Category Archives: Uncategorized

Recovery Methods.

I was at a national conference a few years back and had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Duffin. If you do not know who Chris is, he is to say the least, interesting. A good friend of mine Dave Terry (at the time strength coach at Georgetown), saw Chris and said, “Hamer, do you know Chris.” I said we had met a handful of times. He said we need to go talk to him. So we strolled over to his booth. Chris was welcoming,  friendly, and full of good information. One thing that he said that will stick with me is, and I paraphrase, there are two things you can do for recovery. First you can do something to yourself, second is you can have something done to you. This sat in my mind for years and I have added one thought to this, I’d like to share with you my opinion today.


I agree with Chris that you can do something, or have something done to you, I also know that the one other thing you can to for recovery is sleep. Today, I will break each of these down for you and hopefully this will help you recover better, and be healthier and stronger.


Do something to yourself.


If you wish to aid in your recovery, you will find at times that you must move. A good rule of thumb on recovery is to do a movement with little or no eccentric load. A few examples of this are dragging the sled, throwing a med ball, cycling, or running up stairs. Remember that most muscle damage occurs on the eccentric portion of a lift, so the more we can decrease our eccentric load the better off we will be. Also, a little extra conditioning never hurt anyone. Here are a few examples of things I have done.

  1. Grab a med ball and keep it moving for 20 minutes. Just throw it, let it hit the ground and throw it again.
  2. Drag a light sled for 20 minutes non stop.
  3. Walk or push a turned off treadmill. I began doing this one over a decade ago and haven’t used a turned on treadmill since then.
  4. Get outside and take a hike. Do not underestimate the importance of a mindset to recovery. Stress is relative to how one perceives it. So sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) will be more active when we are creating stress and we want to avoid this in recovery work. Create a more parasympathetic response by relaxing and taking hike.


Having something done to you.


This is something that is much harder to do for recovery. The first issue is that you must have someone willing to help you, or pay a professional. The upside to this type of recovery is that you can just sit back and enjoy the moment. Here are a few things you can have done to you for recovery.


  1. Stretch. There is no need to pay for this service, just have a friend, partner, or training partner stretch you.
  2. Soft tissue work. This can be done with a lacrosse ball, steel tube, or even someones hands.
  3. Get a massage. Call Malik or Sarah for this.




Sleep is currently the bees knees in the fitness industry. I remember a story about Arnold and sleep. Someone asked Arnold how he could accomplish so much, his response was, you only have 18 hours a day so don’t waste time. The person said 18 hours? Arnold said yes sleep for 6. The person responded, don’t we need more sleep. Arnold said, sleep faster.


As we all know sleeping faster is not possible. But, getting better quality sleep is possible. So let me review some basic things we should all do to get better sleep. Yet, none of these should be set in stone as we are all unique and none should be followed 100% of the time.


  1. Turn your phone off. I won’t go into the whole blue light stuff. Just put away the most powerful computer you own.
  2. Cut back on caffeine.
  3. Don’t abuse alcohol.
  4. Breathe and meditate.
  5. Do active things during the day, so that you are tired at night.



There it is, Hamer’s take on recovery.


The Reps That I Have Done, The Books I Have Read

I have been lifting consistently for over 2 decades. I have also been a vocracious reader throughout that time. In an active year I have achieved 200 training sessions and read 50 books. I am now closing in on having read 1,000 books throughout my lifetime. The process of finding this number was not easy, I had to go back to my childhood. As for training I have no idea how many sessions I’ve had, what I do know is that I have been under the bar often. Of all the books I’ve read and all the training sessions I have been involved in I have forgotten most of them. Some reps and some words books have stuck with me, yet most are gone. Today I am going to take a trip down memory lane for some reps I recall, and some words I recall. I take all credit for when my memory fails me.


