Tag Archives: Wellness

Welcome to the Spooky Season; Squatober

Tis the season for squats. 

 

Every October our friends at Sorinex celebrate October by asking friends to squat 4-5 times a week with them for the month. Squatober culminates in a PR party. I have made a quick FAQ about Squatober and how we are going to be involved and what cause we will be helping through squatting.

 

How do I particpate?

 

The training sessions are posted daily on Instagram and we will repost these daily. We can also print the workout for anyone who may be interested.

 

What do I get for participating?

 

One you will get stronger and have some fun. The other thing is we will give you a t shirt and one free massage. Also, any of our fitness center members who wish to participate we will upgrade you to strength lab for October, at no charge to you.

 

 Is it free and what cause are they supporting?

 

It is free yet if you wish to donate Sorinex will be raising money to equip a needy school with a new weight room.

 

What are the workouts like?

 

Previous years workouts can be found on the squatober instagram page. The workouts are posted daily yet this will give you an idea of what to expect.

 

Why are we doing this?

 

We are doing this a multitude of reason. First, it is fun and we like fun. Second, it is for a good cause. Finally, we want to build a stronger and better community and in the age of social distancing we see this as a great way to help any and all of our members who want to try this out.

 

Finally thoughts.

 

Squatober is something I have done in the past and it was challenging and fun. If you are preparing for a meet this is probably not for you. If you are looking for a new challenge and some fun then this may be for you. If you wish to do this and currently take one of our lifting classes you can do your squatober workout during class time. Just warm up with the group then we will set you up on your own rack and be there to support you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Humble Beginnings

When I was young, my dad had a small weight bench and a pair of dumbbells in our spare bedroom upstairs. He first showed me how to use them when I was around 10 years old or so, but after the first time that I took too much weight off of one side of the bar and it came up and hit me square in the mouth, I was over it. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I actually found my way into the weight room.

 

Growing up, I was always extremely active and involved in sports. From growing up on my Grandfather’s farm, to helping my dad work on our 1970 Mustang, to racing dirt bikes and four wheelers, I was always doing something physical. From the age of 4, I played soccer and baseball up until the day that I graduated high school. I lived for all of it. These things were my way of hiding how shy and afraid I was on the inside. When I was standing on that pitcher’s mound or racing around a track, I felt unstoppable. Almost like a superhero. But when all of that went away and I had to go back into the real world, I was just a boy who was scared of what life was going to throw at him.

 

Eventually, I decided to put sports to the side and pursue a career for my love of cars. For a couple of years I worked in custom car shops as a metal fabricator and paint specialist. Although I absolutely loved it, there was now a hole in my life that I couldn’t fill. Without the strength and confidence that I gained from sports, I was still that scared kid from my childhood. One day, my best friend Trey asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with him after work. I hesitated as I flashed back to the time when the barbell hit me in the mouth at my parents house, but I still said yes. Scared and nervous, I walked into our old high school’s weight room as I was greeted by the football coaches. One of them, my History teacher Mr. Joseph, looked at me shocked and said “Miller! What are you doing here? Are you lost or something?”

 

Indeed I was lost. I was 145 pounds soaking wet, and had no idea what I was doing, but each day, I kept coming back. One month into working out 3 days per week, I received news that Trey was in a car accident, and was fighting for his life. I visited him in the hospital, and told myself that I would continue to train for him. As he progressed and got better, I began to realize what the gym had provided me during that time. It gave me the courage to keep pushing when I was sad and scared, and it gave me the strength to not give in even when I wanted to quit. 12 years later, and not a day goes by that I don’t try to repay and pass on everything that the gym has done for me. It has given me the strength to go back to school, to become an established professional, become an Elite powerlifter, build strong relationships, and face my fears every day in order to become a better human being. As long as I live, I will do my best to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to experience the same things that I have.

 

To Mr. Joseph, I am in fact still lost, but I’m finding my way a little more each day. Thank you for the encouragement.

