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3 Spice Level 11 Full-body Exercises You Need To Add

Variety is the spice of life and you know in CeJ’s kitchen we kick the heat up to 11.

There are many great classic exercises that are a staple in my training routine but sometimes you have to get creative and lean on unique exercises to drive Adaptations and keep training exciting. Recently I have been messing around with some unique exercises that I have been having a lot of fun with. Hold onto your butts and check out these three spice level 11 exercises.
1) Cable Lateral Lunge to Rotation. This exercise will heat you up. Start by grabbing the single handle attachment for the cable. Once you grab the handle attachment you’ll start the exercise by taking a lateral lunge step away from the cable stack. From that start you’ll use your hips and Abs/trunk to rotate away from the cable stack. Violently pressing your arms away from the cable stack you’ll almost think of this motion as a swing of the bat in sports or that you’re a badass samurai. Whichever one fits your vibe for the day. I enjoy this exercise because it’s a full body motion that requires power and strength from my lower body all the way through my upper body. Also this is a great exercise to challenge your abs during both the concentric and eccentric portions of the movement.
2) High Handle Prowler Push Press. Talk about a full body highly functional exercise that will put fear in the hearts of gym bros and have real ones now their heads in respect. This one is pretty simple, load a prowler with a lighter load to start. You’ll grab the high handles of the prowler with your hands while you wedge your body in about a 45 degree angle and dig your feet into the floor. From that position vision that it’s 4th and inches on the goal line and your team needs to score or that you are a power frog. Boom! Powerfully drive your legs through the floor as you transition power into your hips and send the prowler gliding across the turf with a powerful press from your upper body. Take this down the turf as quickly as you can.
3) The Turkish Get-Up. This exercise could be the ruler of all functional exercises. Navigating your body from a laying position on the floor to a tall standing position with a weight above your noodle, I mean what more could you ask for. To see an unbelievably excellent example of how to do this exercise, I recommend looking up my last blog and video on Get-Ups.
If you’re already doing these frighteningly spicy exercises then I commend you. If you aren’t yet getting down with these 3 beauties then I’d gladly show you how to do them and add them into your exercise program.
Stay spicy my friends

Happy Veterans Day

With Veterans Day coming up I thought it would be a good time to share some of my experiences in the Navy. A lot of people at UF ask me about my experience in the Navy and where I have been in the world. However, I don’t always remember exactly everything I have done so I wanted to take the time to list all the countries I have visited during my service and rank them based on how much fun I had while visiting! 


  1. Manila, Philippines. This one was my favorite simply because I saw Nelly the rapper at 2am in a VIP club section inside a casino. Along with that I enjoyed trying to speak the native language of Tagalog and the food there was delicious. Adobo and Lumpia are my favorites!
  2. This place was one of the cleanest places I have ever seen in my entire life. I got to visit the infamous Marina Bay Sands and see the outlook over the city with the infinity pool.  
  3. South Korea. I enjoyed South Korea because I got to have authentic Korean BBQ and I got some of my favorite jerseys of sports icons for very cheap!
  4. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I enjoyed Brazil because of how tropical it was. Along with that, I got to see the culture of soccer or futbol. It was really cool seeing so many young children playing soccer all over the place!
  5. Although Vietnam is a communist country it was very beautiful and the people there were extremely nice. We had a taxi driver that showed us around and also gave us a historical perspective on the Vietnam war. He showed us where the United States had its own base and more.
  6. Valparaiso, Chile. This was probably the poorest country I visited. I really got to witness what a 3rd world country looked like and it made me appreciate what we have in the United States. I also enjoyed this port because although I was underage our commanding officer allowed all sailors to abide by Chiles drinking laws. Thus meaning I was allowed to buy whatever alcohol I wanted when I was 18. I do not really remember a whole lot after the drinking started but I do remember it was a good time!
  7. I was unsure if I should put Hawaii on this list or not because it is a state and not a country. However, the reason it is this low is because of that reason. Hawaii was very touristy but was still very beautiful. The hikes I did while we were there were some of the best hiking I have ever done!
  8. Guam is a territory that was also poor. Funny story, when I visited here, I did not have a phone while I was there because I broke it on the first day of my deployment. So, I had to use an iPod to take all my pictures and communicate with my family back home. This was extra difficult because the Wi-Fi in Guam at the time was very poor. None the less, Guam is also very pretty, and I got the worst sunburn of my life there. I thought it would be a good idea to not wear sunscreen after working night shift for weeks and not seeing the sun. I learned the hard way to always wear sunscreen when you are that close to the equator!
  9. I forget the exact city that we visited in Peru, but it was my very first port that I got to see. One memory that sticks out in my mind is clubbing with some of my friends there!
  10. Okinawa, Japan. The reason Japan is so low on this list was because I only spent one night there. And during that one-night span I got food poisoning and broke my phone for the second time. So, I didn’t really get the full experience with this one!


