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Alison’s August Training Log

If you talk to any coach in the industry for long enough, they’ll tell you they face burn out in their own personal training from time to time.  As coaches, we want to gift our time, energy and attention to the positive changes that are taking place within our clients’ lives.  It’s not uncommon to give so much of yourself to your clients that there isn’t much leftover for your own endeavors.  Sometimes our own training gets set to the side.  My dedication to my clients is unwavering and I wish I could say the same about my training.  But here I am, and I’m accepting that it’s just a phase in my life right now. 


So to accommodate the burnout I’m feeling in my training, I switched my focus to full body training days.  This way, if I can only manage to fit in one or two sessions a week at least I’ll hit all the major body parts. I have three days per week programmed and lately I’d call it a great week if I get to all three. C’est la vie, I guess!


Below is day 1:


A1. Zercher Box Squats 3×6

A2. SL D-Ball Walking Lunge 3x one Turf Length per Leg

B1. Tempo RDL’s [3 sec ecc. 3 sec bottom pause 3 sec top pause] 3×8

B2. Ring Rows 3x 15

C1. Bench Press 3×5

C2. Eccentric Cable High Row 3×8

D1. Pause Leaning Lateral Raise 3×8

D2. Back Ext. Oblique Twist 3x 15

Lindsey’s Training Log – Fixing My Squat

One of the biggest benefits of working at a strength-focused gym is the input your coworkers can give on your training. Casey caught me squatting a week ago and told me something I never thought I’d hear: my quads were the weak link in my squat and I need to focus on bringing them up. 


I’ve been “quad-dominant” my whole life, meaning I have a hard time using my glutes and posterior chain in most movements – instead, my quads “take over” the movement and do the majority of the work. I’ve spent most of the last two years working on activating and using my posterior chain in my lifting, so now I guess it’s time to change things up!


Because of running so much, I need to be careful about (re)incorporating quad-focused work. I squat and then do a hard interval run on Tuesdays. I need my legs to be as close to recovered as possible for my long run on Saturday. 


I started this a few days ago, and I’ll be honest, I’m still a little sore. I think I’ll be fine for a good run tomorrow though.


1Front SquatWork up to a heavy triple195×3, 175x3x3
2SSB Pause Squat, light3×53×5 @ 155
3aSSB Bulg. Split Squat, light3×83×8 @ just the bar
3cBand Monster Walk3 trips3 (long) trips
4aSingle Leg Squat to Box3×8 per3×8 per, med. box
4bSingle Leg RDL3×8 per3×8 per @ 35
4cStability Ball Hamstring Complex3×10 each3×10 each
5aHanging Leg Raises3×153×15
5bSide Plank Dips3×10 per3×10 per
6Interval Run1 mile warm-up easy

3 x 1200m @ 7:13 pace

Lindsey’s May Food Log

Let me start out by saying that yes, I realize this meal is seasonally inappropriate. I run cold for some reason so when it dropped down to the 50s Sunday evening, I took full advantage and made myself a stew.

I’ve been traveling a lot recently, so haven’t had a ton of time for meal prep. I have a few staples when I’m lazy that I’ll post on here at some point. This weekend I finally had a day to get caught up, so in this log I want to focus on the big piece of chuck I slow roasted.

I’ve been lucky enough to go in on a Butcher Box membership with a friend. It’s a monthly meat delivery service and I cannot recommend it enough! Every order has been full of delicious, ethically sourced meat, and it ends up being WAY more cost effective than what I was doing (going to the Giant Eagle in my neighborhood every other night). I’ve had chicken, pork, and beef from them and have loved every bite.

Since I was chilly and had this piece of chuck sitting in my freezer, I went all out and actually turned my oven on to roast it (and later some broccoli, which is my absolute FAVORITE roasted veggie – all you need for this is to toss that broccoli in a bunch of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then roast for ~20 minutes at 375 deg. F).

For the stew, you’ll need:

A 2-2.5lb beef chuck roast
Avocado oil (or your favorite cooking oil)
5 carrots, cut into large chunks
1 yellow onion, halved
~3 cups of beef stock
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme (getting Christmas-y in here)
Salt and pepper

To make it:

Let your chuck roast come to room temperature, then pat dry and season all over with at least salt and pepper.
Preheat your oven to 275 deg. F.
Heat your oil of choice in a heavy bottomed pot that’s oven safe and has a lid for later.
Add the halved onion, brown on each side, then remove to a plate.
Add the carrots to the hot oil, browning for 1-2 minutes. Remove to plate.
Add more oil if needed, then sear your roast on both sides. Remove to plate.
Add ~ 1 cup of beef stock (or red wine if you’re fancy) to deglaze the pot. Really scrape all the good brown bits off the bottom. You won’t regret it.
Add the roast back to the pot, and then add your remaining beef stock. It should come about half way up the roast.
Add your carrots and onion, plus some more salt and pepper to taste, and the fresh herbs.
Cover and place in the oven. Roast for ~2.5 hours, depending on your oven.
Pull it out, let it rest for a bit, and enjoy!

