Category Archives: Uncategorized


Biceps are an underrated muscle to everyday life. Especially now with a lot of people working from home and sitting at computers . Your biceps are constantly in a shortened state for 5-8 hrs a day. When you finally break from that repetitive motion you will more then likely have stiffness, less flexibility, and some pain/discomfort.


The bicep muscle has two tendons that attach at the top of the arm and scapula. These tough bands of tissue can become very sore and painful if they are over worked. Athletes , like baseball players, swimmers, golfers etc. Sometimes develop tendinitis. The connective tissue and muscle should work harmoniously together. There is a balance that needs to happen between not enough use and over use.


As a massage therapist when a client comes to me with discomfort at the top of the arm/ shoulder joint I think about,


  1. What action is causing the pain?
  2.  What does the muscle need?


I would take the client through range of motion exercises to see how much flexibility the client has, and to determine where exactly the tension is originating . I would then spend more time working on the tissue to help create space and openness in the joint allowing the fascia(tissue) to glide over each other properly. Cups can really help with this!! But that’s another blog.


Sarah Paladin

RYDE Instructors Part 2

We have 4 more Ryde instructor introductions to share with the UF Community on today’s blog. Please welcome Bill, Natalie, Mallory and Meagan! 


Bill Battistone


I am originally from Chicago, Illinois, but went to school in Des Moines, Iowa, where I studied education and met my wife. I was a teacher and football/wrestling coach in Des Moines before moving to Iowa City to begin work as an Assistant Principal while my wife finished graduate school. I am currently the Principal of Avonworth Elementary School in Pittsburgh, PA, and have been there for the past five years since our family relocated to Pittsburgh. When I am not working, I enjoy golf, watching, playing, and refereeing rugby, and being a big Pittsburgh sports fan! I live in Troy Hill with my partner, Martina, and our newborn daughter, Zadie (born November 12, 2021). We also have a dog (Remington) and a cat (Blitz). I started teaching ryde and bootcamp classes at Urban Elements in 2020 and have really enjoyed continuing to teach at UF! I pride myself on fun playlists, structuring my classes around the songs, trying to create an environment where the time just flies by!


Natalie Paoletta


Hey I’m Natalie!


I currently am a Master in Business Administration and work as a healthcare recruiter as my day job. I started teaching just over a year ago and teaching fitness classes has become a huge passion of mine!


I have always been active and enjoy a good workout but fell in love with teaching after I received my certification in February of 2021. Shortly after my teaching journey in yoga started, I was encouraged to start teaching Ryde and HIIT classes.


My classes are designed with all fitness levels in mind. They will challenge you but keep it fun at the same time. I like to have an energetic teaching style that will help you push through to achieve your fitness goals. Come Ryde with me Tuesdays at 5:30!


Mallory Fallert


I started using the ryde bikes in a small studio in the south hills and fell in love instantaneously with them! I soon began teaching in 2019 at Urban Elements in the North Shore. As a registered yoga instructor, I love the connection I was able to have with these bikes physically, mentally, and emotionally. Every ride is YOUR ryde!


I encourage you to come as you are on the bike and while riding. All I want is for you to feel lighter than you did when ending my class. Whether that be a big sweat puddle or letting go of the negativity that doesn’t serve you! I am always up for the perfect kinds of beats that make my classes fly by! With my high energy and cues you won’t even realize how hard you just pushed yourself!


Meagan Gnibus


Meagan is a RN currently finishing a graduate degree in Nurse Anesthesia at the University of Pittsburgh (December, baby!).  She moved back to PA after living in Florida for over a decade where she attended The Florida State University.


Meagan began her fitness instructor journey in 2013 when she was invited to take a spin class taught by Sharon Skittle.  It was the ass kicking workout that pushed her to pursue Real Ryder Certification with Urban Elements and Cycology. She would go on to complete her 200-hour yoga training with Urban Elements as well and continued to teach there for 8 years.


A little over a year ago she joined Union Fitness as a substitute yoga instructor and when Urban Elements had to close their doors, came to us as a scheduled Ryde instructor.


You can catch Meagan every Sunday morning where she blends a variety of music genres and mixes up traditional Real Ryder moves with playful combinations to keep your heart rate up and balance your muscle groups.  Every workout is different and guaranteed to leave you feeling ready for brunch and good about the work you put in!

