t want it to or expect it to.


Speaking of change, for those of you who may not know me, here’s a quick background on how I ended up where I am today: I had started working part time at UF back in June 2020 up until around April 2021. I then decided to make the move across the country to Denver, Colorado to pursue a career in clinical research. After about only 3 months of living in Colorado, I began to feel very sick and very unlike my usual self. Several months later, and several hospital visits later, I had finally met a team of Physicians and Cardiologists who recognized that I have a heart condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia, more specifically Atrial Tachycardia, which is the least common of its form. This is a condition where my heart will randomly beat abnormally and rapidly for no particular reason at all, which causes me to feel very tired, confused, and a little bit scared.


When I had first found out what was going on, the news hit me hard. I had been about 3 years into a successful and consistent fitness/training journey, and all of that came to a halt because I was afraid of having “episodes” while exercising. This was all new to me, and I didn’t want to push myself and see what my limits might be without knowing the possible outcome of the situation. I even worked at a local gym in Denver for a while and didn’t train there even once.


I ended up taking way too much time away from exercising, and I basically became a couch potato. As I mentioned before, I was scared, and so I didn’t really want to change my lazy habits. I then made the move back to the Burgh in late December 2021 and had started a full-time position here at UF in January. I became surrounded by colleagues and gym members who all come in to UF every day with the same goal in mind: to be better. Whether that be a better lifter, or even just a better person, it still involves being a better you. This helped me to overcome my personal resistance to change and begin adding lifting and training to my weekly routine again. I want to give a special shoutout to Curtis who allowed me to jump in on his training sessions back in January when I had first started up again. Also, a special shoutout to Todd who allows me to jump in on his training sessions and some of his weekly bike rides around the city to keep me accountable for adding some cardio into my lifestyle. And finally, shoutout to CeJ, Miranda, and Fawn who have all trained with me along the way and have helped me stay accountable (also a big S/O to the rest of the Team at UF for being an awesome crew to come in and work with everyday). I’m happy to say I have hit some personal PR’s within the past month, signed up for my first meet, and I feel great about it. I’m excited to continue to build those numbers up in the future.


From this experience, I have learned to cultivate a mindset that embraces the changes within ourselves, acquire a positive attitude towards change, and adopt a personal growth mindset.




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!



Summer Athlete Training

College athletes, this one’s for you!


You spent all year training and competing for your sport with your teammates and coaches. Bringing the thunder everyday in the weight room and in your sport arena, paying honor to those who played before you and blazing the path for those to come. Now it’s summer break and many of you are left with no teammates or places to train like an athlete at. Have no fear athletes, your place is here.


Union Fitness is offering College Athlete Group Training to any college athletes in the area. The training will be led by one of our strength and conditioning coaches with athletic performance and competition on the mind. We will have 4 days of training, including a morning and evening group: Monday-Thursday at 10am & Tuesday & Thursday at 7pm. These group sessions will include a general to specific warm up, speed, agility, power, strength, injury prevention, mobility, and overall athletic minded training. You’ll be jumping, throwing, squatting, pressing, flipping tires, pulling sleds, and performing olympic lifts during these workouts. Worried because you’ve never trained any of these movements? One of our experienced strength and conditioning coaches will always demo, explain, and teach each exercise. Currently we are working with Chatham & Point Park University athletes, but this is open to any and all local college athletes that want to be challenged in the summer. The cost of the group is only $50 a month and includes coaching, open gym, and online programing. Groups have already started so if you are interested or know of people who are, reach out to us and let’s roll.


Stay Strong,



Turning Small Wins Into Big Victories

If you follow our Instagram page, then you’ve probably seen our “Takeover Tuesday” stories that we post each week. Sometimes it’s a few helpful tips regarding form or technique. Sometimes it may be our interns giving helpful information. Or sometimes it may be one of us dropping beneficial life knowledge. I would like to think that my recent takeover falls into that category, but I’ll leave that up to you to interpret. My most recent takeover involved the lessons of the barbell and how they can relate to our goals in life.


A few months back, Cody Miller and I were doing a squat session together. We decided to do sets of 20 reps with the SSB bar. If you’ve ever used this bar, you know how challenging it can be. And if you’ve ever done 20 reps on squats, then you know how equally evil that can be. After our second or third set, I racked the bar, looked at Cody, and said “I don’t think I can do another rep.” Cody looks at me and says “Doing reps is like taking steps. You can always take one more step, no matter how bad you feel.”


This resonated with me, as I’m the type of person that always sees the similarities between training and life. If we were to approach each day the same way that we do each rep, of each set, of each workout, then our goals would be much more attainable. In today’s society, we think that we always have to have something right now. If we set a goal, we think that we have to achieve it instantly, or we’ve failed. That’s just not accurate. A better way to think of it is by taking one more step, doing one more rep, checking off one more box each day. If we focus on the smaller victories each day; checking off each box when we wake up, throughout the day, and each night before bed, we will ultimately get to the big goal. But if we only focus on the end result so much that we paralyze ourselves from seeing the smaller wins, then we’re going to have a hard time getting there, and we may even get frustrated before we give ourselves a chance to get to that point.


As I’ve said multiple times, this applies to training as well as to life. They are exactly the same. The best lessons I’ve ever learned are from the barbell and the weights inside of the gym. It taught me how to take these steps, how to progress, how to believe in myself, and how to be patient and hardworking. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it often takes much longer than you would like. But if you continue taking one more step, doing one more rep, and checking off one more box, you will ultimately get to exactly where you want to be.


-Curtis Miller

How Much Ya’ Bench?

A long time ago Saturday Night Live had a skit called “How Much Ya Bench?” This as a Chris Farley classic. It was just a bunch of meatheads talking about bench press and all things meathead. This skit is now over 20 years old and I still love it. I love it for many reasons, first reason is that it’s funny. Yet, the second reason I love to watch it is to see how far lifters have come. I remember 20+ years ago the bench was the lift everyone talked about. At Push/Pull events there were many more benchers than deadlifters. Today it is quite the opposite.


Lifting in the 1990’s and into the 2000’s was dominated by bench press and men. Today meets will have people deadlifting, squatting, and women crushing big weights. What we see is that lifting has progressed far beyond where it was 2 decades ago. It is now usual to see a meet that has even numbers of males and females. Also, deadlift numbers have exploded. Lifters are stronger, healthier, and look much better.


My point to all of this takes me back to one of my favorite quotes.


“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.” Charles Darwin


As a lifter if you wish to move forward then you MUST adjust to the sport. I often hear lifters talk about how it used to be. Yes, I have great memories of “how it used to be,” it is great to recall some great times. I remember competing against and amongst some legends and I look back positively on those times. Now, I have been passed by many young lifters and I have even learned from them. I am still trying to adapt. This takes me to one other quote that I try to live by.


“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Oscar Wilde


Morale to my story is that we must keep moving forward as well learning from and leaning on the people younger than us. Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.