Tag Archives: Goals

Four pillars: Training

Disclaimer: There is a big distinction that I want to make when you read this article. To accomplish any goal you must work hard but doing pointless work for the sake of working hard is dangerous. Hard work does not need to be complicated but precise and consistent.

 

This training article is not going to be about how I believe everyone needs to be a “beast”. There are enough videos out there that yell at you for an hour telling you to work harder. This article does not address what the best program is either. If must know I believe 5/3/1 is, simply because it’s easy to follow.

 

Of course, I believe that a good program helps to achieve a goal but the real challenge is to recover from that program. Hence why the first two pillars are about recovery. I truly mean a challenge. It is psychologically and physically challenging to recover better. It takes time and self-discipline. Now how to address programming.

 

Training needs to be simple. The more complex the program is the more room for error on your part. Most people do not need an intricate program with the latest research. Yes, I believe that some programs are better than others but what I mean is when you are starting out, make the simplest program ever. By simple I mean you are going to come in and do 3×20 on leg press and hamstring curls. Done. That’s a wrap for the day. Now, what are you doing tomorrow? The easier this program is, the more likely you are going to do it for a long period of time. The length of time following a program is far more important than the intensity of the program.

 

 

Injuries will slow you down. Injuries are inevitable no matter what level you are at, how long you have been doing it, or the intensity that you bring. What I believe to be far more controllable is the severity and length of the injury. Most people can remember that their shoulder felt weird that day when they decided to max out. Or when you woke up and your back wasn’t fully prime for that hard deadlift day. You probably did the workout anyway because you are no (whatever word you choose) and now your back/shoulder has been hurting. Congrats.

 

Here is another idea. Do the things that specifically only make your body feel good. If the pain or aggravation persists go see a doctor or physical therapist but what do they know. People know that I am bias towards physical therapist but a good therapist can help tremendously in keeping you on the path to accomplish your goal. Now ideally you have a program that has certain warm-up exercises or assistant exercises that will help the reduce severity of an injury that was to come.

 

Your primary focus should be on your weakness. Again the program doesn’t need the most complex excel sheet you can find but it does need to work on your weak points as the focus. In my case, my hamstrings are not a strong point for me. They have no idea what they are doing and are constantly sore. Hamstring exercises have always been in my programs but not to the extent they should have been. When I currently train legs  ¾ of the workout are now hamstring focus and my back has thanked me for it. This is where a coach, personal trainer, or training partner can be a tremendous help. One of these people should let you know what “thing” needs to focus on.

Why Team?

When I was younger nothing stuck for me, it wasn’t until my mother forced me into swimming that I eventually learned to love it. I started on a summer swim team, it was an outdoor pool and this less than 100lb girl would shiver like no other, my lips were blue and I was always and I mean always cold at practice. It was so bad that my mother had to buy me a wetsuit just so I could withstand an hour plus of practice. The Colby Sailfish is what started it all for me and from there my parents decided to put me into winter swimming, I remember it being a huge deal and caused so much drama. Back then moving from summer swimming to winter meant you wanted to be more competitive and looking back I realized if that never would have happened then I wouldn’t have been as competitive as I am today.

 

Swimming was a big part of my life and it helped me learn the importance of routine and structure. I followed swimming with cross-county and paired those together for the remainder of my school years. It didn’t leave much room for anything else but my life was sports and for as long as I can remember, even at 27 thats how it has always been. I’ve always enjoyed putting my all into something that gave me results based upon what I put in, it was entirely up to me and how hard I wanted to work. It showed me that work ethic didn’t throw out favors and it didn’t give away trophies for participation, there was a clear winner based upon time that was spent grinding.

 

My biggest takeaway from swimming was relays, it didn’t occur to me until later in life that I absolutely enjoyed the rush of being on a team consisting of four people. I’d always push myself harder, I’d swim faster and I’d leave it all out there in the pool for my teammates. This translated fluidly to when I started competing in the sport of Functional Fitness, being on a team consisting on two males and two females took pushing myself to a whole new level. In all my years of being an athlete I have never pushed myself to the point I continue to push myself on a day to day basis with my current teammates. 

 

This is why I think playing sports when you are younger is so important, it truly is part of what makes you who you are in this present moment. It teaches you things that you will carry throughout your life and give you skills that you can apply to many situations that aren’t even closely related to sports. When I was put on a relay in swimming I knew that I had a part to play in the outcome and with that being said, in life you play a part alongside many people. This can be your relationship, as a daughter, brother or sister, it could be as a parent or a coach. We are all constantly surrounded by opportunities to showcase our ability to work within a social structure and create something beautiful alongside others.

