Tag Archives: member spotlight

Member Spotlight, Matt Wylie

I grew up in a small town called Chippewa which is very close to Beaver Falls, PA. I graduated from Edinboro University and after living in the Strip District and Bellevue, I now reside in Mt Washington with my fiancé, 6 year old son, and a miniature dachshund named Finn. Since graduating college in 2011, I’ve been an active musician for a little over a decade. I’ve played guitar in a lot of original bands and have done just about every genre of cover band that you can think of from 80s, 90s, nu metal (a gig’s a gig, right?), and everything in between.


My professional background is in sales and I work as an Account Executive for a SaaS company based out of Boston, MA where we offer financial planning & analysis automation solutions. I get to work remote 100% of the time and haven’t met an actual coworker in about 3 years.


Union Fitness has become my home away from home since I began my fitness journey. I started in February of 2021 and didn’t have a clear goal in mind but I knew that I wanted to get into great shape and make positive lifestyle changes.  I am the type of person that needs to be learning something and to have the ability to apply it in order to stay motived. With the help of my old buddy CeJ (T-luv, Tito, Uncle Tito, etc) he introduced me to the #powerful classes and the other fantastic trainers here at UF. I hadn’t even looked at a weight in about a decade and I had never done a squat or deadlift a day in my life prior to this so we truly started from the bottom. The #powerful classes created a positive environment for me to be able to learn how to lift properly and the workouts created by the instructors will get anybody going towards where they want to be. The results I’ve seen in the gym have been great, but the results outside the gym have been massive in my personal and professional life.


Fun facts:


  1. A self proclaimed beer connoisseur (this is why we’re here).
  2. Learned to play guitar by taking formal jazz lessons and by learning songs from my favorite metal bands.
  3. Played hockey from childhood to end of high school.
  4. I like all foods and I like to cook a lot at home – avid griller.


Thank you to T(CeJ), Curtis, Dave Jackson, Dahveed, Todd, and all of the other great people at UF!



Member Spotlight

Here at UF we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CJ climb the incline like King Kong, he will shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!


This week we’d like to shout out Hannah Miers.


Ladies & Gents, here is Hannah in her own words!


“I grew up in Elkhart, IN. I went to college at Indiana university then moved to Pittsburgh right after graduation. My Bachelors degree is in event management but had a career change right before the pandemic and am now an esthetician. My Fav lift is probably squats. The  reason I train is to feel strong/healthy physically and mentally. My favorite thing about Union is the coaches and the fun classes, plus I’ve learned so so much about lifting since I started coming to class.


If I had to pick a Celeb workout crew, it would be J.Lo for sure, Jen Aniston , and Kim K.


My favorite food, well I could prob eat Mexican food everyday and Margs of course. -Han”

If you see Hannah around the gym, please say hi!

Member Spotlight..TIM BICKERTON

Here at UF we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CJ climb the incline like King Kong, he will shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!


This week we’d like to shout out Tim Bickerton.


Ladies & Gents, here is Tim in his own words!


Hey Union Fam! I’m Tim and I’m originally from Beaver County. After a few years in NYC and DC, I boomeranged back to Pittsburgh and have been here ever since. I’m proud to be part of Pittsburgh’s growing robotics community as an Engineering Operations Manager at Seegrid.


I’ve had an on/off (mostly off) relationship with fitness throughout my life and in 2017, after pouring my heart into a startup that was acquired, I decided it was time for a change. I joined Union and began training with the OG himself, Marco Rigazio. Marco taught me all the fundamentals of the big 3 lifts, had me push around heavy sleds and even taught me some boxing workouts. I was hooked. And the Saturday CardioLab classes kept me moving. I’ve trained with many of Union’s personal trainers for nearly 4 years now, and I’m thankful for the friendships I’ve built with each of them. I’m proud to say that with the training and advice I’ve received from everyone at Union Fitness, I’ve dropped 60 pounds and put on a lot of muscle since that first day I walked into the gym. I finally know what CeJ means by “getting bumpy”!


