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Evaluating your training session

One big mistake I see people make when they train is being honest with theirselves about what they accomplished during the session. Too often I meet beginners who judge their training session on two questions.


Question 1. Did I sweat?

I agree we should all sweat during any training session, yet this is one of many factors that can tell us if we trained hard. Obviously the temperature in your training facility can affect this greatly. In addition to this some people just tend to sweat more than others. Also, training age can greatly affect how much one sweats. Generally speaking the more years of training one has under the belt the more they will sweat. The body does adapt so it will adapt to sweating just as with any other process.


Question 2. Am I sore?

Soreness tends to occur after a breakdown in muscle tissue has happened. This can be a very good thing, yet we do not need to be so sore after each and every training session that we can’t walk. Being too sore too often can mean that your body is not prepared for the training that you are asking of it. This does not mean the workout was great, it does mean you had high levels of muscular damage.


So how do we evaluate a training session?


First and foremost ask yourself the basic question did I improve? If you did more weight, ran faster or improved in any area of your training then the answer is probably yes. This question should be a much deeper then just how did you feel.  In addition to this be sure that you are tracking your progress somehow. Recently we added teambuildr app to our classes. This is a great way to track what you have been doing and if you are progressing. Look at your graph and you should know if your workouts are progressing.


A final point I would be remiss if I did not mention is the lifters that I see who use a RPE. RPE is Rating of Perceived Exertion, without going into too much history this was developed to allow people to judge how hard they were training, and it was based on heart rate. Initially the scale used was 6-20. You would run then ask on a 6-20 scale how you felt, the theory was 6 would be a heart rate of 60 and 20 would be a heart rate of 200. What was found was this is not even close to how the body adapts to acute stressors. So the numbers were changed from 1-10, similar to a pain scale. Many lifters use this method to judge their lifts. The issue with this is people have a hard time being honest with theirselves. I have seen too many eager lifters grind a rep out and then write down RPE 7. At this point I am pretty sure that this person shouldn’t use an RPE scale. If you choose to use this method video your lifts and ask yourself, if this was someone else lifting what would you rate the lift at on your scale?


Pointers for improving your evaluation of your workouts.

  1. Record Everything
  2. Test what you want to improve
  3. Realize not everyday will be a perfect session
  4. Be consistent

If you follow these 4 tips I promise you’ll improve.

First Union Fitness Push Pull

For those of you unfamiliar with the strength project this is a program we run every year to help our members kick off the new year and hopefully become a little better. This is the third time we have run this program and it has been a great success. This year we are making some changes and would like to invite all of you to be involved. We are going to end this years strength project with an invite and members only push pull.




What is a push pull?

A push pull is a bench press and deadlift competition.  Similar to a powerlifting meet without the squat.


When and where will we have this competition?

We will hold the competition in our strength lab on Sunday March 15th 2020.


Should you compete?

Short answer YES! If you never competed in lifting come out and give it a try in a more relaxed environment. If you have done meets then use this as a training day.


What is the cost?

We are asking that everyone who competes donate to 

This is an organization that is near and dear to one of our members Nicole Nelson. Feel free to ask her for more details about the organization.


This covers the basics and we will begin signing people up in February. Until then let’s start training and pushing ourselves to be better versions of who we are.


“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Eleanor Roosevelt


Try something new

This past weekend Union Fitness had our first ever Olympic Weightlifting seminar. I realize that most of our lifters are more accustomed to the power lifts and their variations, yet I have always been amazed by great Olympic Weightlifters. If you have any free time please watch Pyros Dimas and consider that he won 4 Olympic medals in weightlifting. Consider this as we age as lifters. Olympic lifters don’t tend to last as long as us powerlifters so his feat of strength is amazing.


We were very lucky to have a good friend of Union Fitness, Cameron Davidson come in and speak and teach the lifts to about 20 of us who were not afraid to try something new. Cam is a strength coach at The Pennsylvania State University where he works with volleyball and men’s ice hockey. Cam has also been a competitive Olympic lifter for more than a decade and coached many other weightlifters. His best lifts are 140 snatch (308 lbs) and 175 clean (about 385 lbs). Clearly, we had a good person to show us how to perform the lifts!


