Tag Archives: motivation

Let’s Ride and Make the World a Better Place

The week for our bike ride is upon us!

 

As you have probably seen we are hosting a bike ride fundraiser. We are excited as this is something new to Union Fitness. The ride is called “Bike Ride for Black Lives.” All funds raised will be donated to the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

 

FAQ

 

What are the ride options?

 

We are hosting a 10, 30 and 50 mile ride.

 

What are the routes?

 

We will have maps available the day of the ride.

 

The ten mile ride will leave Nova Place, ride to the Northside trail and follow the trail beside the Allegheny River and back to Nova Place.

 

The thirty mile ride will cross into town, then catch the Great Allegheny Passage and ride up past the waterfront and back (it will end at about Kennywood).

 

The fifty miler will follow a similar route to the thirty except follow the GAP past Mckeesport.

 

How do I register?

 

Click here and scroll down to Saturday. The ride is listed as one of our “classes.” This “class” is free to anyone (member or non-member of UF).

 

How do I donate?

 

All donations are taking place through our go fund me page, click here for that site. 

 

What time does the ride start?

10 mile family fun ride. This ride will leave UF at 10:30 AM with registration at 10 AM.

30 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 9:30 with registration at 9 AM.

50 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 8:30 with registration at 8 AM.

 

Will there be rest stops?

 

For the 30 and 50 mile rides we will have a support crew at the waterfront. They will have water, gatorade and snacks.

 

Let’s Roll.

Team UF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State of the Union

Summer is quickly coming to a close and we are preparing to spend more time indoors. With the change of season we feel it is important to discuss a few different things. First we want to be sure everyone feels comfortable training in a safe environment.  We also want to show all of you other projects we are working on to make us not just a stronger community but also a better community.

 

In August we began an assessment of the gym and of our services. We have had a questionnaire at the desk for over a month now. Over 50 members responded and most comments were positive. What we did learn is that keeping a clean and safe environment is very important to all of our members. We take this very serious, and have been running through cleaning products quite fast. We are doing our best to not only make sure the facility is clean, but to also make sure everyone feels comfortable. Please tell us when you see any issue that makes you feel unsafe.

 

As you have probably seen we have done our best leaving doors open and moving outside for as many activities as possible. We will continue to do this as the weather permits. Let’s hope it stays warm so we can continue to be outside. Once the weather changes and we can no longer move outside we will review how many people are permitted in the gym (this has not been an issue yet). We are hoping that everyone can continue to work together to make us the best gym in Pittsburgh and the safest.

 

Return of the podcast.

 

We now have our own recording studio. With the help of one of our awesome members and local podcast host Josh Elsass we set up a recording studio and we are going to return to recording weekly podcasts. These podcasts can be found on all your podcast apps and is called the Union Fitness Podcast. While you are at it check out the numerous podcasts that Josh hosts.

 

Bike ride time.

 

We are hosting a bike ride on Sept 26th (special thanks to Jessie Theisen). The ride will benefit Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh. We are asking for donations through our go fund me site and you can sign up on using MindBody app or through our website. The details are below and here is the link for donations.

 

 

Date: Saturday, Sept 26th

 

Location: Union Fitness

 

Ride Options: 10 mile family fun ride. This ride will leave UF at 10:30 AM with registration at 10 AM.

30 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 9:30 with registration at 9 AM.

50 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 8:30 with registration at 8 AM.

 

Other updates.

 

After our review we also discussed our classes and how we can improve the experience for you the member. We will be adding some free classes for all members until the end of the year (watch for an announcement), we are also going adjust our schedule slightly. As always if you see something that does not work for you please communicate that to us.

 

We are also beginning an instagram meet the staff series. Every Thursday you will see a short video highlighting one of our staff members. Hopefully this will introduce some of you to our amazing team here at UF.

 

As always feedback is welcome. If you every have any issues in the gym please contact Todd Hamer todd@unionfitness.com and feel free to give us the good, the bad and the ugly. We are here to serve you.

 

Todd Hamer

 

 

 

 

9/11 Our Remembrance

As most people who have lived through a terrorist attack on their county I will never forget where I was on 9/11/2001. I was a grad student sitting in a sport law course at Virginia Commonwealth University. We had a guest professor that day in class and as he discussed tort our professor walked back into the room and said, “Go home and call your families, we are under attack.” These words will never leave my head and each year that passes I remember how I felt that day.