So, there it is! A list of every single country I went to during my time in the Navy. This ranking was purely based off my own experience and if I had more time or freedom then it could have been a lot different. Lastly, I wanted to take the time to say Happy Veterans Day to every single veteran and those who are currently serving. With everything that is going on in the world today I am especially thankful for these men and women. It is a scary time to be in the military and let’s hope that peace can remain with the United States but also peace can be made in other countries that are currently at war! 




I was in grad school at Virginia Commonwealth University, we had a guest lecturer. This was how Sept 11th 2001 started for me. Truth be told my day started at 6 AM with a team lift in a basement gym that I worked in. After a few groups I went to my grad class, sport law was the name of the class. That Tuesday we had a guest lecturer. He began his presentation, only a few minutes into his lecture our professor came in and said, “Everyone call your family, we are under attack.” I will never forget this moment. For anyone who is old enough to remember where they were on 9/11 they will never forget this moment. It is etched in my head with a few other moments.


Today as we remember 9/11 I am asking you to think about moments that changed you. Now ask yourself some questions, what can I do to help improve myself and those around me? If today was my last day on earth would I be content with how I had spent my time? What impact am I making today? I ask these questions today and everyday, as we don’t know what the future holds for us and our loved ones.


Share some love today.





Cheers to Our Employees

The adage is true, “Days are long and years are short” (Gretchen Rubin). As I age I try to remember to take moments and be thankful for everyone and everything around me. With that in mind today I want to introduce you to a few friends of mine (that you may already know). This is my chance to thank some of the people that keep UF running, and me from working too hard :-).


First up is CeJ, also known as CJ or Charles Edward Jasper. What you may not know is that CJ and I have worked together too many times to count. He began interning with us when I was director of strength and conditioning at Robert Morris. He spent years bouncing around as a strength coach with stops at The Ohio State University, The Mets, Morehead State, Youngstown State, as well as a return trip to RMU with yours truly.


One thing I can say separates CJ is how he thinks. My running joke is CJ always thinks outside the box, so much so that sometimes I have to pull him back into the box. Due to how he thinks, and works, he always has an idea. Most of the summer events we run are his idea, he also handles all programming for our most popular class (powerful). In addition there is an added bonus with CJ, we also get one Skylyn to hang around the gym and be a positive force.


CJ I am thankful for your friendship and the chance to work with you. CJ is a friend and a co-worker for that I am grateful.


Next up is Toria Crispin! Tordawg is a two time MVP employee of the U! Toria came to us while working full time at Pitt. She was living in Parkview and wanted to pick up a part time job. Curtis hired her she brought her awesome self here from day 1. She worked here while holding down her full time job, and was awesome stepping up during the Covid time period.


She did leave us to take a job at University of Colorado at Denver. When a position opened up she was my first call. I knew she would not only be a great fit for us, but that we would also be a great fit for her. After some arm twisting I convinced her to come back and join us at the U. I can honestly say she keeps me on point most days. Without her at work we would probably or definitely mess up more things than I already do daily.


I am thankful for Toria’s friendship and that she is here with us at the U. When you see her pat her on the shoulder (make sure it’s her good shoulder) and thank her for all she does for us.


Finally, the new guy, Zain. Zain had some big shoes to fill, he took over after Curtis moved on from the U. If you don’t know his story (because he is humble and rarely tells his story), I will share some of it here. Zain is a veteran. Zain served in the Navy, his 21st b-day was ruined by international battles. He has seen more of the world than most of us.


After his service Zain went to Pitt where he competed in bodybuilding and powerlifting. He was on Pitt’s powerlifting team and received his masters at Pitt. Additionally Zain has been working two full time jobs for the last 3 months. In order to finish his masters he needed to do an internship, he did an internship at the UPMC complex in Cranberry while working here full time. He rarely talks about it and shows up everyday ready to work. I respect how he handled this. It also means that he set a high standard so if he gets lazy I can always remind him that his work load is now half of what it was all summer.


Zain we are lucky to have you at the U and we appreciate all you do and bring to the U.