 

So, to answer the title of this blog, why team? I think it all comes down to being able to share something greater than yourself with other people. When working within a team generally you know your teammates abilities and they know yours so you’re able to jump in when they need a break and vise-versa. To be able to have this understanding amongst three other people is so rare and to even be able to communicate in such a way that you all understand what each individual is feeling is a learned skill from your younger years of competing. 

 

At the end of the day I absolutely love being on a team, it has given me a sense of belonging in a world that makes it so hard to be yourself. It’s also more than a team, they are your friends, your family, not because you spend so much time together but because you truly do care about each individual. I think I’ll always choose to be on a team in every aspect of my life, not just my athletic pursuits. If the life lessons of team sports taught me this much that it carried through till my 27th year around the sun then there is something to be said about the kind of person you turn into when you learn to let people help you and they let you help them in return.

 

Much love,

 

Jocelyn

State of the Union

We have now been closed for just over two months. Like many of you we can’t wait to return to the gym and Nova Place for some lifting, coffee as well as food and libations from Federal Galley. We still do not know when we will be re-opening, yet we are doing all we can to prepare for when that does happen. I wanted to write this post to tell all of you what we have been doing to prepare. We have some exciting things on the horizon and when we do re-open we will be ready to do more to help each and every one of you.

 

Expansion.

 

The expansion that we have been working on is moving forward. The work is almost done and the floor and outdoor turf will be down in two weeks. The equipment from elitefts is going to start arriving soon. When this space opens we will have more outdoor space than indoor space. We will also have garage doors that open to the turf. In the age of Covid-19 it will give us the opportunity to train without being stuck indoors. 

 

Cleaning.

 

We have increased our cleaning in the facility. This began before the shut down and will continue when we are able to re-open. We will continue with hourly wipe downs as well as our night crew disinfecting the entire facility. We have also had the ceilings and overhead ducts cleaned during this shut down.

 

Redefining who we are.

 

We have spent time doing discussing what we want to be and how we want to best service our members. It is important that we remember during this process that we want to be a part of the community and a gathering place for a diverse group of peoples to arrive and become better versions of theirselves. With this in mind we have set up a meeting with outside organizations to help us serve our clients better.

 

Following safety guidelines.

 

We have yet to receive safety guidelines from the state on how we can safely re-open. To be proactive we have reviewed Ohio’s safety guidelines and we are prepared to open with these guidelines. While we understand that Ohio’s guidelines are not going to be the same as PA’s we  are being prepared based upon the best information that we have available. The moment PA announces their guidelines we will review those and update ours to match. We want to make sure that you have a great and safe experience at UF and will do all we can to make this happen. 

 

In addition to these guidelines we are working closely with Faros properties to make sure that we are doing everything in accordance with the state, county and city to keep our facility safe. 

 

We appreciate each and everyone of you and hope to see you very soon.

 

Todd Hamer

CJ’s plan for impacting all!

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later! Opportunity favors the bold.”

― Richard Branson

 

 

At Union Fitness we have an amazing opportunity to impact the day and lives of our members every time they walk into our doors. At times, the answer is easy, just be a good person and give our members a great training experience. Other times, the answer lies beneath the surface of training, people want to be a part of something more, a sense of friendship and community. The opportunity I have here is to be a good human, training partner, coach and community member to continue to help build Union as not only a gym but a place of support, encouragement and comfort…a real judgment free zone (shots fired).

 

 

How do I do this…sometimes I don’t know, it takes time to build trust and relationships. Saying hello and introducing yourself makes a stranger, no longer a stranger. Being a good training partner comes with some responsibilities, holding each other accountable to show up, keeping each other motivated to stay the course outside the gym and someone that makes training fun. When it comes to coaching you have to meet people where they are at in their training/wellness journey. Giving a member too little or too much may make them unmotivated to return or discourage their progress. A good coach has to motivate but also be realistic at the same time with progress, always be supportive nonetheless. Finally to build our family and community atmosphere we have to support each other no matter the weight on the bar or distance of race. We can even show our love outside the gym by supporting our members local business, events, hobbies and our community as a whole. It’s always great to see a familiar smiling face at an outside event.

 

 

Some cool events support events coming to Union are:

Feb 25th – CEJ’s Birthday Powerful class with donations going to a local Animal Shelter

March 15th- All Out For Amelia with donations going to families & children impacted by cancer

 

 

If you have any cool events coming up or neat ideas, let us know! If you want to try and event, but aren’t sure, say yes and we can figure it out together.

 

 

Long story short, be good to yourself and others and live well.

Cheers,

CEJ

Cody’s Training with Stew

Three Fridays ago, as Stew (a member at Union) was leaving the gym, he nonchalantly asked, “Wanna squat with me tomorrow? I’ve got sets of 10 on safety squat bar.” If you don’t know me very well, wanderlust and impulsiveness describe my approach to training for most of the calendar year. So when Stew offered me an opportunity for masochistic spontaneity, of course I accepted. Now my entire week revolves around my quality time with Stew on Saturdays. My current weekly split looks something like this.