My favorite lift is the deadlift mainly because it’s grown from probably my weakest lift to one of my strongest (thanks Sumo!). There’s just something awesome about lifting something heavy off the floor. I set a goal last year to compete for the first time in my life at the Iron City Open. I had to put that on pause due to the pandemic, but I’m excited to say that I’m competing this year. I look forward to seeing y’all on the platform in June.


My celebrity training new would consist of Kumail Nanjiani (seriously, have you seen this dude lately?), Chris Pratt and Joe Manganiello, all of whom have undergone their own awesome transformations over the past few years. One fun fact about me is that I’ve been doing improv comedy since 2012, most recently on a musical improv team (making up scenes AND songs), and have also done stand-up comedy. If you dig through YouTube enough, you may just find a recording of me on stage!


If you see me around the gym, please say hi! I’m always looking to meet new people and connect with familiar faces.

Member Spotlight; Jacki Temple


  • Grew up: near Charleston, SC, as a Navy and Air Force brat; Moved to Pittsburgh in 2004
  • Career: First as a graphic designer (15 years); currently a full-time artist (paintings and drawings)
  • Volunteer: (a lot) with Team Rubicon, a veteran-based disaster response organization
  • Sports: Runner for 29 years, hiker for 20 years, curler for 14 years
  • Trivia: I drink black tea from the British Isles (mostly Welsh and Irish) like a fiend. Seriously, I can’t survive without it. Must have milk and honey. Accompanied by toast is even better.




I started competing in cross-country and track in 1989, at the age of 13. As I was graduating from high school, I was awarded a cross-country and track scholarship to Wofford College (Spartanburg, SC), which at the time was a NCAA-Div II school in the Southern Conference. One season into my scholarship, Wofford became a Division I school. After college, I kept running for enjoyment, health, and mental health, often competing in local and regional 5k, 10k, and half-marathon races. In total, I ran for 29 years, until 2018.


In 2004, I moved to Pittsburgh with my first husband, who is Canadian. In 2006 and again in 2010, we hiked 80 miles across the highlands in Scotland. In 2007, when he found a local ice rink that offered men’s league hockey, he noticed curling rings painted into the ice. Having grown up in Canada, he knew all about curling and thought it would be hilarious to get his Southern wife out on the ice. I fell in love with the game, and it turns out I’m a better curler than he is. After our divorce in 2010, he stopped playing, but I have continued to play and regularly travel to regional and national competitions. In 2016, I led a team of fairly green curlers to a bronze medal in nationals.


In 2011, I met and start dating Thad Fields, who is also a UF member. In January 2013, he became interested in Olympic weightlifting, and asked me if I’d be interested in training alongside him. By April, we found a coach and started training. By the end of April, my back had gotten too big for my wedding dress, and with the wedding upcoming in June, I had to quit Oly and just stick to running and jumping rope so I could lose enough bulk to fit into my dress.


In spring 2015, a close friend asked if I’d train with him for the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge. I was hooked after finishing the whole thing, and I trained for and attempted it each year through 2018. Unfortunately, starting in 2015, unknown underlying knee problems started making themselves known, and the saga with my knees started. For the first couple of years, my orthopedic doctor at the time just prescribed cortisone shots and physical therapy because he didn’t think the issues were serious. By the training season of 2018, however, I could barely walk and running was out of the question. By this time, I’d begun seeing a new orthopedic doc, and he identified the real issues. My kneecaps had been so out of alignment for so long, the cartilage on the back had been worn down to bone, and I needed surgery. The first of 4 surgeries on my knees occurred in June 2018, and my most recent one took place in January of this year. 


Constantly going through surgery and recovery for the past 2.5 years has been brutal. Being sidelined as a lifelong athlete is an emotional, physical, and mental challenge unlike anything else I’ve ever faced. That’s ultimately why I chose Union Fitness. I knew I needed more than just physical therapy twice a week if I wanted to get back to being an athlete. I knew I needed a trainer who understood my goals and ambitions, but who also understood the mental struggle that goes along with this journey I’m on. By the summer of 2019, Thad had already been a member of UF and training with Ethan Raese for over a year. I knew how much Thad loved UF, so when I went in for my consultation to get set up with a trainer, the person interviewing me recommended Ethan be my trainer as well. Working with him for the past almost 2 years has been incredible. He tailors my workouts with the things I’m doing in physical therapy, and I’ve recovered from my surgeries faster than expected because of the work I do with him. And he’s great at encouraging me or pushing me when I need it.