 

Everyone handles situations like this differently. Most of my classmates went down to a local sandwich shop and watched the news. I am different and didn’t want to be around people so I went to the weight room and trained. I am one of the few people who caught up with everything later. I do not know if what I did was cowardice or me avoiding this horror of the moment. What I do know is 9/11/2001 always had an impact on me and I have visited each of the crash sites numerous times and every time confusion is the biggest emotion I have in that moment.

 

In honor as a tribute to each of the 2,996 humans who perished on that day I have been asking people here at Union Fitness to tell me what 9/11 means to them. Here are some of the words and phrases that I heard today.

 

“Never Forget.”

“Honor.”

“Never take a day for granted.”

“Sad.”

“Powerful.”

“Unifying.”

“Remembrance.”

“Tragic.”

“Scared.”

“Confusion.”

 

These words are a good reminder for of us as a society. The one that stands out the strongest to me is confusion. To this day what happened is still confusing to most of us and that is OK. We just hope that through all of this confusion we can help support you and each other.

 

Remember United We Stand.

 

Todd Hamer and Team UF

 

 

Questions of Command

The best Commanding Officer I ever had no idea how to do his job. Or at least that’s what he told us. 

 

Over a few week period the entire Air Wing had seen a spat of deaths, some suicides, some motor vehicle accidents, training accidents; one of the suicides had come from one of our line squadrons. Nothing was his fault, he was a great commander, smart, attentive, organized, compassionate. But sometimes that’s not enough. 

 

He gathered the entire group command in the staff conference room, hundreds of years of military experience, leadership, and know-how gathered around a grand oak table with my C.O. at the head of the table. 

 

“I don’t know what I’m doing” he said after a long silence. “I could do all of your jobs” he said smiling looking out at his squadron commanders. “I know how to lead flights, organize schedules, make sure the birds stay up – but I don’t know what to do about this”. 

 

There is a powerful mental state called “Imposter syndrome”. In its most basic form is the belief that one’s own skill, knowledge, abilities are less than what others around you view them as – simply put, you’re an imposter. You might have years of experience at a job be viewed by your peers, bosses, and employees as a total expert but in the back of your head you know that you’re just fooling them all… and yourself. 

 

There is another syndrom of sorts that is also worth examining –  the “Dunning Kruger Effect”. This effect has gotten some notoriety in past years as the wealth of knowledge easily accessible to anyone with a smart phone has grown. essentially , you learn enough to think you know everything when in fact you don’t even know enough to know how little you know

 

“I don’t know what to do about this” – vulnerability is a powerful thing. When leaders, especially good leaders, are able to be vulnerable in front of those they are charged to command it creates a powerful thing – faith. After my commander finished, every soul in that room believed in him more than ever. We believed in him because we knew that he was telling the truth. 

 

Now, I don’t know for a fact that my CO viewed himself as an imposter, but the dogged way he worked to prove he was the real deal might be an important indicator. I also cannot confirm that he ever fell victim to the dunning kruger effect but, anecdotally, most young aviators view themselves as invincible hot shots (TOP GUN if you will). However, with every extra hour in the cockpit they discover just how much more they need to learn. At some point, these two conflicting states of mind reached a convergence for my CO.  He came out the other side a wiser, better leader.

 

It’s the same in coaches. I myself am still headed towards this convergent point. In good moments of confidence I see in myself what others say they see in me – but often I don’t. I at least know that I don’t even know how much I don’t know  – that’s a start. So how do we work through these diametrically opposed forces? I think vulnerability is a good place to start. 

 

Sport coaches, or at least NBA basketball coaches seem to be catching on to the power of vulnerability. In the book The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle he discusses the first day of practice with the San Antonio Spurs and the legendary coach Gregg Popovich. Pop (as he’s commonly referred to) is a man who has been at the top of his field for decades. Seen by peers, players, and the media as a prime example of what a winning coach is. Yet he begins every season by acknowledging his fears of letting his team down, not being a good enough coach, and not being able to meet his players expectations. Vulnerability in action to bring a team together, to level the playing field (or court) so to say. What this unlocks is a level of trust and understanding in all directions that incubates a culture of success. 

