Our UGSS Experience with John Meadows

TAGS: attend seminar, seminar at elitefts, Elite Custom Fitness, Jessica Merolillo, Timothy Merolillo, Our UGSS Experience with John Meadows, elitefts experience, john meadows, dave tate

As two Pittsburghers, my wife and I only cross the Pennsylvania/Ohio border for a few reasons, and one of the biggest is to visit and learn from some of the best in the strength and conditioning industry. As gym owners, we are always looking to further our knowledge on how to effectively educate our clients on building strength and reaching their individual goals. Elitefts has had a huge hand in helping us with that. I have been an avid fan and supporter of elitefts for many years, and through coming into my life, my wife has grown to love and appreciate it just as much as I do. So it goes without saying that when I saw this opportunity present itself, my wife and I knew we had to attend the UGSS with John Meadows.


WATCH: John Meadows UGSS Presentation — Principles and Phase I


My wife and I left early enough in the morning to arrive around 9:30 AM and check out the facility. As usual, on the way there she had a million questions about what to expect at the seminar. “Who will we train with? Will we all train together? Who will be there?” Needless to say, we were both extremely nervous and didn’t know what to expect, which only created more anticipation leading up to our morning at the compound. Intimidation doesn’t even explain what we felt when we arrived and were among so many people who we have admired for so long. Patiently awaiting the start of the training portion of the seminar, we took the time to look around the facility and admire the people, the equipment, and just take in the atmosphere.

deadlift ted toalston

Once they announced the format of the morning, we were given free reign of the gym to train in and among different groups based on what we were looking to train that day. My wife and I had already determined that we wanted to max out on squat and deadlift before we arrived. When we stumbled upon Ted Toalston and his crew, we knew we found the right group for us. At our gym in Pittsburgh, Elite Custom Fitness, we train out of racks and don’t have access to a monolift. It was a no-brainer that using the monolift would be a great experience, and something new for both of us. With the help of the team, my wife and I both broke PRs in our squat and learned a little about how to adjust in a monolift.

After that, we moved to the deadlift platform to try to break some more PRs. Yet again, Ted did not disappoint and provided some key suggestions to both of us that assisted in bettering our deadlift setup. My wife even popped her 300-pound deadlift cherry! Between the help with form and setup, and talking about our goals and upcoming meets, it was great to get to know some of the elitefts team a little more personally.

After spending the morning training, we reconvened to learn about training and nutrition from John Meadows. It was unbelievable. As a powerlifter, I thought that there was a possibility that some of his training and nutritional perspectives may differ from what we do, but I was pleasantly surprised at how many things overlapped. Although we are training with a powerlifting mentality, we approach our training cycle with phases similar to what John discussed. More so than anything, John’s mentality on longevity in this industry and living a sustainable training lifestyle really hit home for us. Hearing an IFBB Pro with that kind of perspective is refreshing.

UGSS John Meadows

Last but not least, the best part of the entire experience was hearing Dave speak to us about his journey through this industry and his belief of not giving up on people. There is a reason why I started following elitefts years ago, and listening to Dave speak in-person today for the first time solidified it for me. To hear him speak so honestly and openly about his life and his motivation personally and professionally confirmed everything I have thought of Dave all of these years. He is the gold standard of this industry, and that was even more apparent in his closing words to the group and in his personal conversations with each and every person that approached him.

Leaving on the final day, we immediately started reflecting on the weekend and thinking about how to incorporate Dave’s ideas and his perspective in our day-to-day lives and in our business. Like the elitefts philosophy, we plan on continuing to take part in as many experiences like this as we can and sharing what we’ve learned with our clients back at Elite Custom Fitness. Thank you again to Dave, John, Ted, and the rest of the elitefts crew for hosting this amazing event and opening up your doors to us. Looking forward to coming back again soon!


Timothy is the owner of a gym in Pittsburgh called Elite Custom Fitness alongside his wife, Jessica, who is a full-time middle school teacher when she is not at the gym helping to train clients and assist in daily operations. Timothy is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology. Tim and Jessica have both been longtime readers and supporters of Elite FTS, and continue to seek opportunities to broaden their knowledge on how to effectively educate and support their clients on proper training and living a healthy lifestyle. Also, Jessica and Tim, along with a few of gym members at their local gym, will be competing in their first USPA Powerlifting Meet in April 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. They are looking forward to preparing and training for the meet over the next couple of months and are excited to begin their journey in powerlifting.
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