  1. First rep I will never forget is 2001, training with Jim Roney (then strength coach at University of Richmond). We were learning about bands, chains, and boards. We would read Louie Simmons articles then go experiment. The gym was a basement in the infamous Franklin St gym. The building was Virginia Commonwealth University’s original gym building, and it looked like an original gym building. It was dirty and I loved it. Now to the training, we were doing heavy board presses and decided to add bands. I can’t recall the weight, yet when I unracked it I remember one emotion, fear. I honestly don’t even recall if I got the rep or missed it. What I recall and learned is that fear is an amazing motivator. The first lesson here is fear is OK, and can be great when used sparingly.
  2. The first words from a book that I will never forget are,“To do that would mean, not merely to be defeated, but to acknowledge defeat- and the difference between these two things is what keeps the world going.” (Upton Sinclair, The Jungle). I read The Jungle while on the beach one Christmas in St Simon’s Island Georgia. This is one of the books that haunted me. Sinclair’s writing style is amazing and how he can paint the picture of an immigrant family is top notch. This quote says so much about humanities struggle against any challenge we may face.

  3. Rep #2 that I will touch on here is a rep that I missed. This was probably around 2003. My goal was to squat 500 for the first time in my life at 165 lbs weight class. I opened at 430 lbs, then went 465 for my second attempt. After this rep I was not confident, I was going to go to 490. Jim Wendler came over to the table and asked what my next attempt was, I said 490. He replied with, “What did you come here to do?” I said 500. He said, “Then go to 500, it won’t kill you.” Jim has always had a way with words. 500 did not kill me, yet I did miss, and I also came back and got it at my next meet. Again, this taught me to put my chips on the table, I also know many young lifters wouldn’t agree with this approach, but that is the beauty of life.
  4. Francis Slakey provides the quote from our next book,“If you get to the end of your life and you have regrets that you could have done better, then you blew it.” Francis Slakey, To The Last Breath. I read this book about a decade ago. This book reminded that life is about the journey. I was lucky enough to share a few emails with Mr Slakey, and he truly lives through the growth that he had shown in this book. 
  5. The next rep I am going to write about shows how great the powerlifting community truly can be. I am going to guess that the year was probably 2004 or 2005. I was competing in Charleston, West Virginia. I don’t recall all my lifts, yet squat and bench went well (if my memory serves me). I moved to dead, I was opening at 505, I had pulled this many times. well, after a long day of lifting the first rep felt like a ton. I missed my first pull, then I went on to miss my second as well. I was preparing for my final attempt when some guy I never met said, “Hey man how’s the lifting going?” I said, I missed my first two deads. He looked at me and said, “Who do you think you are? You are not Ed Coan, you are not good enough to bomb out on deadlifts.” He then followed me around until my attempt all while screaming, the bar has 135 on it and you will lift 135. I have edited some of his words for the masses. I went and pulled my final attempt and he immediately took me to the hotel bar for a whiskey. To this day I have no clue who the guy is or why he cared so much for my lifts. This shows that we are one team and a rising tide lifts all boats.
  6. My final book thought is from one of my favorite authors.“He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.”  Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food. Few humans have written about how food and culture come together as much as Micheal Pollan. I have been lucky enough to share a few meals with Micheal Pollan, and he is one of the wisest people I ever met. This quote reminds me of my good friend (and UF member) Ward. Ward really understands having a healthy relationship with food important for a lifetime of health. 


There it is a few memories that hopefully have change your perspective.

Alzheimer’s Association Fundraiser for the Chicago Marathon

Hey Union Fitness!


For those of you who do not know me, my name is Katie Jones. I coach Cardio Lab and Run Club here at Union 🙂 


This October I have the opportunity to run the Chicago Marathon. This marathon means a lot to me. This will be my 10th marathon!! I have been training and running marathons since 2014. I have completed the Pittsburgh Marathon 6 times and the Philadelphia Marathon 3 times. I am so excited to be running my 10th in Chicago!


More importantly, I am running this race for the Alzheimer’s Association. Back in 2014, I was volunteering at a nursing home next to my college. Many of the residents I worked with had early onset Alzheimers. During my time volunteering, I saw the direct impact of this disease and I wanted to do something. When I signed up for my first marathon in Pittsburgh, I joined the ALZ Stars Team. I am very fortunate to be running my 10th marathon for them! Training for a marathon is a huge commitment, but I am proud to be running for an organization that is making our miles matter with the goal of ending Alzheimer’s.