 

 

Monday– Competition Squat
Tuesday– Competition Bench
Wednesday/Thursday– Competition Deadlift (On one of those days depending on how I feel)
Friday– Secondary Bench
Saturday– Secondary Squat (AKA fun with Stew)
Sunday– Supplemental/Accessories/Conditioning
In the first squat session, Stew and I both hit 335 for our top set of 10. We both felt good about it. It was an honorable starting point. Afterward, we talked about possible strategies for jumps in the coming weeks that made sense and wouldn’t put us in the hospital.
In the second session, we threw strategy out of the window and made a huge jump to 375 for our top set of 10. We were a rocket ship. Nothing could stop us. We felt like we were going to continue getting stronger forever.
In the third session, we were rudely awakened from our pleasant fantasy, and we reluctantly acknowledged that we live in the real world. What a bummer. Stew had worked a ridiculous amount of hours that week, but did he let that stop him? No. He forced improvement when none seemed up for grabs by wrapping his knees and hitting 385 for his top set of 10. I also did 385…for only 4 reps.
After my disappointing performance, I relegated myself to the corner of the gym and let the strong people squat on the monolifts. Since I couldn’t reach anything heavy, I decided to drop down and hit 335 for 6 sets of 10. If I can’t push the weight, I usually just put in work.
After safety squats, we usually do some tempo high bar squats, but I opted out since I was doing more with the safety. After the tempo squats, Stew did a ton of belt squats, lunges, and probably some other stuff while I was lying on the ground, delirious and sweaty, wondering what year it was. This has been a common theme while training with Stew.
After three weeks of this block of training, this is my professional analysis…it’s been a lot of fun. Can’t wait for next week.

Banishing the Summer Bod Myth

It’s here, y’all!!!

It’s something we’ve all been anxiously waiting for through months, treacherously cold, snowy, and blustery months. Yeah, it did technically snow last week but SPRING IS OFFICIALLY HERE. And Spring means Summer is basically here too. And Summer means bathing suits, beaches, the Bucco’s, beers & barbecues!

Summer can also bring the harsh realization that maaaaaaybe you’ve put on a few winter hibernation pounds. With that realization begins the Internet splurging, looking for ideas and last ditch efforts on how to achieve that ideal “Summer Bod”. We all know the image that comes to mind too— gorgeously tan with chiseled abs and a rock hard, toned body, glistening with summer dew morning mist.

Let me be the first to say it— We MUST banish this perfect “Summer Bod” myth! This unrealistic expectation of ourselves to somehow transform into an Instagram Fitness Model/God/Goddess overnight should be forever banned! Instead, I propose to shoot for a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain throughout the year!

Here are 3 easy ways to help you banish the Summer Bod myth:

1. Look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I accept and love my body”.

Don’t skip this step! Self-acceptance is the best & fastest route to a better you. A healthy life starts with a healthy mind and attitude. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel once you begin to accept yourself just as you are.

2. Set year-round realistic goals and aspirations for yourself.

Whether it’s to run a local 5K, be able to squat your bodyweight or to simply be able to function through day to day routines, set a goal (and a reward) that is both achievable and realistic. And don’t feel the need to stop at just one goal, keep a list of things you want to accomplish and a realistic time frame to get them done.

3. Find a way to make fitness fun!

Not everyone loves to snatch a barbell over their heads. Not everyone loves to run. Not everyone loves to spin. And that’s ok! Find something you do love, something that makes you feel accomplished or something that fills you with joy (or at least perhaps the least amount of dread!). Haven’t found it yet? Just keep searching, I promise there’s something out there with your name on it.

Here at Union Fitness, we know living a healthy lifestyle year-round isn’t easy! So we are here for you step by step, class by class, meal by meal, and goal by goal.

Lean, Mean & Green

Lean, Mean & Green

Finding Balance

St. Patrick’s Day will soon be upon us, and if you live in Pittsburgh like us, the annual parade (their website is taking be back to the early days of the internet) is tomorrow, March 11th. If you plan on celebrating your Irish heritage but want to dial back on the debauchery, try to find balance between your healthy habits and having a good time. We’ve compiled some tips that have been helpful for us, and recipes & drinks that we like to indulge in from time to time.

First thing’s first, get a morning workout in. Union Fitness opens at 8am on the weekends. Shower in our facilities, and we’re only a 10-minute walk from downtown. Get those extra steps in, you’ll feel much better about those beers you’re going to consume later! If you can’t make it to the gym tomorrow, come to our happy hour yoga class tonight, it happens every Friday!

