Tag Archives: Goals

Toria’s Trip

Hello! I’m one of the new kids here at UF. I wanted to introduce myself and share a little bit of my story with you all. So… 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 am currently an Exercise Physiologist at a research lab at the University of Pittsburgh, and a desk worker/soon to be trainer at UF. Now that you know my education and work background, let’s get into the fun stuff. 

 

When I was a student in college, I had gained just about 50 lbs over the course of those few years from being lazy and unmotivated. I believe I gained 25 of those 50 lbs 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 lose the weight. I would eat fast food and drink pop (or “soda” for you oddballs out there) literally all of the time. I don’t think I really even knew what a vegetable tasted like. My physical and mental health both went down a steep hill. 

 

A little over a year ago, my doctor ordered a blood test because of the rapid weight gain and how badly I had been feeling. The test revealed that I had abnormally high LDL cholesterol levels (LDL = the “bad” cholesterol). At the age of 22 it definitely isn’t normal to have high cholesterol with no history of it in my family. Since I’m young it doesn’t seem like a huge concern, but I sure was scared for my future health. Not long after that news, I discovered 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 ended up bringing my cholesterol levels down, losing all of that extra weight I had gained in college, gaining some solid muscle mass and a lot of confidence along the way. When I first started out, I could barely do a few pushups even from my knees and that extra weight I was carrying put a lot of stress on my joints. Now I can exercise with no pain, do movements I wasn’t able to before, and I feel great while doing it.    

 

I found a love and passion for exercise, and I realized that it’s something I will never give up on unless something crazy were to happen to me. Exercise is truly one of the greatest things on this earth. To be able to physically perform and experience what it can do to you is definitely a blessing as not everyone in this world is able to. On this journey I have learned that fitness is not about being better than someone else, it’s 100% about being better than YOU used to be. If you put even just a little bit of focus on yourself and your physical/mental health progress, it can truly go a long way. I hope my story helps you realize and remember that even with some of the setbacks that come throughout life, you can do anything you put your mind and body to!

 

Stay healthy friends!

 

Toria

Now That’s NEAT!

“Low energy flux, but not energy surplus, predicted future increases in body fat. Furthermore, high energy flux appeared to prevent fat gain in part because it was associated with a higher resting metabolic rate.”
-Hume et. al 2016

 

I often share this advice as one of the most actionable items for a fat loss client. Daily movement can be the secret weapon in achieving your fat loss goals. We are designed to move as humans, and we should be moving often. However, today’s society tries to make us move less and make life even more convenient than how it was for our ancestors. What’s worse, when we are in a caloric deficit and trying to lose fat, our brains may try to fight against us and down-regulate movement since we are consuming less calories. We need to be conscious of our movement and make it a daily habit like brushing your teeth and bathing. You do those things, right? Right?

 

I’ve had this conversation quite frequently over the past months: “I’ve gained weight during COVID-19 despite continuing to train or keeping my diet the same. What should I do?” While there are many factors why this could be, a big culprit in many might be the loss of NEAT.

 

NEAT is roughly attributed to 15-20% of your total daily energy expenditure. NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating, or purposeful exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, household chores, and even fidgeting. If you had a job that required you to be on your feet prior to COVID-19 and now you are exiled to your couch, this can be why those pounds seem to be racking up.

 

Research by Shook et. al showed that a threshold for achieving energy balance occurred at an activity level corresponding to 7116 steps per day, an amount achievable by most adults. This research also showed that “the theory of the zone of regulation is important because it relates the accumulation of adipose tissue as not only occurring as a result of low amounts of energy expended but also that physical activity plays a regulatory role in the amount of energy consumed via appetite signals.” So what this means if that NEAT is low, you likely won’t be able to regulate your appetite and there’s a greater likelihood of storing fat. I hope this gives you closure knowing that there was always a deeper reason why you were diving headfirst into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s on a Sunday night. Blame it on your lack of NEAT, anyone?

 

As part of a daily checklist for my fat loss clients, I require them to perform 10,000 steps. Put on a podcast/audio book, call an old friend while walking, or simply enjoy your time to yourself while exploring a new route and become one with nature. If you are a busy professional, consider taking walking meetings or perform 10 -minute walks. A 10 minute walk every 60-90 minutes can do wonders for NEAT and will probably provide better mental focus as well. No matter how you choose to do it, my advice is the same: get up and get moving! 

 

References 

 

Hume, D. J., Yokum, S., & Stice, E. (2016). Low energy intake plus low energy expenditure (low energy flux), not energy surfeit, predicts future body fat gain. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 103(6), 1389-1396. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.127753

 

Shook, R. P., Hand, G. A., Drenowatz, C., Hebert, J. R., Paluch, A. E., Blundell, J. E., . . . Blair, S. N. (2015). Low levels of physical activity are associated with dysregulation of energy intake and fat mass gain over 1 year. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(6), 1332-1338. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.115360

What the World Needs is More Coaches

What does it mean to be a coach? On the surface a coach can be defined as someone who is helping an individual work towards achieving a goal. This is what most of us think of when we hear the term. However, as we go deeper, we will realize that coaching consists of much more. The ability to coach is within each of us, and it’s something that we need now more than ever.

 

I’ve spent the last 11 years of my life as a coach to athletes, kids, the elderly, and general population individuals. During that time, my focus has always been to first build a connection with each person, and then help them to unlock their full potential with the goal of being able to become their own coach in the future. With coaching, the goal should never be to want people to rely on you in order to achieve those things, but rather possess the ability to learn on their own, and then to pass on those lessons which they have learned throughout the process. In my opinion, this is the true definition of a coach. 

 

The more experienced I become within my career, the more I realize that these actions go far beyond working in a performance setting, but rather a universal setting. In my opinion, coaching is not confined to a certain group of trained professionals, but anyone who has learned from their life’s lessons, and is willing to pass them onto others for the greater good of humanity. Each of us has a skill that distinguishes one person from another. We can use those abilities and skills to help coach others to work towards a better, more knowledgable version of theirselves. I strongly believe that this is the ultimate goal of life. It’s what we are here to do. Today, we need quality coaches more than ever. So, ask yourself “How can I help, and what things have I learned that I can pass onto others to help them become a better version of who they are?”. If we can all do this, we will be great.

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!