There are many other people at Union Fitness that make us better everyday. I also want to thank all of our people for what they do. I know I am an imperfect leader, yet I keep trying to learn and grow daily. Our goal is to empower our people so they can empower our members and our community.


Thank you for spending time reading about these awesome people!


Todd Hamer



A Weekend at THE U

Throughout the summer we try to get outside and be involved in as many of the fun activities around the area as possible. Rarely does a weekend go by that we are not hosting or participating in an event. This past weekend was one of the biggest for us here at the U. We hosted the Iron City Open 6. This was the 11th full powerlifting meet here at UF. Following this on Sunday we hosted Gay 4 Good’s Yoga 4 Good. I want to thank everyone involved in each of these events.


The Iron City Open is one of the premiere events we host here at UF. This was the sixth year we were able to host this event. If it were not for Doug, Candi, and Doug’s crew we could not host this event. We also must thank the WRPF for governing this event. I do want to personally thank all the UF lifters, spotters, loaders, friends, coaches, and employees who were here that day making this event special. Pitt Powerlifting did a great job, as they always do. They spend the day spotting and loading weights, if you have never done this, I don’t recommend it, as it is not easy. Here is a short list of gym members who did great and spent their Saturday with us; Josh, Ava, Bobby, Tim, Joe, Shane, Dan, Sydney, Jared, Katie, Curtis, Skylyn, CeJ, Toria, Justin, Amelia, Yessica, Zain, Daria, Dahveed, and I hope I didn’t miss anyone. Congrats Skylyn on winning best lifter. I will also thank some of our class members for coming by to support. Jaclyn and Lexi we appreciate the support!


Yoga 4 Good was our second event this weekend. We had 22 people come out and enjoy some Yoga with our wonderful instructor Lauren. Thank you Lauren for leading this group. We made some donations of food and clothes to The Open Door, Inc. If you do not know who The Open Door Inc is please click on their site. They house HIV positive people who have little to no other options and are a local non profit. I was not aware of this organization yet we already have plans to work with them in the future.


Now that these events are over let’s start looking forward to our next big events. We will be sponsoring Open Streets on June 25th. Come see CeJ and his wheel of exercise, and support our friends at Bike PGH. July 15th come out to our 3rd annual pride event. We will have a bootcamp style workout (with special guest coaches), and a comedy show following the workout. We are also going to host United Not Divided to end July. This year we will have more than 10 local gyms coming down to the U for a day of working out and building community.


Thanks and I really hope I didn’t miss anyone.


Todd Hamer






Busy Weekend and Updates at UF

This weekend we are happy to be hosting two great events. First we will have the WRPF here for the Iron City Open. This event will take place all day Saturday. Then on Sunday we will be hosting our Gay 4 Good Yoga fundraiser. Below I will answer any questions about this week for both our members as well as visitors to UF.



  1. Where do I park? Street parking is always a good option. We also have a parking garage that you can pay for under UF. Either way there should be ample parking, even with a Pirate game and arts fest happening.
  2. Will the gym be open for members? Yes. The gym will have normal business hours. There will be some disruption to class schedules. Check MindBody for class changes. There will be some equipment from the strength lab that will be used for the meet.
  3. What are these events? The Iron City Open is a powerlifting meet that sold out months ago. You can still come have fun and watch the competition. The Yoga is a fundraiser for Gay 4 Good. There is still time to register and participate with this fun event.
  4. Are these events free? The meet is a ten dollar entry fee. CJ is currently working to find an animal rights group to make a donation to with some of the money. The Yoga event is free, yet they ask you to bring a donation the list of items on the their website. 
  5. Who are these events open to? You and all your friends! Both of these events will have fun for everyone. The meet will have a coffee truck, vendors with food, music and many weights will be moved by the competitors.  The Yoga is for all levels.


Any other questions you have? Just ask us. We are here to serve you and to make this weekend one of the best in the history of the U.


Todd Hamer

Stick to the Plan

Do you ever get bored in the gym? Hit a plateau? Show up with no plan?


Far too often, we find ourselves scrolling social media and getting caught up in influencers workouts on Instagram and tiktok. This makes us want to get up and go to the gym, which is a good thing, but it can lead to a lot of confusion. The result is you show up to the gym with no plan, just some stuff you saw on Instagram which is specific to someone else’s plan. You end up doing their workout , then the next day you do another different one, then another, the cycle continues. This leads to no linear progress in the gym and constant novelty. How can we solve this problem? How can we break strength plateaus?