 

For too long, barbarized examples of masculine strength have dominated the world of athletics, whether on the field or in a weight room. I know I have gone down this road many times myself. But another NBA coach, Golden State’s Steve Kerr sees another path to victory through vulnerability. “The whole point of competing is to be vulnerable…to lay it out on the line” Kerr said on a 2020 podcast. He links the need to play and compete with your full self; ego, fears, pride, self-consciousness, as essential to victory. And only through being openly vulnerable can our full selves be accountable to others. 

 

Dr. Brené Brown has spoken at great length about the power of vulnerability. Only by accessing and sharing the most fragile parts self can we really work to strengthen the whole. But as coaches and especially young coaches we’re faced with a conundrum. We are tasked with the welfare of young men and women (often not much younger than ourselves) we are asked to lead them and help them improve. We are told to project confidence, to be experts in our craft, to have the answers. But I am not always confident, I do not feel like an expert in my craft, and I do not have all the answers. “Vulnerability is not weakness” Dr. Brown says, “it’s the most accurate measure of courage”. In order to improve we have to investigate, acknowledge, and take ownership of how we need to grow.” 

 

I know I often feel like an imposter in the field of coaching. I don’t have the education background of those I look up to, I don’t have the years of experience of many of my peers, I worry that I won’t be able to make some of the sacrifices so many in this field have to make to advance. I also know I don’t know more than I can even imagine and this is at times almost paralyzing in its scale. The dueling states of “Impostor Syndrome” and “the Dunning Kruger Effect” is ever present – but I’m investigating it, learning to acknowledge it, and working to take ownership of my part in getting through it – I’m learning to be a more vulnerable coach. 

 

My CO said he didn’t know what to do. But he knew that being vulnerable with those other leaders in the room gave them permission to be vulnerable too. He knew that vulnerability from the top down built trust from the bottom up. And he knew that building that trust, while maybe not THE answer, was a start.

 

I don’t know what I’m doing – but telling you that is a start. 

 

 

1. Cuncic, A. (2020, May 1). What is Imposter Syndrom. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/imposter-syndrome-and-social-anxiety-disorder-4156469

2. Vandergriendt, C. (2020, May 15). The Dunning-Kruger Effect Explained. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/dunning-kruger-effect

 

 

 

Bike Ride for Black Lives

One of our goals at UF is to be better members of our community. With this in mind, we are going to host a fundraiser for Pittsburgh Urban League. I had attached the details for this fundraiser and are inviting each and every one of you to come out and have a fun day with us.

 

Date: Saturday, Sept 26th

 

Location: Union Fitness

 

Ride Options: 10 mile family fun ride. This ride will leave UF at 10:30 AM with registration at 10 AM.

30 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 9:30 with registration at 9 AM.

50 Mile Challenge. This ride will leave UF at 8:30 with registration at 8 AM.

 

If you wish to join us at this ride we are asking for a donation that for the Urban League of Pgh.

We also ask that you go to MindBody and sign up for the event through our MB site.

Here is the link for donations.

 

Thanks for reading and hopefully you will be able to come out and join us. We will be posting more details as we get closer.

 

Bike Ride for Black Lives

One of the goals here at UF is to reach out to the community and do our part to make this world of ours a better place. Keeping this in mind we will be hosting our first ever fundraising bicycle ride. The title of the ride is “Bike Ride for Black Lives. I have added the details of the bike ride. I would be remiss if I did not add that one of our members is the real reason this is happening.

 

Jessie Theisen is one of our awesome members and she approached me with this idea a few weeks ago. We immediately got to work to make this happen. I want to publicly thank Jessie and her husband Will for getting this started.

 

Details:

 

The ride will occur the weekend of Sept 26th. We are still deciding on whether we will ride on Saturday or Sunday. We are working with a few others groups to make this the best day possible so this decision will happen by the end of the week.

 

We are setting up a go fund me account to donate. All the money raised will go to, the Urban League of Pgh.

 

We are going to have 3 ride options ranging from 10-50 miles. We will have three different start times as well so that the riders doing the long rides will have more time to finish the ride.

