An interview with Gunnar Peterson

Personal trainer

Editorial Staff
June 29, 2006

Gunnar Peterson is a Beverly Hills-based personal trainer whose clients include celebrities, professional athletes, and everyday people. He is widely recognized for his expertise in functional training, and his commitment to developing and implementing innovative fit-ness techniques. With a client list as diverse as his training methods, Gunnar emphasizes strength training modalities that can be trans-ferred from the gym to daily life, from training camp to championship. He has worked with athletes from the NBA, NHL, NFL, USTA, pro-fessional boxing and various NCAA sports. Many film and television celebrities who have sought Gunnars guidance in preparing for roles have then stayed on to become devoted clients, making him a part of their regular fitness regimen. He is contributing editor for Glamour and has a recurring feature in L.A Confidential magazine. Gunnar is also regularly featured in Allure, Elle, In Style, In Touch, US Weekly and other magazines. His television appearances include The Today Show, CNN, and CNN Headline News. The Florentine had the opportunity to interview Peterson during his recent visit to the International Fitness Festival held in Florences Fortezza da Basso.What advice do you have for people who want to be physically fit?

 Well, the first thing is to make the right choices at the table and get to enough rest. Its best to time ones protein in-take throughout the day and eat small snacks every three hours, because that style of eating is easier on the digestive system. I also always recom-mend that people consume their foods as close to their natural state as possible. Fruits and vegetables should be eaten early in the day. The same is true of complex carbohydrates, because they provide long term energy. Mostly its about creating a healthy lifestyle. You can exercise in front of the TV if you want; you dont have to go to the gym necessarily. Its about making full use of your body. Your body is your musical instrument and you have to play it. Exercise improves the quality of life.  Is there anything you tell your clients to avoid? Its not about avoidance. Certainly, you dont want to eat junk food in large quantities. But I never tell my clients not to eat something. If I say that, it makes people feel deprived and get on the defensive.

Whats your favourite physical activity?Its hard to believe that theres anything more exciting than climbing the wall of the Fortezza! But in everyday life, Im a basketball fan. I root for the Clippers. Who have you trained?I've worked with Sylvester Stallone, Penelope Cruz, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Willis, Angelina Jolie, Monica Sellers Of all the celebrities youve worked with, who has been the most difficult to train?Anyone who has been sent there by their spouse! But if you were to name someone specific?Most recently, Ive worked with Christina Ricci. Its not that she was difficult to work with, in terms of her personality, but she had been sent by her manager to get in shape for a movie. You can always tell when someone comes by choice and when they are forced to be there. It makes a huge difference.What do you consider the most complete sport?Its hard to say. You mean for cardiovascular? Volleyball. Football. Boxing or martial arts are great for hand-to-eye co-ordination. Basket-ball also gives you a full body workout. Swimming is great, but its hard for most people and its not the best for burning body fat because being in the water cools you down. Tennis is great too, but it depends at what level. For most people, tennis is anaerobic exercise. If you go to a tennis lesson you get a much more complete work out than if youre playing a match with a friend. When planning personalized workouts for my clients, I have them change exercises all the time. Change keeps their minds engaged. It keeps their bodies guessing. I mean, the same types of exercises are in every work out, but you can change angles, the number of repetitions you do, the  position of an exercise in the work out.  Even slight change keeps people from getting bored. How long does it take to get in shape if you start with a normal body?Whats a normal body? Someone with an athletic background? Each person is a case in and of themselves. Its not just about exercise. Its about water intake and the choices you make in your daily life. A person can see huge changes in four, five, six weeks. Its not about living like a priest, but you have to want it. All the famous people I mentioned before really wanted it. When Jennifer Lopez started training with me, she would come to workout at five in the morning, before filming on the set all day.

What does your typical day look like?I go to bed at 8.30pm and get up at 3.00am. Some people think its crazy, but I never said I was perfect! It works for me. It sets me up to do the right thing everyday. I get up early so I can work out. A lot of people say they have no time to keep fit. Its a choice. I work out one hour a day, every day. Then during training sessions, I show clients two repetitions of each exercise. I have a client who says that I am the best two reps guy in the world. What do you think about doping?In an ideal world, it would be great to control drug use in sports. There are guys taking steroids as well as other agents so that the steroids doesnt show up in the test. Do I think doping has increased recently? Yes, it has. But I dont think everyone is doing it. But thenwe have to decide what you consider doping. Certain things are legal in some sports and illegal in others. How much does it cost to work with you?Less than people end up paying in medical bills when they dont take care of themselves!

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