Set a goal, one that is specific. An example would be: I want to increase my bench press by about 20lbs by the end of the month. 


The proper approach to this would be to set up a training block of about 4 weeks, the idea is you do the same movements for 4 weeks and get better both physically and mentally. 


  • Bench Press 5,3,2,1 (Set of 5, set of 3, set of 2, set of 1) (Increasing the weight every time)
  • DB incline Press 3 x 8-10  (Secondary bench)
  • BB Row 3 x 6-10 (Heavy Rows)
  • Chest fly 3 x 10-15 
  • Heavy tricep Ext. 3 x 6-10
  • Rear delts 3 x 10-15

Pick a day of the week to be your bench press day, and execute this plan for 4 weeks straight increasing the weight a small amount (5 to 10 lbs) each session! 


Give this a try for your bench day for at least a month, let me know if you get stronger! The same method can be applied to anything. 


Come to the gym prepared. Stick to the plan.


  • Michael Dowling 4.13.23

New Ryde Instructor Spotlight – Marlee

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


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



Birthday Week at the U

Beware the ides of March. We all know that March 15th is a day to be wary of and this makes me convinced that CJ will drop a dumbbell on my face during this day. Until that happens, I want to take a moments and celebrate all the B-Days we have this week at the U.


Gabriella Turano begins our week out with a big B Day shout out from us to her on March 14th. If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Gabriella, please do it soon before she leaves us. Gabriella is a senior at Pitt, she is majoring in exercise science, and plays goalie on Pitt’s lacrosse team.


Haley Morgan is next up to bat as the queen of the ides of March. Haley has the honor of being born on March 15th. Haley is also our queen of yoga. She handles all things yoga for us here at UF. The team of yoga instructors she has is amazing and if you have not spent some time unwinding or getting your butt kicked in yoga then give it a try sometime.


Curtis Miller is batting third this week with a March 16th B-Day. If you are a UF regular, then you should know Curtis. He has been around here for about four years now and always makes an impact. While he is no longer full time, he is still around and helping everyone from top level lifters to beginners.


Dylan Heisey is batting clean up for us on this birthday week with a March 17th B-Day. During his college days, Dylan was coached by my good friend David Kitchen. He came in here looking for a job and I texted David and asked “should I hire him?” I will not tell you exactly what David said….but we ended up hiring him. Most of you may not know Dylan because he works with our college teams exclusively. However, ff you see him around then go ahead and introduce yourself as he is our Olympic lifting friend.


Did you know this fact? You would only need 26 people in a group to have a 50/50 chance of two people sharing a birthday. This may seem at odds with common sense, but birthdays tend to cluster around weather events. Big snow storm? Conveniently enough, 9 months later a bunch of children are born.

Don’t Worry About the Fringes

I have been working in this industry long enough to see arguments of all types. I have too often participated in arguments that were not worth my time and have seen great coaches as well as trainers make this mistake as well. Often times it begins with a simple statement such as, “calories in vs calories out is what matters”. This is often where get lost on the fringes. “Calories in vs calories out” holds a lot of truth. But, is it perfect? No, nothing is perfect. Yet, if we don’t get lost on the fringes of this statement then we see how true the statement really is.


KISS & SAID Principles. 


I love these two acronyms. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) and SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands), cover most topics we feel so inclined to discuss. KISS principle is beyond easy. It is simply just a reminder to not overcomplicate the whole process. If you want to get stronger then lift weights, if you want to lose weight then burn more calories, pretty simple right?


SAID principle is also straightforward. SAID entails that if you want any adaptation to occur then you must make it specific. If you wish to run a marathon then you must run. If you wish to be bench press 500 lbs then you must do some bench pressing. Your body will adapt to the specific demand that you place upon it. This is true in anything that you do. To build on this further, If you want to be more educated then read more and if you want to be more flexible then stretch more.


The beauty of these two principles is that they keep us grounded. If you are keeping it simple and specific, then you cannot get lost on the fringes. It is very easy to see thousands of crazy (often unnecessary) exercises online, avoid these and stick to the basics. So go get some hard work under your belt, while also finding some consistency.


I will leave you with this. There are no life hacks. When someone says, “no one cares work harder”, I want you to remember that I care. As a coach, trainer, GM of a gym, or whatever other hats I wear, I know it is easy to get lost and frustrated in a sea of information. Many times it just takes a mere step back in order to look at the issue again. This allows us to see the solution in a more simplistic manner.  So remember this, when you get confused and want to avoid the fringes of the issue, just take a step back and show up again tomorrow.