Unsure about changing Sunday from a rest day to a play day? Take the gamble…you won’t be disappointed.


You can catch Bill teaching bright and early Mondays, Natalie and Mallory teaching Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Meagan every Sunday morning!

Meet the Interns, Tristan

Hello everyone, my name is Tristan Hillebert and I am currently a junior at Chatham University.  During this spring semester I will be hanging out around Union Fitness completing my internship.  I will be graduating next year with a major in exercise science along with a minor in nutrition.  I am also a part of the Men’s Ice Hockey Team, due to this I have been lifting and training at Union quite frequently over the past two years.  Along with training for hockey I have a big passion for the weight room particularly bodybuilding. 


I’m excited to be working with everyone at Union and gaining knowledge about operating a gym along with working with athletes, teams, and all types of clients! After school I would love to open a training facility of my own to work with athletes and other forms of competitors.  Outside of the gym I enjoy being outdoors, hunting, fishing, and watching movies.  I look forward to seeing/ meeting everyone around Union over the next few months! 

Meet the Interns, Allison

Hey everyone! My name is Allison Ream and I’m an intern here at Union Fitness for the spring semester. I am a senior at Robert Morris University, located in Moon Township. I’m majoring in Sport Psychology and I’m also getting a minor in Sport Management. I was born and raised in Indiana, PA in a big family of seven. I am passionate about physical fitness and have always had a sport-oriented lifestyle. Growing up I played volleyball, baseball, softball, basketball, danced, and did gymnastics. I got into psychology because of my fascination for the mind-body connection and how big of a role your own mentality plays in your everyday performance. Sport psychology gives me the opportunity to combine many of my interests all into one. I hope to become a certified mental performance consultant in the future. My dream job would be to be a team psychologist for a professional sports team, specifically in the NFL. Some things I enjoy when I’m not working out are coffee, sneakers, rap music, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.


I chose to intern at UF to see athletes first-hand be motivated and reach their goals mentally and physically. I love the family feel you get when you step in the gym and can’t wait to get more knowledge from the employees here. I’m super excited to be a part of the Union Fitness team!


Editors Note. Allison trains at the same gym that Skylyn trains at in Indiana PA.

Ham’s Rehab and Recovery

As I wrote about last week I have been dealing with a minor injury. Anyone who trains will eventually deal with some injuries. Today I am going to lay out what I am doing to recover from my injury.


My injury occurred Tuesday January 18th, this puts me about two weeks out. The first week I did nothing. Week two was rehab and all machine lifts. I am going to show you want I will be doing this week to begin to work my way back to training.



Bike 10 minutes

Rehab stuff 

90/90 hip stretch x10

DeadBugs x10

Single Leg Raise x10

Toe Touch Heels Elevated, Toes Elevated, Feet Flat x3 each

ISO Squats 10 count at bottom x5

3 sets of each of these.

Chins 20×1 with 10 sec rest. This is done as escalating density training. The goal is to keep volume static yet get more work in less time over the month.

Then off to machines. At this point I just do each machine we have for 4 sets. First set 20 reps, second set for 15, third is 12, final set is 10 reps.




Bike started at 20 minutes and add 2 minutes each day. This week I’ll start at 26 minutes. After this I repeat the entire rehab cycle I do on M/W/F, the only difference is I add 30 seconds of battle rope between each set. The goal is keep HR between 120-135 for the entire session.


I feel much better after last week and hope that I keep progressing. The goal is to be back squatting and moving 100% in about 8 weeks.





Meet the Interns, Zain

Hi my name is Zain Skalos. I am 25 years old, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Navy veteran. I found my passion for fitness during my time in the Navy. At that time, my goal was to become a Naval Officer so that I could be a pilot. I found my passion of working out and love for the community of fitness while pursuing this goal. I knew then that I did not want to become a Pilot and I decided that I would finish with the military and apply to colleges.


This led me to the University of Pittsburgh where I currently am working on receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. However, my future goal is to end up as a Physical Therapist. During my first semester at Pitt, I completed two men’s physique shows. After giving a go at bodybuilding, I decided to try Powerlifting. So I joined the Powerlifting Club at the University of Pittsburgh and made many great memories with many awesome friends. Through the experiences with the team and being able to better myself, I fell in love with powerlifting. These experiences would later lead me to the opportunity of training at Union Fitness. While training at Union, I enjoyed the environment, the mentors, and the community that Union creates. I felt that this is where I had to be. So as part of my senior internship at the University of Pittsburgh, I applied for the internship at Union. I am looking forward to learning from every single person that comes into Union Fitness and creating more memories!