Please support my efforts by making a donation or sharing my fundraising page (link below). All funds raised benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and its work to enhance care and support programs and advance research toward methods of treatment, prevention, and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Thank you for your support and for joining the fight against Alzheimer’s disease!

Here is the link to my fundraising page:



June’s Member Spotlight

Hello, I’m Lisa! I was born Congolese (from DRC), I speak French, lived in Belgium, and then I grew up and got my master’s degree as an Industrial Engineer in electronics. I lived in Belgium until the end of 2016.


Then, I got bored and went to work in Spain for 2.5 years. That’s where my fitness journey started, with CrossFit. I discovered that working out was not only great for losing weight, but was also very useful to get strong, and that quickly became my goal (that satisfaction when I lift heavy is gold to me).


In the summer of 2019, I arrived in Pittsburgh for a new project. I stuck to CrossFit for 1.5 years but being strong and lifting heavy became more important to me than being fast and good at gymnastics, so one of my coaches recommended me to check out Union Fitness, which I did at the end of 2020. Starting with the Powerful classes, and then following up with a programming tailored for me by the great Curtis Miller! His knowledge and patience have been helping me to get stronger physically and mentally every week.


Fun facts about me?


  1. I’m a sneaker addict, and not even trying to heal from it.
  2. I see music in color which is somehow helpful when I have to play keys.
  3. I speak different languages, which is cool at first, but makes me invent words that exist in none of them
  4. I always have a loooooot of questions in my brain


I’m really grateful to be part of the Union fitness community, it’s definitely a place that feels good to be fully yourself, and around people (staff and members) that push themselves and you to be better!


À bientôt !! ”




Member Spotlight, Matt Wylie

I grew up in a small town called Chippewa which is very close to Beaver Falls, PA. I graduated from Edinboro University and after living in the Strip District and Bellevue, I now reside in Mt Washington with my fiancé, 6 year old son, and a miniature dachshund named Finn. Since graduating college in 2011, I’ve been an active musician for a little over a decade. I’ve played guitar in a lot of original bands and have done just about every genre of cover band that you can think of from 80s, 90s, nu metal (a gig’s a gig, right?), and everything in between.


My professional background is in sales and I work as an Account Executive for a SaaS company based out of Boston, MA where we offer financial planning & analysis automation solutions. I get to work remote 100% of the time and haven’t met an actual coworker in about 3 years.


Union Fitness has become my home away from home since I began my fitness journey. I started in February of 2021 and didn’t have a clear goal in mind but I knew that I wanted to get into great shape and make positive lifestyle changes.  I am the type of person that needs to be learning something and to have the ability to apply it in order to stay motived. With the help of my old buddy CeJ (T-luv, Tito, Uncle Tito, etc) he introduced me to the #powerful classes and the other fantastic trainers here at UF. I hadn’t even looked at a weight in about a decade and I had never done a squat or deadlift a day in my life prior to this so we truly started from the bottom. The #powerful classes created a positive environment for me to be able to learn how to lift properly and the workouts created by the instructors will get anybody going towards where they want to be. The results I’ve seen in the gym have been great, but the results outside the gym have been massive in my personal and professional life.


Fun facts:


  1. A self proclaimed beer connoisseur (this is why we’re here).
  2. Learned to play guitar by taking formal jazz lessons and by learning songs from my favorite metal bands.
  3. Played hockey from childhood to end of high school.
  4. I like all foods and I like to cook a lot at home – avid griller.


Thank you to T(CeJ), Curtis, Dave Jackson, Dahveed, Todd, and all of the other great people at UF!



Meet the Interns, Elias Dimitrakopoulos

My name is Elias Dimitrakopoulos, and I am from Harrisburg, PA. This past year I completed my Bachelor’s in Exercise Science at the University of Pittsburgh, and currently I am completing my Master’s in Clinical Exercise Science at the University of Pittsburgh as well. Along with my master’s program I am working as a Graduate Student Assistant where I teach classes and work as a personal trainer at the University’s fitness club. My future goals are to continue to expand my knowledge as an exercise professional and work as an exercise physiologist or in a performance-based setting.