We have a rice cooker at work, so I’m eating this on a bed of rice every day. Would also be fantastic with some rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes!

If you’re not weird and cold like me, maybe save this for the fall. It’ll still be good then!

Why Do We Wait Until Monday?

It can be easy to fall into the fitness all-or-nothing trap. It’s either you go hard every single moment at the gym or it’s not worth going at all. It’s either you track and measure every gram of food that goes into your mouth or you splurge for the 30 count Chik-Fil-A nuggets. Then when your “live healthy” plans are ruined and you’re dunking the 30th nugget, you say to yourself “I’ll start fresh on Monday” and then proceed to eat like crap until then. We have all said it. We have all done it. We have all leaned on the excuse of a specific start date for a new habit or routine. Sometimes it is the age-old classic of “I’ll start Monday” or perhaps “New Year, New Me” or even something specific to you like your birthday.

In the weeks leading up to my 35th trip around the sun, I began to make all of these grand plans about my health & wellness yet I find myself waiting until the actual date of my birthday to do anything about them. Ironically, my birthday this year also happens to fall on a Monday. So it got me thinking: why do we wait until Monday to start something??

What IS it about Mondays exactly? It turns out there is actually some empirical research on why we are drawn to Mondays to begin (or break) a habit. But first a little history lesson: the Babylonians were the first to name the days of the week, stemming from planetary bodies. Sunday was named after the sun and Monday was named after….you guessed it, the moon! The Romans, under the rule of Emperor Constantine, established the seven-day week as we know it, designating Sunday and Monday as the beginning of the week (1). So the idea of Monday being the start of the week is really just a social construct, meaning it’s not truly based on any biological or planetary reasoning. Monday is the beginning because Emperor Constantine said so.

Research tells us that there is something a little special and something a little terrible about Mondays though, and it’s not just that we have to return back to work or school for the week either. Statistically more people will have heart attacks, strokes and other negative health events on a Monday compared to any other day of the week. But more people are likely to quit smoking on a Monday and more doctor appointments are scheduled on Mondays than any other day (2). Also anecdotally, Monday just happens to be our busiest day here at Union Fitness. So, despite Monday being a man-made idea, it seems we involuntarily adhere to its “fresh start” or “day to dread” powers. So what does this research mean for us exactly?

Well it’s simple folks– stop giving Monday so much damn power! It doesn’t even deserve it. Monday is a day that might kill you or a day full of potential but either way, a social construct shouldn’t have so much power over your life. YOU are in control, not Emperor Constantine. He’s dead. Begin your “fresh start” on a Thursday or even go crazy, say f- it and start like RIGHT NOW. The point is, the day of the week doesn’t matter. What matters is our mindset. It can be tempting to put off your fresh start until the moment is right. We think that moment will magically happen on Monday morning. But “right” is subjective and time is often arbitrary so chances are it’ll never be just right. You want to start eating healthier? You don’t have to wait until all 30 chicken nuggets are down the hatch and Monday morning rolls around. You can start at chicken nugget #3 or #17 or #29. Believe it or not, there is a middle ground to your health & wellness habits. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to wait until Monday.




May Training Log- Alison

Training Log: May


There’s no “real”, so to speak, training going on right now. There’s no meet in the future that I’m preparing for, no special fitness goals I’m trying to accomplish and no set program that I’m following. My training lately has been whatever feels good.


But I am just a few days shy of my 35th birthday and I’m feeling rather nostalgic. As I sit here and reflect upon my life (which I think one often does with an upcoming birthday) I cannot help but feel full of gratitude for the life I have. I have three great kids, an amazingly supportive family, fantastic friends and a fulfilling career. It’s kind of remarkable really to revisit the path that I took to get here to Union Fitness. So for this training log I’m going to talk about how my fitness journey has transformed over the last 35 years.


Cue childhood through college where I had no idea exercise existed. I didn’t play any sports, I couldn’t run a mile to save my life and weight training was something that wasn’t even on my radar.