The first hour and a half were spent in the classroom with Cam and he went over the finer points of the snatch as well as the clean and jerk. Cam is a true technician when it comes to leaves lifts and made so many points that I didn’t even consider.


Biggest take-homes were;

Stay full foot as long as possible.

Learn to move your body around the bar.

Know when to be violent with the bar and when to be patient.

Most of us stink at these lifts.


After the hour and a half in the classroom, Cam brought us to the weight room where we went over the lifts from top to bottom. I will caution anyone who wants to try Olympic lifting- don’t do it if you are also training for powerlifting. The two styles of deadlifting are too different from one another. The weight room time really opened my eyes, and I believe others as well, on how technical these lifts really are. If you are interested in learning more about these lifts contact us and we will do more work with them. If you are not I still recommend you watch some great lifters and see the similarities as well as the difference in different lifting styles.



Dave Tate is a friend and in many ways a mentor. If you are not aware of who Dave is then visit his website You may notice this site looks familiar as they did most of the equipment here at Union Fitness. One of his mantras is “live, learn and pass on.” I often think about these words when I do my job. We must live (practice what we preach), learn (continue to push our education) and pass on (share what we know with others). This leads me to the mindset we must have in the gym.


We all have goals when we enter the doors of any gym. Some people have the goal of increasing their strength while others may want to drop a few pounds. No matter what the goal we all must approach what we are doing with a strong mindset. Too often in the world of training people assume this mindset means you must be rude while you are training. While goals and having your program are important it is also important to keep yourself open to others and to live, learn and pass on.


I left collegiate strength and conditioning to become the GM at Union Fitness because it is truly a one of a kind gym environment. I hope you all understand that few gyms can say they have multiple 700 lbs squatters, 700 lbs dead lifters and they are training next to people who may be deadlifting for the first time. This is a cool place to be, yet what makes it better is that there is a mutual respect. Whether your goal is to bench press 600 lbs or to bench press 135 lbs- it doesn’t matter. What matters is are you helping those around you and are you improving while helping?


Due to my job I have to train at work and at times my training is interrupted by work, this is the price I pay for having such a cool job. For all of you are members I hope you know that when you come in here it is our goal to allow you to not be interrupted by work, life, and the outside stressors. So when you come to us we ask that you be prepared to live, learn and pass on so everyone can become stronger and better versions of ourselves.


The Family Just Got Bumpy(er)

Hello Union Fam,


I am pumped to announce that I am joining Union Fitness full-time. You’ll be seeing a lot more of this Bearded Bumpy Bub from morning to night!


I have been in professional and collegiate strength and conditioning for 8 years. During my time I received a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science from Slippery Rock, trained NFL prospects from Ohio State & Youngstown State Football, worked side by side with the NL Champion Mets organization, obtained a Master Degree from Morehead State and worked with many athletes and weekend warriors of all fitness ages and levels.


Most recently I trained the men’s and women’s hockey, volleyball and rowing teams from Robert Morris. The experience and lessons I have learned from those years are going to help me continue to grow Union Fitness and assist you in your wellness adventure. We have some great ideas coming this year but I can’t give away all our secrets.


Let’s keep the good times rolling and Get Bumpy!









Strength Project 2020

We are brining back one of most popular programs of the year. The strength project 2020 is here. Let’s start out with some FAQ about the strength project.


What is it?

It’s a fitness challenge for the new year. No matter your level of fitness this program can work for you.


What you will get from the strength project?

Two months of unlimited UF membership gets you all of our classes.

In addition you will receive a 30 minute sit down with one of our coaches to help set  your goals.

5 free prepared meals from Fit Fresh Co.


What do you do?

From Jan 13th-March 14th you must attend 28 classes. This is an average of 3.5 classes per week. You are required to attend a minimum of 4 yoga classes. The other 24 classes can be a mix of any of our powerful, bootcamp or recharge classes.


And new to the strength project this year we will end it with with a push pull competition. This is a bench press deadlifting competition and it will be run in house for our members and invited guests only. The push pull will be a fundraiser (more on this to come), we are working with one of our members to help a local children’s hospital. Once all details are set we will release the information.