It’s a Hockey Night in the Burgh’

This Friday January 14th, it’s a Chatham Hockey night in Pittsburgh!


At Union we have had the opportunity to work with The Chatham University Men’s Hockey program for 2 seasons now. They were Union’s first collegiate program to train at UF through a prior coaching and work relationship made at Robert Morris University. The men’s hockey team brings exciting energy, hard working attitude and team support to every training session at Union, long story short they work hard. During the off season the men would train 5 days a week performing, maximal lifts, explosive jumps and throws, powerful olympic movements, athletic exercises and much more to gear up for their season. The men are still working hard in season to stay buzzing on the ice and fuel the tanks for a seek and destroy season. All their hard work and dedication to making each day better, learning from the last play is paying off and we are excited to see the team grow and to continue to build our relationship with the players, coaches and Chatham community. The Men’s hard work, enjoyment and success training with us at Union has sparked 9 more athletic teams from Chatham to join us this year. We are more than excited to Roll with the Cougs!


So now is our chance to show our support and love for our student athletes and watch some good old fashioned and historic hockey being played in Pittsburgh. This Friday get to the Hunt Armory on 324 Emerson Street in Shady Side at 7pm puck drop and let’s scream for our Cougs! This will be the first ever NCAA hockey game to be played at this site.


See ya Friday,



Welcome to UF Katie

Hey Union Fitness! My name is Katie Jones and I have been working at Union since November. You can catch me coaching Cardio Lab bright and early at 6 am on Thursdays and Friday (and the occasional Saturday morning)! Soon I will start coaching strength & conditioning for Chatham’s swim team. I am super excited!


I am from Saxonburg, a small town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. I have been living in the city for just about 5 years. I am a 7th and 8th-grade math teacher at Propel Homestead. I graduated from Westminster College in 2017 with a degree in Early Childhood and Special Education.


While in college, I was on the swim team and the cross country team. I was a competitive swimmer for the majority of my life. I started when I was 5 years old! I have been a runner since 6th grade when I started cross country. Swimming and running have taught me so much about dedication, hard work, and perseverance. They also opened the door to many coaching opportunities. I coached a local community swim team for 3 years while I was in college. When I moved to Pittsburgh, I coached for Pittsburgh Elite Aquatics for a little over a year. I have also coached countless running clubs within the community I teach. Coaching brings me so much joy! I love working with all levels and different types of athletes.


When I am not teaching or coaching, you can find me training at Union or running! I started competing in Powerlifting this past year (shout out to Jared Caroff for convincing me to do the Push-Pull meet!) I also run marathons for fun- crazy, I know. This past November, I completed my 9th marathon while keeping up with my Powerlifting training. Keep your eyes out for some blog posts about the combination of endurance training and strength training!


Outside of training, I love going to breweries, hanging out with my friends, & their dogs, and finding the best nachos in Pittsburgh (if you have any recommendations, hit me up). Thanks for reading a little bit about me! So happy to be a part of the Union Fitness Fam!

Welcome Back Toria

Hello! I’m one of the new(ish) employees here at UF. I wanted to introduce myself and share some of my story with you all. I graduated from Slippery Rock University with my BS in Exercise Science and from the University of Pittsburgh with my MS in Health, Physical Activity, and Chronic Disease. I worked at UF as front desk staff/coach for just under a year while also working at a research lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Then I left Pennsylvania to take on a clinical research position with the University of Colorado, Denver. I am now the Director of Business Operations here at UF. 


Since I left UF last year, I have had a bit of a crazy unpredictable life (as we all typically do, right?). I had some personal health problems, and the realization that I wanted to change my career path completely. I have worked in the clinical research world for over 3 years and have seen everything from cardiovascular surgery in heart failure patients to diabetic foot ulcer treatments to sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day entering data. I wanted to change my day-to-day routine up and go from working in a clinical hospital setting to more of a fitness/gym setting. When I was at UF before, it made me realize how much I loved working in a gym and being surrounded by other people who were looking to better themselves.