Fitness and anything even remotely related continued to stay off my radar until I moved to California in 2006. I began running partly because California was too beautiful to stay indoors and partly therapeutic. Discovering I had a long dormant competitive gene after my first marathon was definitely one of those game changer moments. I couldn’t get enough.



So I ran more marathons,

dabbled in yoga,

took hikes to take in the beautiful scenery & climate ,

went rock climbing,


and even had a brief stint in golfing.


Classic California living continued until 2012 when this happened:

After gaining 80lbs with the twins, struggling with post partum depression and trying to find a way to balance single momhood with getting the pre-baby bod back, my brother-in-law introduced me to CrossFit. We mainly worked out in his garage gym, conveniently located next door to my mom’s house where I was now living in Pittsburgh. He signed me up for my first competition and, to my surprise, I actually won.



So I got certified to teach CrossFit.



CrossFit lead me to getting certified to teach Yoga,



and Olympic Weightlifting.


All of which lead me here, to Union Fitness.



I finally felt like I had found a fitness home after bouncing around teaching from gym to gym and studio to studio. Union Fitness and the people here expanded my brain and my heart more than I ever knew possible. Beyond having the best career and dream job, my personal fitness was reaching an all-time high. And then this happened:



It’s been a long process of recovery (which I’ve detailed in my previous training logs) but it’s also been an amazing path to new quests, new knowledge and new experiences both personally and professionally. Often times it feels like my whole world is upside down. But sometimes though life is way more fun and fantastic upside down than right side up.



So, all of this trip down memory lane for one brief takeaway—things change. Things evolve. YOU change. YOU evolve. Don’t ever feel stuck in your training or in your life.


I’m excited to see where the next 35 years take me.

Meal of the Week – Ryan’s Breakfast

I love breakfast, in all forms, for any meal of the day. I love pancakes, waffles, and French toast. Unfortunately I don’t eat those foods every day. I know that there are healthy ways to make these meals, and if you have a solid recipe send it my way but for now every morning I eat four eggs with spinach mixed in and a delicious bowl of fruit.

This morning I had my 4 eggs with spinach, of course, and the chosen fruit for today was mangos. I love eggs and I know a lot of people stay clear of them. I can understand the fear of them since cholesterol is considered all evil. If you do have high cholesterol it’s a good idea to limit them. But there has been a lot of evidence to show that a diet in substantial amount of fiber clears that the excess cholesterol. Fiber actual bind’s to the excess cholesterol in your gut. Not only should the cholesterol be too much of a worry but the yolk of an egg comes with very important fat soluble vitamins, along with my favorite vitamin, Vitamin D. If you love eggs and concerned about your cholesterol I would highly recommend looking up Dr. Eric Serrano and John Meadows. These gentlemen give a lot of advice and science away for free about the benefits of fats.

Now for the fruit, which is hands down my favorite part. My main favorites in the morning are blueberries or mangos. Blueberries and mangos have a fair amount of fiber which is perfect alongside my eggs. Blueberries hold an abundant amount of antioxidants and mangos are a stock pile of vitamin C. If you have the golden ticket, which I call a Costco card, then you have the opportunity to buy huge bags of organic frozen fruit. Everyone has their preference on how they eat their fruit. A fan favorite is in a smoothie but I like it a little different. I actual microwave my fruit (only frozen of course). This might sound gross but if you like pie at all then you might enjoy it too.

And lastly, the spinach is my attempt at forcing myself to eat some sort of dark green leaf twice a day. Mixing spinach in my eggs makes it extremely easy to consume. I have talked about spinach before because I believe it to be one of the best vegetables to eat. It holds Iron, Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium. Everything that most people in the modern day are lacking in their diet.

I am curious to know who microwaves their frozen fruit, so if you see me walking around the gym and you have tried it, let me know!

Ryan’s April Training Log

These past two weeks have been a treasure when it comes to my bench. Bench, as of right now, is the only lift that I can actually push. So I am diving in head first. If you have read my past training logs, you’ll see that I have tried something very different.

My bench program used to be set up with Tuesday being some sort of rep work or touching heavy weight and my Friday consisted of speed work. While this worked for a while, I have recently felt that I had become stagnant. It was time to mix things up and try something new.

My bench program still has a rep work day on Tuesday but it consists of much more volume and my Fridays are specifically for my weak points. Having a day dedicated only to weak points has brought my bench up faster than I expected. When I last saw my physical therapist we discovered how weak my middle traps are. He recommended more rowing to help build this area. This area creates stabilization during the bench.

This switch has produced two personal records for me.