In addition anyone who is not an unlimited member we are giving you the opportunity to do the strength project for a one time fee of 40 dollars. So if you are a fitness center member and want to try something different give it a try.


If you are interested in this program just give us a heads up before January 13th and we will get you signed up.





Travel Training Tips

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. This is the time of the year in which many of us are traveling. Time in the car, airport and bus depot can lead to poor diet, too much sitting and stress. Here are a few travel tips to help get you through the holiday season without losing too much strength or adding too much adipose tissue.


  1. Plan ahead with your meals. Carry some healthy snacks with you at all times. You do not want to rely on airport food in a pinch.
  2. Carry your water with you. Too often when traveling people become dehydrated just do to poor planning so keep a water bottle with you at all times.
  3. Give yourself a 30 minute training session. Don’t concern yourself with the specifics just move your body. The key is is to burn some calories, move your body and sweat a little. Keep it at 30 minutes as it is the holidays and you should be seeing family and friends.
  4. If you are driving plan stops every hour to move. Set your timer on your phone and when it goes off find the next rest stop and get out and move your body!
  5. Find a new gym where you travel. Most gyms offer day passes and this is a good way to try some new classes, machines or just a different training environment.
  6. Take a family walk/hike. One of the best things that you can do for your body is become bipedal. We sit too much and need to walk. So before you take a nap, take a walk with some family and friends.
  7. Do the Christmas bird count. Audubon Society has a yearly bird count, they use volunteers to count bird populations and it helps them access the health of the environment. Get outside, meet some new friends and help a great organization.

Here is your holiday travel training tips. None of these tips will help you become a top level powerlifter yet they will help you stay sane and in shape over the holidays.

Moving on in 2020


I’ve spent the past three years of my life being almost wholly dedicated to Union Fitness. I love this place, the communities we’ve built here and our UF staff. I love spending all day at the gym, even when that ends up being up to 16 hours! I love watching our UF members learn new things about themselves while they learn how to move their bodies. I even love teaching Cardio Lab, something I swore up and down I would never ever ever do. 



And as we enter a new year (a new freakin decade even), I’m both excited and saddened to write that I will be leaving UF at the end of this month.


I thrive on challenge, and in 2020 I’m taking on something terrifying and new – opening a new business, specializing in a service that has changed my life, in partnership with the person I trust most in the world. And that means stepping away from Union Fitness to focus on making it all happen (and taking care of myself). 


These past three years at UF have been a period of huge growth for me – from the obvious career changes to relationship changes to health changes. My time here has made me a better coach for sure, but also a better human. If you’ve read any of my blogs over the last few years, you know I love a good list, so here’s one more for good measure:


Some real life lessons I learned at UF:


  • To give to the fullest extent to others, we need to fill our own cup first. I failed at this many times in the last three years. I’m making progress on fully accepting that lesson now, and it will show in how I coach and work with others in the future. 
  • It’s possible to truly love your work, but even when you love it, you need time away. Burn out is very real and very possible.
  • Everyone is doing the best they can. It may not seem that way on the surface.
  • It takes an immense amount of strength to say “no,” and that strength can be built just like we build strength in the gym. Either you set your boundaries or others will set them for you.
  • When to go above and beyond, and when to take a step back and let someone else have the chance to make those leaps.
  • There is so much satisfaction in truly being the expert of your job. 
  • What’s really needed to keep a business running. 
  • The joy of being the person keeping things moving from the background. And the freedom that comes with letting go of the attachment to external validation (in all aspects of life).
  • To trust my instincts. They’re not always right, but they’re always useful.
  • Relationships change. Sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it brings you closer in ways you’d never expect. I’ve learned who I want to have in my life (and who I don’t).
  • Everything is temporary, including both excruciating pain and delirious happiness. These things are okay.
  • I have the ability to do really difficult things, if I can only accept that the fear isn’t going away. We can act despite being afraid.
  • How to be brave. 
  • How to trust.
  • And how to know when it’s time to move on.