Member Spotlight

Union, we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CeJ climb the incline like King Kong, and shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!


This week we’d like to shout out Josh Conroy .


Ladies & Gents, here is the what is about, Conroy in his own words.


“What’s up everyone! My name is Josh, I’m 34 and I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and currently live in Oakdale. I work for Colussy Chevrolet in Bridgeville (which is the oldest Chevy dealership in the country) where I work in the service department.


Why I started training is like most people, I found my health declining due to being extremely lazy with poor eating habits. Shortly after turning 30 I thought I had a heart attack, thankfully I didn’t but it was what I needed to light a fire and make a change.


My father was really the reason behind me getting into lifting. He was as strict as you can be with nutrition and training. He always wanted me to better myself and always looked out for my health. So I joined the gym down from his house so we could train together and I could follow his guidance, unfortunately he passed away too soon due to cancer. He always told me to find something I’m passionate about and I did that with powerlifting.


After about a year of weight training, I stumbled into powerlifting. I started to bench press, squat then deadlift. I really enjoyed it. I became more serious with wanting to progress and I joined a dedicated powerlifting gym in Pittsburgh at Celli’s Fitness. I learned to love training, being strong and seeing what the human body is capable of. After they closed to move to a new location I found myself looking for a place to train as I was prepping for USPA Nationals and I decided Union was the place for me. Since joining Union I feel like I found a home, everyone here welcomed me with open arms and that was greatly appreciated as I’m someone who hates change. While I love training and competing, I have met some of the best people in the gym and consider many of them family.


My favorite lift is forever changing and really depends on the day, currently I’d say deadlifts would be my favorite. Some lifts I’ll never forget are my first 3 plate bench and first 600 pound squat and deadlift. Some of my training goals would be 405 bench, 650 squat and 700 deadlift. But the main goal is to stay healthy and continue making progress so I can get back on the platform later this year.


If I were to build my ultimate celebrity training crew I think I’d definitely have Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan brother!


My friends would describe be as someone who is loyal, sarcastic, personable and selfless.


Being a bigger guy it’s obvious I like to eat. If I could eat one type of food for the rest of my life it would definitely be hibachi!


Since I’m a larger dude I’d say if I were any piece of equipment at Union I’d be the leg press, monolift or belt squat.


My PR song would be BMF by Rick Ross! This song always gets me hyped.


If you ever see me in the gym come say hi and feel free to reach out if you need a hand!”


Thank you Big Josh Conroy for being a great member of our gym community!




Member Spotlight

Here at UF we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CJ climb the incline like King Kong, he will shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!


This week we’d like to shout out Jessie Theisen.


Ladies & Gents, here is Jessie in her own words.


“I grew up in central California (where the cows overpopulate the people) in a small town called Visalia, however, I was born at Fort Bragg, NC (military brat- dad was 20 years 82nd Airborne and mom a marine). After spending the majority of my childhood in central CA, at 19 I picked up and moved to LA in 2008 where I lived there intermittently through 2016 (moved to PGH with my then boyfriend, now husband summer of 2016). Of my past lives, the most interesting is probably the opportunity I had as a professional makeup artist working in film, runway, magazines, commercials and doing everything from beauty makeup to special effects/gore (the latter was the most fun)! I was a professional makeup artist for the 8 year stint I was in LA.


For my current work, I am a team lead for a group of loan analysts at a financial tech company called LendingHome (they specialize in mortgages for people who fix and flip houses)- my team helps process that product, attempting to locate any process/design flaws and work with our engineering team to better perfect it. In short, it’s a fancy customer service job. I love the people I work with and can’t imagine being anywhere else anytime soon.