One day resulting with 260 3 sets x5 reps
And last week giving me 285 2×3

In the next month I will trying to hit some higher weights to really see what the switch has produced.

I would recommend everyone add some sort of rowing every week. Most people need to develop their lower/mid traps. This being said, on your bench day or upper day try some barbell rowing, TRX rowing, cable rowing, or my personal favorite, inverted rows.

Brian Pang Interview

I noticed Brian, one of our yoga instructors, was looking slim and trim this spring. So I pressed him- tell me about! Brian lost 30lbs by getting to a doctor to deal with his sleep apnea, committing to one class at UF per week, and being consistent in showing up! It sounds easy, right? Watch the video or check out the highlights below to see Brian’s insight on how he was able to achieve this weight loss goal for himself.

(0:47) My main motivation was to be healthier. I’m not getting any younger and I’m at a stage in my life where I needed to do more than I was doing in terms of physical activity and really needed to start to pay attention to my diet. My sleep apnea diagnosis was the big push for me to become more active.

(3:00) I started with one class a week and just worked up from there. Cardio Lab was the first class I took.

(4:30) Dating back to last year I’ve lost 30lbs. And there is no quick fix, it took small steps.

(6:00) I’m trying to get into the mindset that this is a lifestyle- something that doesn’t end. And I want to remain active throughout.

(7:30) Casey- In my first yoga class, I didn’t know where the ‘front’ of the room was. Brian- so don’t be afraid to ask questions!

(8:30) (Hesitantly) Alison’s class is the one I have to get mentally prepared for.

(9:40) Casey- To sum up how you did it (losing 30lbs), you got a CPAP, you took a small step and committed to one class a week, and you consistently showed up to do it.

Meal of the Week- Alexa’s Chili

Alexa’s Meal of the Week

Turkey Chili…I know what you are thinking- I am a tad crazy because Chili is a warm, comforting, cold weather food. But, it’s one of my favorite meals, its full of nutrient dense ingredients, and it satisfies the heck out of me. My mom always says “it’s a hit” every time I make it for our family…Maybe she is just filling my heart up with confidence and joy, but I kind of believe her.


Anyhow, here it is. Try it. It will last you for most of the week and you won’t have to put much thought into meal prepping. What a win!


  • 1.5-2 packages of lean ground turkey
  • 3 cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • ½ Tbsp. of tomato paste
  • lots of minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 2 cans of butter beans
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • Tons of spinach
  • Tons of kale

First: Pour olive oil in a large sauce pot. Throw in minced garlic, tomato paste and some black pepper. Stir to coat bottom and let garlic simmer for about 2 minutes.


Second: Throw in turkey, cover with lid and let cook.


Third: Put all remaining ingredients in pot- diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, spinach, and kale. The spinach and kale will cook down quickly, don’t hold back.


Fourth: Spices- sea salt, chili powder, turmeric, pepper, oregano, and basil. Trust me. Let this all cook on low for about 45 minutes-1 hour.

Training plateaus

By Ryan McUmber

During our journey towards fitness goals, we will hit some walls along the way. Common plateaus could include struggling to shed those last couple of pounds or falling short on a strength goal. As natural as hitting a plateau can be, they are always frustrating. Now is the time to take a deep breath and a step back, then look at what factors may be limiting you to reach your goal. I have 4 main factors that I will look over when my progress has stalled. These factors are hydration, sleep, nutrition, and training. I’ll break each of these down to subgroups to further explain.


Water is essential. As corny as that sounds it will always be true. With something so simple, it is often the first thing that is overlooked. Everyone (should) know that they must be well hydrated but most people usually fall short in drinking enough. Water is the ultimate detox drink and keeps your body from falling apart. With the lack of water being my number one concern there is another common mistake when it comes to drinking water. People tend not drink any water during the day and then having a drinking contest at night. Maybe this sounds familiar- you woke up, had two or three cups of coffee, then maybe a glass of water with lunch (or worse, soda), then another couple of cups of coffee to make it through the afternoon, and before you know it it’s 5-6-7pm and you’re playing catch up with water. (And you wonder what keeps you up at night). At this point you decide that you are going to consume 8 glasses of water in the next 2-4 hours before bed. After about glass four you going to the bathroom every 20 minutes and the color of your urine matches the water you just drank. You are not a camel; you cannot store the water. So try to avoid the late night binging of water and keep a constant flow in your system throughout the day- like starting your day off with a big glass of water.