Other things you should know about me are that I love lifting and pushing myself to get better. Usually in the gym you will see me performing a hybrid style workout geared toward powerlifting and bodybuilding as I love improving my strength as well as performing volume and hypertrophy style training. My favorite clothing brands are Inaka Power and Get Better Today so you will probably see me wearing them a lot. In terms of other hobbies, I like sports, anime, going on walks, food, and just overall doing things that I enjoy and push me to get better as an individual. My favorite sports teams are the New York Giants, New York Knicks, and New York Yankees. Some of my favorite athletes are LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes, and Giannis Antetokounmpo (as he is Greek). I do take pride in being Greek (as my family is from Greece) and always root for Greek athletes and sports teams as well. My favorite anime is probably Naruto because I love the story, his hard work ethic, and it was the first anime I watched. Currently, I am watching One Piece, Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, and have also seen quite a few others.


I chose Union Fitness as my internship site for this summer as I love the atmosphere and believe I will be able to learn a lot from the trainers here. I want to expand my exercise knowledge and add new styles of training and workouts to what I already know. I believe I always have something to learn regardless of how much I have done, so I know I will gain a lot from Union Fitness. Finally, I believe my purpose and goal is to help others achieve the best versions of themselves, and I truly believe exercise is something everyone can benefit from, and I want to show others that health and wellness are a way of life and everyone has the opportunity to get better every day.

New Staff Spotlight, Amelia Bogovich

Hi! My name is Amelia Bogovich and I’m from Pittsburgh, PA. I’m currently a college volleyball athlete at Chatham University. I’ve been playing volleyball since I was 10 years old. I used to tag along with my parents to the gym when I was younger, which got me into lifting along with my club volleyball career. I began taking fitness seriously during my summer going into college to become a better athlete. My fitness journey has given me knowledge and better mental health. After attending school and playing volleyball in Ohio, I decided to transfer to Chatham University to be closer to home, and to have more opportunities to reach my academic and lifestyle goals!


Some facts about me are: I’m a SUPER picky eater, deadlifts are my favorite lift, and I recently started a fitness page on Instagram to meet others and track my progress ( I’m an exercise science major and still unsure of what I want to do, but I hope to keep creating content and helping others.


I chose to work at Union because of the family culture and being able to surround myself with others who strive for a healthy lifestyle. I’m excited to learn more and grow closer to my goals on this journey!

New Staff Spotlight, Jan Rodriguez

Hello, my name is Jan Rodriguez. I am a native from Puerto Rico, and I have been playing baseball since I was 3 years old. Throughout my career, I have traveled to different countries, played in lots of tournaments, participated in championships, MLB organization showcases, and met important people who helped me to be where I am right now. Thanks to hard work, I got the opportunity to play college baseball and study in Ohio. After a year, I decided to transfer here to Point Park University in order to continue my studies and play baseball while also looking to keep growing in life and be successful.


Some fun facts about me are: my favorite food is Paella (the best protein), my favorite vacation spot is Icacos Island (a little island at the east coast of Puerto Rico and is extremely beautiful – I would definitely recommend anyone who sees this to visit it), I enjoy walking/going scuba diving/relaxing on the boat while I’m there. My college major is video production, so hopefully whenever I’m done with college I will follow within that career path (maybe I will use this skill for future content for UF, who knows…)


I joined Union Fitness because besides having a passion for a healthy lifestyle and bodybuilding, I knew it was the correct environment to keep accomplishing my goals. I am really excited about joining this family and starting this journey with all of you guys! Looking forward to helping every single one of you.



Set Some Goals, Reach Some Goals, and Fail

Back in January I decided to set some goals for myself. It is now April, the year is 1/3 over and I am no where near reaching my goals. This could easily be seen as a bad thing, yet I could not be happier at how this year has turned out. The goals I set assumed that life would not happen and stand in the way of me reaching my goals.




January stared strong and I was feeling good. Then I had my first injury in years. When i say injury, I mean can’t train injury. I have had run of the mill bumps and bruises. This was the first time in about 5 years that I was in bad enough shape that I had to change everything that I was doing. The beauty with this injury was that I was able to look at what I was doing, look at my goals, and decide where I needed to go from there. I am very lucky to have people much smarter than I am to bounce ideas off of as well. 