 

Sign ups will be live at the beginning of September and will be handled through UF. If you want to involved as either a rider, volunteer or sponsor please reach out to me anytime.

 

Ride Strong!

Todd Hamer

Enjoy the Ride/State of the Union

Happiness Quotient (HQ) is the level of happiness one has achieved in their lifetime. How much happiness do you generally have in your life? This is a simple yet important question and in today’s blog I’d like to help you move your HQ up a notch or two. In addition to becoming happier you may even learn something about our cool little gym.

 

Most people are stuck at a certain level of happiness. If they won the lottery they would (within a year or two) fall back or climb back to where they were prior to being rich. On the flip side if they were to have a terrible accident, within a year or two they would return to approximately the same level of happiness they had prior to the accident. With a quick google search you will find a few books on this topic. I first read about this idea years ago and it changed my life, my training and my work. Decide how happy you want to be and then be that happy. I understand that I am writing these words during a major shift in our society. I believe that makes these words that much more important.

 

Union Fitness

 

I spent twenty years as a strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level. I have had the ability to work with olympians, pro-athletes and some of the finest humans I could have ever encountered. I truly enjoyed all of what I did as a strength coach and I am proud of what I did as a coach. When I took over at UF in October I was taking over an extremely successful gym that did not need an overhaul. I saw myself as the luckiest man around. Then a pandemic hit and we shut down. I tried to be proactive, we shut down a few days before others. I believed it was the right thing to do. Initially I thought it would be a few weeks and things would be back to normal. Well almost three months later we re-opened our doors. During those three months here are some things we did to try to keep our community together.

  1. We hosted over 200 online “classes.”
  2. We offered suspension, cancelation as well as deferring payments for anyone who asked.
  3. We lent our equipment out to anyone who asked (including non-members).
  4. We increased our blog posts to daily.
  5. We did the best job we could keeping in contact with our employees and members.
  6. There are a few other things we did that you’ll have to ask me to tell you. But, we tried to help.

 

This list is how we tried to keep some normalcy. When we returned our membership dropped about 35%. Since then we have tried to do what we can to ease people back into the gym. We have offered some free classes, outdoor activities and done our best to keep a clean and healthy training enviroment. I know for a fact even with all of our trying we failed some of our members, and I am not happy about failing anyone. Yet, I know we tried and that makes me rest well at night.

 

So let’s enjoy the ride together. Knowing that we have some members who are still suspended, some that have left us and others that are nervous to return, I have made you a short list of other groups you can try until you are ready to re-join us at UF. This is a list of companies in the area that host outdoor events and will be perfect to talk to while the weather is still warm, and when the cold returns and you are ready to come back inside come see us at the gym. Until then find ways in this strange time to raise your HQ.

 

  1. Stand up PGH
  2. Venture Outdoors
  3. Pittsburgh Parks
  4. Bike Pittsburgh
  5. Trail Pittsburgh

 

This is just a short list that I have either personally worked with or I know people who have. Go to their sites support local and enjoy the outdoors. When you are ready to return to the gym we will be here for you to come back inside. Unless you are training for a meet or a bodybuilding show then don’t worry about the weights they will be here when you return.

 

Until then raise that HQ and enjoy your ride, hike, walk or whatever.

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

UF Adventure Team

For those of you who couldn’t join us last Saturday we had a fun day of outdoor exercise and showed our new expansion (The Performance Lab). We here at UF are happy to be expanding our services to all of our members. One area I am hoping to see growth is our outdoor activities.

 

One of the events we had last weekend was the first ever UF bike ride. It was a small affair with 4 riders, but an active and fun group. We rode our bikes from here through the Northside and into the strip district for a nice tour of our fine city. The ride consisted of a few nice little climbs but nothing too bad.

 

I hope events such as this ride become a more normal activity here at UF. With all that we as a society have been through in the last three months let’s all try to get outside more. Find ways to connect with your community and see the beauty in the world. My challenge to UF is to find ways to be active, while remaining safe and healthy.

 

Thank you all for what you do, and if you have new ideas as to how we can get outside and be better people, neighbors and friends please tell us.

 

Peace and Love,

 

Todd Hamer

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