Meet Dave

Hello Union Fitness Family,

 

My name is Dave and I’d like to introduce myself as the newest member of the Union Fitness Family!  I just finished my first month and will be coaching group and personal training sessions as well as holding down the front desk at times.  My first month has been great so far and I look forward to many more.  What I love about being at Union Fitness is the people.  I personally believe you’re not going to find a more well rounded group of coaches and trainers in the area who truly care about wanting to make other people better.  The whole reason I got into strength and conditioning and more specifically coaching is to help others and it is great to be around others who share that same mission.

 

My strength and conditioning journey started 6 years ago as an assistant high school football and strength coach in Lexington, KY.  Since then I primarily spent time in Division I college football, twice at the University of Akron, once as an intern and as an assistant, and at the University of Maryland between being an intern and an assistant.  Last year I spent time working with Grossetti Performance out of New Castle, PA assisting with NFL Draft Prep.  I also spent time at another sports performance facility here in Pittsburgh before coming to Union Fitness where I worked with not only local athletes, youth and professional, but also coached group and personal training sessions.  I am currently finishing my Masters in Strength and Conditioning from LaGrange College and will be finished January of 2021.  

 

I could definitely share more but maybe I will hold off for another post if Hamer let’s me write another one.  If you see me at the gym don’t hesitate to come up and say hello and I look forward to doing what I can to help make Union Fitness the best place to train in Pittsburgh.  

 

All the best,

Dave

 

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

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.

A Conversation in my Head

Hamer and I were taking a break from some heated bocce ball matches after work one day and started having the old debate: low bar or high bar. Hamer stopped and asked the women next to us what they thought. They had no idea what the hell we were talking about. Something that we might think is so important and give each other a hard time about, this woman had no idea what it was and had never given it any thought. Something as simple as that stuck with me, where is my effort going? Is it going somewhere meaningful? What, in the big picture, what actually is strength, how is it shared, what the hell does it even mean? Does it actually matter? 

 

I was watching Neat:The Story of Bourbon last night and they dove into how the whisky is made and  its history of it. They then dove in a bit deeper, to what it means to drink bourbon, to enjoy it with the people you are with. I found it paralleled strength quite a bit in my life. Getting strong is great, getting strong with people you care about is better. Often,the most important training is just getting under the bar with a loved one or pushing some sleds with a brother/sister. Sometimes numbers aren’t always the most important unless we’re in competition. But going through the day in day out of training next to someone else gives meaning to those numbers. I still want to chase  a 700lb deadlift before I go 6ft under, but I know I’m plenty training sessions away from that. However, by saying the numbers aren’t as important I mean when you’re training, I train with a guy that isn’t as physically strong as me, but mentally is so much more. On “those days” he knows he has to step in and get me out of my head and back under a bar. 

 

The other thing that has added meaning to my training is this; the harder I train, the more disciplined I am, the harder I train, the more compassionate I find myself feeling. I hear this alot in the combative sports, that the more time you spend training, getting choked out, the more compassionate and peaceful you find yourself outside of training. I think the same is true for lifting. My rack is where I can be aggressive, angry, whatever the hell I want to be, push my training partners and get after it, with any and every four letter word I  want. but as soon as I step away, I’ve found a peace. 

 

Which brings it back to the struggle. We always usually have a struggle, and the people we go through that struggle with are the ones usually closest to us. Training fosters that as we usually choose our struggle and our training partners are crazy enough to join us in  it everyday. Struggle teaches us to enjoy the hard work  with those we care about. One of my favorite training sessions wasn’t a heavy single (although we all know those are the best) but it was a barbell and a few hundred pounds of bumpers in the middle of a dirt road before a buddies wedding while we had a couple of beers and cleaned. Strength came down to this for me: it’s not about the barbell, it’s about the lives you touch and the people you meet. Strength is just a byproduct of a good relationship and like good bourbon takes time,the hard parts can’t be skipped and it can never be rushed.