As I look back at this injury it was the best thing to happen to my training in years. I have not competed in years and needed a new focus. This led me to being able to work on movements and weaknesses that I have not addressed in years. 


As for my goals?


I reached none of my January goals. Well, I did reach my reading goal, yet that was never really in question. As far as movement goals, I was not even close to any of them. My question for you is, do you think I would have been better if I had reached my goals and not be injured? I know what my thoughts on this are. 


I have never been a person who says, everything happens for a reason. I have twisted this saying to my own view, I believe, wise people learn lessons when things happen. The world and all of its happenings can be random and if we try hard enough then we will learn lessons from all these happenings. 

We can do it all this week if we

Now go out, set some goals, fail, learn, growth , and set some new goals. Fail better and maybe one day you will reach those goals. Whether you reach your goals or you don’t does not matter as the journey is really what matters and you’ll remember the struggles more then the goals. 

Northside’s Strongest Bench Press & Deadlift

We are coming up on two weeks out from the North Side’s Strongest bench press & deadlift push/pull competition on Sunday April 3rd. We currently have 28 people signed up, and will be capping the sign ups at 45 spots. So be sure to fill out that registration form on our website before it is sold out. As previously mentioned, the fee for competitors will be $20 for Union Fitness members and $30 for non members, with no charge for spectators.


Weigh ins will be held from 8:30-9:15am, followed by a quick rules meeting at 9:30am with warmups to follow, and lifting will begin at 10am. For weigh-ins, we will be meeting in the cardio lab of the gym. Weight classes will be based off of standard powerlifting weight classes and are as follows: 


Women: 97 lbs., 123 lbs., 132 lbs., 148 lbs., 165 lbs., 181 lbs., 198 lbs. and anyone over 198 lbs. lifts in the unlimited category.

Men: 114 lbs., 123 lbs., 132 lbs., 148 lbs., 165 lbs., 181 lbs., 198 lbs., 220 lbs., 242 lbs., 275 lbs., 308 lbs. and unlimited class.

In order to make a weight class, you must be at or under the weight class you sign up for. If you are over, then you will be placed in the next weight class up. After you weigh in, you will tell the staff member what your opening attempts will be for your bench press and deadlift. As I’ve mentioned before, a good opening attempt is something that you feel you could do for around 3 repetitions to competition standards, but it’s always good to be on the conservative side if you are unsure. Once we receive everyone’s weigh-ins, we will organize everyone into groups known as “flights”. This will dictate when you will begin warming up for each lift. While the first flight is competing, the second flight will be warming up in the warmup area. The first flight will go through all of their attempts, and then the next flight will begin.


Each lifter will get three attempts for each lift. An opening attempt, a second attempt, and a third attempt. After the first attempt, each lifter will go to the designated score table and submit their second attempt, and the lifts will cycle through the rest of the flight before coming back to them for their second. If the first attempt was successful, then the lifter will go up for their second. If the lift was unsuccessful, then the lifter must either stay at the same weight, or still go up, but cannot go down. Keep in mind, a lifter must complete a successful attempt for the bench press event in order to continue onto the deadlift event. So choose wisely.


As for the rules of the competition, there are specific commands that you will need to follow in order to have a successful lift. For the bench press, you will unrack the bar and wait for the judge to give you the “start” command. Once they do, you will lower the bar and touch your chest, pause it until it becomes motionless, and then the judge will give you the “press” command. Once you lock out the weight, you will hold it under control until the judge gives you the “rack” command. During that time, you must keep your glutes on the bench. If these are successfully done, then the result will be a “good lift”.


For the deadlift, there is only one command. You will walk up to the bar, and when you’re ready you will lift the weight and stand with it locked out. This means legs straight, hips into the bar, and chest tall. Once you are completely locked out, the judge will give you the “down” command. During that time you will lower the bar to the floor under control, and if all steps are done correctly, you will receive a “good lift”. As far as equipment goes, a lifting singlet WILL NOT be required. No lifting gloves are allowed, along with lifting straps. Footwear is completely up to the lifter. Chalk will be provided, but you can bring your own if you would like. As always, do not hesitate to let us know if you have any questions at all. We look forward to seeing you all enjoy yourselves. 


– Curtis Miller