Thanks to the wide world of internet, I was also able to reach and follow other celebrity trainers. One in particular was Gunnar Peterson. Who is Gunnar? He was a celebrity trainer before that word was even around. In his 30 years in the business, Gunnar has trained thousands of celebrities. Some current ones include Jennifer Lopez, Kate Beckinsale, Matthew Mcconaughey, Angelina Jolie, Tom Brady, Kim and Khloe Kardashian.
I noticed a significant difference in Gunnar versus other well known trainers. He made it all about his clients. While other trainers posted half naked pictures of them flexing and drinking protein shakes, Gunnar was making videos on how to properly execute exercises and put together a great workout. It wasn’t about how much he could lift. It was all about his clients.
That approach obviously has served him well, as today he continues to deliver incredible results to his clients (both celebrity and non celebrity) at his gym in Beverly Hills. He has a massive waiting list too.
I liked his approach and decided to implement many of his methods. Cardio interval training is big on his list. That, along with the endless research on heart and brain health is one of the reasons I incorporated the water rowers, ski erg and ardyne bikes into the K-Fit HIIT and Tight-N-Tone workouts at Studio K-Fit.
One year ago I decided to write an email to Gunnar simply to thank him for inspiring me. After I was done, I never sent it to him. I got cold feet and thought, “Oh, I shouldn’t bother him, he doesn’t have time to read these little emails”
About 1 month ago I was cleaning up my email drafts when I ran into the email I wrote Gunnar last year. Oh, what the heck, let’s just send it out! Who cares if he doesn’t get back to me.
The next day, his assistant tells me he read it and was touched by my story. She also mentioned that next time I was in LA to come in for a workout and chat with Gunnar.
WHAT!? I ‘m going to meet Gunnar?! I immediately replied and told her that I was going to be in LA the following weekend. She said he starts his workout at 5am Saturday and was expecting me. That’s usually a bit early for me on a weekend while on vacation, but given I was about to workout with the world’s top trainer, I was ok with it.
That Saturday I arrived just before 5am at his secret gym in Beverly Hills. I spent the next 3 hours chatting with Gunnar. Bigger than life, yet you would never know behind his down to earth, witty, and flat out cool personality.
Here are some key takeaways:
1.) You can’t have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic. That’s actually one of the signs up in his gym and he really lives by that. Gunnar is in his mid 50’s and still trains 10-12 clients per day, 6 days a week. The day starts at 5am with his own workout first. He hasn’t let fame deviate him from performing his very best day in and day out.
2.) He refuses to train anyone was is not interested in exercising or wants to whine and complain during the sessions. He’s not interested in running an adult babysitting service, so he only commits to those that are committed to him.
3.) Interval training is king. Over the years, Gunnar has been gifted many top of the line machines to use with his clients. Many of his workouts included bouts of interval training as he says it’s important to keep the heart rate up and increase the metabolic demand in the body. Agreed.
4.) He doesn’t let the small things bother him. In the world of personal training, it’s inevitable that clients will share many personal things with you...many of which can include first world problems that are really irritating to hear complaints about. He’s learned not to take it personal or take with him outside the gym. He says that once he leaves the gym, it’s all about the family. He doesn’t bring his work (or the drama) back home with him.
5.) Knowing how to handle people’s emotion and build them up mentally is key. This is where we dug into the psychology a bit (Gunnar has a bachelor in psychology from Duke). The mental approach to fitness is equally as important as the physical one.
You may have heard it before, your body can only go as far as the mind will allow it. Aside from fitness, working on developing a healthy mindset (and limiting the junk that you expose it too) can have a massive positive impact on your relationships, your work, your health and your overall well being.
6.) Shift to looking at food consumption with the end result in mind. Meaning, instead of feeding your desires and taste buds, ask yourself how that particular food will make you feel afterwards. It may be a temporary high, but it may not be worth the extra empty calories. Look at food as fuel, not as the temporary treat that you “deserve because of a hard and long day.” Food has a powerful effect to make you feel super energized and alert or tired and regretful. Choose wisely.
7.) A fit body is the foundation in developing a healthier overall life. Nothing is as simple as fitness, yet the rewards you reap is priceless. You get more mental clarity, you get more energy in order to soak up more of life, it inspires healthier decisions (ie: nutrition), allows you to sleep better, and helps you develop a better overall version of yourself.
8.) For motivation, find something emotionally compelling to you (ie: family). Nothing and no one else can give you more sustainable motivation than yourself.
Overall, it was an incredible time with Gunnar. Honestly, I didn’t do much “working out” as I was more interested in asking him questions and get his insights. I’m grateful for his time and his lessons. I’ll be applying many of them in my own life and hope you can grab a few valuable takeaways as well.
Committed to your health,