One of my goals as a coach here at UF has been to inspire the people around me to find the will and strength to get out of their comfort zones. I also happen to think that the best way to lead is by example. Competing at powerlifting and running a marathon in the same weekend was incredibly difficult. Leaving my comfortable job for the uncertainty of starting a new business is on another level, and I am beyond confident that I will grow from the experience. I hope if any of you reading this have been struggling to make a similar decision, you find the strength to say yes to doing what scares you.


I am so grateful for the people I’ve met and relationships I’ve built here. I may be leaving Union Fitness, the facility, but I hope to remain in contact with the community. You can always reach out to me otherwise, via Instagram (@elpogs), email (, or even text (215-917-7332).  In addition, I’ve found that I actually really love writing these blogs, so I plan to get my own thing going soon. If you’re interested in following my training and the struggles of starting a business, keep an eye out.


And finally, maybe most importantly, I’ve discovered the joy of yelling over trap and EDM music while watching all of you sweat. I’ll be teaching one final Cardio Lab class on New Years Eve, my last day here. It’ll be open to everyone, so if you want to get one more in, I’ll see you there.

Floor Pressing and Pumps

This is my training log for Thursday December 12th 2019. I am currently 16 weeks out from my first full meet in two years. I had a few members here at Union Fitness ask me if I would do a meet with them so I guess I’m doing one. Goals right now are just keep working some general strength while getting ready for the last twelve weeks when the real heavy stuff begins.



Warm Up

I begin every training session with 100 jump ropes.

After this mobility work and some rehab for shoulder and upper back.

Band Rows 100

Floor Press 205×3 225×3 245×3 245×3 265×5 done between 65-80% of my best Floor Press.

Z Press (Saviscaks Press), I always call it Z Press 4×6 135. If you do not know this lift it is a great strength builder. Just do a shoulder press while seated on the floor.

1a SA FatBell Bench 4×10

1b Bodyweight Row 4×10

2a T Bar Row 3×10

2b Tri Pushdown 3x30sec

Some shrugs and abs




In my programming I always leave flexibility at the end to have fun with. I also have learned that I must preprogram my accessories and stick pretty close to the plan or I will lose focus late in the lift.


Time to Recharge

You’ve trained, you’ve had a great day at work and it’s time to unwind at the end of the day. Now what do you do? I ask this question to everyone as we have a plan for how to train, how to save money and how to attack many aspects of our lives. Yet do we have a plan for how to recharge? This is a mistake that too many of us make. I am writing this in hopes of helping some of you make a plan on how to recharge or “sharpen your saw.” This is one of the most underrated means of self improvement. 


I began thinking about this post over the weekend and I decided to ask the interwebz their thoughts on this topic. I then posted a question on instagram asking my friends what they do to recharge. The answers all seemed to have similarities. They were all activities that we can get lost in the process. The answers ranged from cooking, getting in touch with nature and meditating. There were others as well such as reading or napping and even a nice libation. Each of these have some positive benefit yet some must be taken with a bit of caution. So I came up with this list to help you in sharpening your own saw. 


  1. Find an activity that will take you to another place in your mind. Athletes speak of flow and this can also be true with reading, cooking or even a hike. 
  2. Disconnect! This is important. Make sure with your activity you remove distractions. I forget the study, yet I remember hearing about a study (I believe it was on hidden brain podcast), the study had three groups. Group one took a test with their phone in their hands. Group two took the same test with their phone just out of their reach. Group three left their phone in another room. As you probably guesses group three did the best followed by group 2 then finally group 1. So leave the phone.
  3. Remember that exercise is a stressor and all stressors are cumulative. In the real world this means that stress adds up and if you had a hard work day you may have to cut back a little on your training, or if you sleep wasn’t perfect you may need to adjust.
  4. Find time to sit in silence everyday. The top three areas with nerve endings are hands, feet and ears. We abuse our ears everyday so give them a break and relax. 
  5. Get a massage from one of our fine massage therapists. 
  6. Go back to your roots. This could mean spending time with family or taking a walk in a familiar neighborhood. 
  7. Volunteer. While this may seem like stress to many people yet paying it forward can help many people recharge.

This is just a short list that we came up with after reviewing what we do as well as others ideas. Just remember that stress is a personal reaction to whatever is happening to you. So each of us will have our own way of dealing with stress. The take home point is plan your recovery mentally they same way that you plan your training or meals.