Don’t go hungry. If there’s a plate of corned beef hash with your name on it, fill up on the cabbage first. Cabbage is low in calories and will help you feel fuller, longer. Cabbage is a member of the brassica family of veggies that includes broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflowers. Indulge in the classics but keep portion sizes in the back of your mind. Eat slowly and savor each bite.

Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more. Follow the tried and true rule of alternating alcoholic beverages with a glass of water.

Now what to guzzle down all day? Believe it or not, Guinness is not nearly as bad as people think, it’s dark color and heavy body do not mean it’s higher in calories. Twelve ounces of Guinness has 125, which is comparable to many light beers.

If you’re hosting your own party, try out some of these cocktails:

Jameson Jell-o Shots (35 calories per shot)

Jello Shots

Ingredients:
3 small (.30 oz) packages Jell-o Sugar Free Gelatin
24 ounces Water (Boiling)
9 ounces Water (Cold)
15 ounces Jameson (Cold)
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice from a fresh lime
Green Food Coloring or Dye

Place fresh mint leaves in a small dish. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Using a muddle stick or a wooden spoon, press down on the leaves and twist. Repeat the action several times until the mint leaves release oil and smell minty. Set aside.

Mix the Jell-o mix and muddled mint leaves, with the boiling water until the powder is fully dissolved. Strain mint leaves.

Add the Cold water, 20 drops of green dye, or until you get the color you desire, and Jameson. Pour the cooling mixture into 28 plastic shot glasses. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until fully set.

Skinny Margarita (145calories)

Margarita

Ingredients:
To rim the glass: kosher salt, lime wedge
1 1/2 oz silver tequila (about 3 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon light agave nectar (add 2 if you prefer a sweeter margarita)
Ice

Rim the glass: Pour a thin layer of salt onto a small plate. Rub a lime wedge around the top edge of your glass, then dip the glass into the salt, and twist. Fill the glass with ice and set aside.
Fill a small cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, and agave. Close and shake energetically until you feel the shaker start to get cold and frost over. Strain into the rimmed glass over the ice.

Spicy BLT Green Bloody Marys

Bloody Mary

We can take credit for this delish take on a Bloody Mary, but we insist on giving it a try if you’re hosting a breakfast or brunch. This particular cocktail requires a little extra work and motivation, but it’s worth it! Plus, bacon is added to the mix – a little protein never hurt anyone.

Remember that moderation is key. Drink smarter, stay hydrated, watch your portions and be safe out there!

Dolce Diet Week 2: CHEATER

Dolce Diet Week 2: CHEATER

 

Week 2:

 

Change is hard.  Ok, so I have a confession. I’m about to be as honest as Usher in the early 00’s right now. You know Eco Bistro right? Well on Thursday’s they have a Pittsburgh steak salad special. Although I grew up in Pittsburgh, I don’t have too many distinct Pittsburgh characteristics. I don’t speak Pittsburghese. I can barely name the three rivers. I’ve never had an Iron City beer. I’m not a Steelers fan, or Penguins, or what’s our other team again? BUT— I LOVE, and I’m talking an unhealthy-obsession-type-LOVE of French-fries on my salads. Lots of them. The more the better. I embrace this part of my Pittsburgh heritage wholeheartedly. Anyway, back to my confession. On Thursday, I broke from the Dolce Diet to indulge in one of those glorious Pittsburgh salads, with extra fries. (GASP!) The worst part? My coworkers managed to get photographic proof (see below). I was caught red handed.

So yeah, I had something not so healthy. I “cheated” on my diet. Did I punish myself with endless, sweaty hours on the treadmill? Nope. The elliptical? Nope. Did I starve myself for the rest of the day to make up for it? Not a chance. Did I at least berate myself a little bit, maybe lament at my inability to stick to the plan? Never. What did I do then? I smirked at my coworkers and enjoyed my French-fries topped with lettuce. The end.

You see, if you know me or have ever come to one of my classes, you hear me talk about balance a lot. And not just necessarily in yoga poses when we balance on our heads. It applies to life too, including our well thought out diet and training plans. Balance is key because we are HUMANS, and we are vastly imperfect. We can’t always stick to the perfect plan. We can’t always be perfect parents or perfect friends or perfect exercisers. We can, however, balance it all out at the end. So, if you had something unhealthy, balance it out with some extra veggies. If you lost your temper and yelled at your kids, give them some extra kisses and snuggles. If you thought negatively about yourself, look in the mirror and say something kind.

I strive for balance but when days like this Thursday (read: French Fry Indulging) roll around, it’s important to leave the guilt and judgement out of it. There is no space in the Dolce Diet, or my life, for demeaning thoughts or feelings of shame. Practice kindness. Practice balance. So, for now, I’m back to my regularly scheduled Dolce Diet plan as I try not to tip the scales too far into French-fry land…until next Thursday, then all bets are off!