Prior to my initial time at UF, I had struggled with maintaining my personal fitness and health. I gained just about 50lbs over the course of a few years from being lazy and unmotivated. I believe I gained 25 of those 50lbs in just one year. I only saw the inside of a gym maybe a few times per year. I was very unhappy with myself and didn’t care enough to try and be healthy. I don’t think I even knew what a vegetable tasted like. My physical and mental health both went down a steep hill. I ended up discovering a local CrossFit gym that I figured I could try out. I was intimidated and very unsure of it at the time, but I immediately fell in love with exercise and fitness. I spent a little over a year doing CrossFit and then I ended up coming to UF to work and train. I now use my background and passion for exercise and fitness to help others reach their fitness and health goals.


I am very excited to be back with you all and looking forward to meeting those of you who I don’t know yet.


Stay healthy my friends!



3 Cues to Stronger Lifts

When it comes to trying to be the most efficient we can be with our lifts, there are so many cues and words being thrown around that it can become overwhelming at times. Every “coach” has a list of cues that they use when working with their clients. The fact is that we only need to focus on and perfect a couple cues in order to make great technical progress with each lift. Listed below are three cues that I use with every individual that I work with in order to become proficient with the squat, bench press, and deadlift.




1)Twist into the floor: Your feet are one of the most crucial aspects of a quality squat. I like to think about it from the floor up. Spread your toes and plant them into the floor while focusing on three points of contact. The ball under the big toe, the ball under the pinky toe, and the heel. Twist outward (without rolling on the outside of your foot) in order to engage your hips. Keep that pressure & tension the entire squat.


2)Push into your belt: Bracing is absolutely crucial for a big strong squat. Flexing your abs IS NOT the same as bracing and pushing into your belt. When you take a big breath before you lift, it should go deep into your diaphragm and down & out into your obliques, abs, and even lower back when done correctly. A simple and effective way to practice this technique is to use a small micro mini band around your mid section to push into in order to provide feedback.


3)Pull the bar into your back: Pulling your shoulder blades together as tightly as possible while having your hands as close as possible to your shoulders certainly helps to keep the back rigid, but it provides little engagement and structure of the big lat muscles which connect down at the waist and keep the entire back erect. This will also help to keep your sternum tall. When you squat, think about doing a behind the neck lat pulldown. That is the same tension and concept that you want to feel when you are pulling the bar down into your back during the squat.




1)Set your lats: Just as we start the squat with the feet, It’s good to start the bench with the upper back. When laying down on the bench, think about pulling your shoulder blades down towards your back pockets as hard as possible. This will pull your sternum up towards the ceiling and provide a very strong base and foundation for a solid bench, as your lats are one of the biggest and strongest muscles in our body.


2)Bend the bar: When you grab the bar, think about putting all of the pressure on the outside pad of your palm underneath of your pinky finger. Squeeze that area as hard as possible while thinking about “bending” the bar in your hands just as you would if you were trying to break a stick. This will build a tremendous amount of tension in your back along with stability as you pull the bar down and press it.


3)Push yourself into the bench: A lot of times we think about pressing the bar off of us as hard as possible. It’s our natural instinct. This usually leads to losing that tension that we’ve previously created in our back. When you bring the bar down to your chest, focus on driving your head, neck, and upper back down into the bench as hard as possible as soon as you go to press the bar. This will keep you much more stable and give you more power.




1)Lats in back pockets: As with the squat and bench press, our lats are a huge benefactor for a strong and stable deadlift. As you’re setting up to grab the bar, pull those lats down into your back pockets and pull your sternum up so it’s facing the floor out in front of you. This will keep you in a strong & safe position while providing a ton of tension and rigidity throughout the lift.


2)Pull the bar through your body: One of the biggest things that will cause a difficult lift is letting the bar drift out away from your shins and your body. To correct this, focus on using those lats to pull the bar as close as possible to your body, almost as if someone had a band attached to it and was trying to pull it away from you. This will keep those lats tight and give you your best chance of staying in a strong position.


3)Leg press through the floor: Although we think of the deadlift as a “pull” the truth is, a majority of it is initiated by a “push”. Just as you drive a leg press away from you or press yourself away from the floor during a squat, you want to do the same with the beginning of a deadlift. Combining this cue while simultaneously focusing on your lats will give you the tension and position needed to perform a perfect lift.


As always, stop by and ask for any help related to these cues or any other aspect of your training program. We are more than happy to help.


– Curtis Miller