My training background really starts with Union Fitness. I was never the sporty or athletic type- I was a band nerd who could play Sweet Child O’ Mine on 5 different instruments while marching in a god-awful wool suit (feather and all). I would always strive to find ways to be active, though; I just never really landed on what worked for me. Took everything from cardio barre, to pilates, yoga, I just didn’t fit in any of those spaces. My drive and motivation quickly waned until I found UF, where they encouraged people of all athletic abilities to pick up a weight, and put it down, and pushed to do the same the following day/week, only heavier. THIS.WAS.MY. SHIT. Attending the #powerful classes on a regular was therapeutic for me. There were stents where I was going 5-6 days a week, sometimes two-a-days. It wasn’t even just the workouts anymore, it was the community of people who went to the same classes, continuing to build each other up and cheer each other on in their small(or big) victories. A place of misfits that I could call my own; UF is home to where I’ve made some of my closest friends. I’m grateful to the atmosphere it has cultivated and maintained from its origination until now.


The fun shit:

  1. If I could eat one food every day it’d be a cold-cut turkey sandwich (you’re free to DM me on particulars), I’m a fanatic and those close to me know it, there’s a certain consistency to the bread, color combo of the mayo and mustard together, a particular type of ground oregano- there’s an art to it, I promise; to which I must add, PITTSBURGH! Stop heating that shit up and putting fries on it…. STOP THAT SHIT! STOP IT RIGHT NOW!
  2. If I was a piece of equipment at Union, I’d probably be the EliteEFTS PRO, short monster mini band (yeah, the small green one) – functional, small, sturdy, pain in the ass.
  3. I’m competing in my first ever bodybuilding competition this May 8th. Signed up last March a week before Covid shut everything down- (original show meant to be last Oct). I have gone through 2 cuts now, and 2 refeeds. What was originally meant to be a 6 month prep will be 14 after all is said and done. I’m f’n jazzed to get on stage and have one of them cold-cuts mentioned under #1 right after!
  4. The most under-rated candy is Chewy Sprees.
  5. I have only ever owned pitbull dogs as pets; they’re the biggest derpsters and I love everything about them. I have a black and white named Trouble; I would die for her.
  6. Oh, fave exercise:  deadlifts.”


Thank you, Jessie for being a great member of our community!




Member Spotlight; Wardy

Union, we love our members so much it’s time we show you off and have CJ climb the incline like King Kong, and shout your presence from atop of the highest point of Mt. Washington!


This week we’d like to shout out Ward Stanford.


Ladies & Gents, here is the what is about, Wardy in his own words.


“I grew up in northeastern PA near Binghamton, NY. I’m not a native Yinzer but I moved here after living in a few different cities in PA, NY, and NJ to settle. I’m a Talent Manager for a Water Engineering company so I’m basically in charge of hiring people and keeping them happy. I’ve been doing Human Resources for my whole career. I’ve been training pretty seriously for about 6 years, I started doing some resistance training as part of a weightloss journey. I was obese from childhood through my later 20’s and decided after being over 400 pounds that I needed to change my life. I fell in love with the strength training side of exercise because it was truly a way to build myself and add something to my life that made me feel more confident. I still train that way to this day, focusing on just being muscular, strong and healthy for myself, I don’t compete in anything, I just train for me. I chose Union Fitness because it seemed like the best environment for me to do that. The variety of equipment and implements and supportive atmosphere made it easy for me to feel like I had a safe place to train anyway I wanted to and explore areas of fitness that you can’t really do in a gym with more specialization.  I love deadlifting and doing weighted carries for examples and finding a gym where I can do both of those things, inside or outside, and also use a treadmill and a preacher curl machine is extremely rare.”


A little more about Ward:


  1.  If Ward could lift with any President it would be Teddy Roosevelt. Our lift would be bully.
  2. Favorite PR song is Slaves and Bulldozers by Soundgarden. If you time the lift during the high note an angel lifts the bar for you.
  3. I have an entire Wall in my home dedicated to David Bowie.
  4. Shorts can never be short enough for me.
  5. Ward loves spicy food and will always try the ridiculous hot thing on a menu that will inevitably make him cry.
  6. Ward is a believer in the importance of a bigger picture of health so he advocates for therapy, meditation, stress management, philosophy, and mindfulness to support all of the physical and nutritional things we do for ourselves.
  7. If Ward was a character on a tv show he would be some combination of Patrick from Schitt’s Creek and Terry from Brooklyn 99.
  8. Ward is a much nicer in person than he looks, He is much friendlier than his face would seem
  9. Thank you Ward for being a great member of our gym community!