If you have ever had me as a personal trainer, then I have asked you “how is your sleep?” an annoying amount of times. Sleep is ideal for brain function, building motor patterns, aerobic performance, and hormone balance. If you have any goal at all, even it is not fitness related, you must get optimal sleep. Now I am sure that you have heard that you must get 8 hours of sleep. As obnoxious as it is, 8 hours is a solid rule to go by for most people. Something that always gets overlooks is the quality of one’s sleep.

The quality of sleep is by all measure more important than the amount of sleep. When I am referring to quality, things like tossing and turning, snoring, dogs, kids, bathroom breaks- all interrupting your REM sleep. There are different stages of sleep, in which all of them are very important. Each stage has an important function in regards to hormone production or neurological function. I am not a doctor but you if snore, I highly recommend getting a sleep study test. I have heard from countless people how their health improved. From waking up and feeling energized, to not needing to drink coffee anymore and one the greatest ones being blood pressure dropping to a healthy level. If you snore, call your local doctor to get a sleep study.

If you toss and turn there are multiple factors that could contribute to this. The first thing I would look into would be what temperature your room is at night. I try to have mine around 65 degrees, if it’s too hot I am sweating and flipping my pillow constantly so I can get the cool side on my face.

I would also look into your Vitamin D levels or consider vitamin D supplementation. When vitamin d levels are low, studies have shown a correlation between poor sleep or restless sleep. Dr. Stasha Gominak has done extensive work on sleep with some free videos online discussing vitamin D levels and sleep. Vitamin D supplements are very cheap but always consult your doctor before taking any supplement.


I am not going to be discussing calories here. I want to discuss nutrients. Probably the most common goal we see are members wanting to lose “x” pounds, which is a great goal if this is something that will improve your health. Now with this goal in mind people immediately drop the calories and start running on the treadmill like they are training for marathon that’s happening next month. I get excited when people are motivated but drastic drops or extreme changes are not ideal, especially with food. Food should be considered fuel for your body while providing much needed nutrients at the cellular level. With that being said when you drop your calories so quickly, like someone jumping off a cliff, usually the first thing to suffer is your nutrient intake. Take a moment to think about what a caloric deficit is…now how do you expect your body to reach any sort of goal if it’s not getting the baseline ingredients it needs to be healthy. This is like asking a car to drive 100 mph with a flat and an empty tank. It just won’t happen. When performing any goal make sure you are getting enough fuel and nutrient dense foods to help you.


Intensity is what some see as the most important factor in the fitness industry- maybe because it’s inspirational or it sells. Spend 2 minutes on Instagram or YouTube and you will see enough workout hype videos that involve people yelling and screaming at each other to get through their training sessions. Maybe this is fun to watch when you have a hard workout ahead of you but it’s not the most important factor. Consistency trumps all.

Look at two types of people. “Richard” decides he’s going to commit to the gym after a whole year of putting it off. So he dives in day one and goes hard for two hours, posts a video to his Instagram with #savage underneath, goes home and forgets to eat dinner and stays up until 2am watching TV. Congrats Richard- you got ten likes and you’re headed down the road to Burnout Town. What’s the likelihood that Richard will be back in the gym the next day? Or what if he does and gets injured because he’s not taking any time to recover? His effort is great, but his lack of consistency will make his road tough and unpredictable, likely leading to a plateau or worse, injury.

“Stan” takes a different approach. Stan is in the gym 4-5 times a week, always makes sure that he is getting eight hours of sleep, eating nutritious food, and drinking enough water to be fully recovered. Which is great because Stan can come to my classes more, hang out with me, and chip away at his fitness goals everyday. Here’s an example of the overall accumulation of work for Stan vs Richard. Because of Stan’s sustainable, consistent approach, he’s able to get to the gym 16-20 times per month. While Richard, if he’s lucky, will feel “good enough” to get to the gym 8-12 times per month. Moral of the story- don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you stay consistent, the amount of work will build up and show results.

Blending it all:

Being attentive to these four basic factors can help with any goal that you have in mind. When I feel stuck, I write these pieces down and look back to the past few weeks to honestly assess if and where I’m falling short. Once I’m able to pinpoint the issue, I fix it.
One last thing that you should always consider when hitting a training plateau- am I being realistic with my goal or my timeline for my goal? As powerful as this simple approach can be, getting to 10% body fat in six weeks or adding 50lbs to your bench press this month can be unfair to expect from yourself- and quite unrealistic, really. So when deciding your goal you need to be brutally honest with yourself. If you set an unrealistic goal and fall short you will get so discouraged that you may not reach any of your goals. Now set a realistic goal-aim at a target you can SEE and REACH, keep track of your four factors, and see what you can accomplish.