Gunnar Peterson is the Los Angeles-based trainer who was responsible for Jennifer Lopez’s 50lb weight loss after she gave birth to twins Max and Emme back in 2008.
He has a client list of celebrities including; Giselle, Khloe Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Ciara and Matthew McConaughey, plus he has trained a host of professional athletes – including Olympians – over the past twenty-seven years.
Known as one of Hollywood’s top transformation specialists, a lot of the stars who go to his gym for training as early as 5am six days a week (and they sometimes ask him to go with them when they travel) are paid millions of dollars every year to stay in tip-top shape, so it’s a part of their job – especially if a big blockbuster movie that they’re starring in is coming up.
But we wondered what his tips are for the rest of us, who want to get back into fitness after a long, lazy summer with little exercise and plenty of days out for picnics, lunches and barbecues, with lots of desserts and lashings of wine.
Whilst Gunnar is known for his gruelling workouts at his own state-of-the-art gym in Los Angeles, he has clients who used to hate the gym now saying that they’ve fallen in love with fitness after a series of fun but tough sweat sessions with him.
We wanted to know if there’s another way to work out, without shelling out for that expensive gym membership, especially if you’re more interested in being healthier and improving overall fitness, rather than a dramatic full body transformation.
Gunnar says that you can get in a really great workout in less than one hour and that in just forty minutes you can fit in a 5 minute warm up, 30 minutes of exercise, followed by a stretch and a cool down.
And, he says you can workout anywhere:
“People often say that they’re too busy to work out but everyone can find forty minutes a day,” Gunnar tells Lumity. “Work out at home if you can’t make it to the gym. It’s absolutely possible.
“If you keep it fun and mix up what you do so it’s not the same every time then you’ll look forward to your workout and it will be a time of the day that you enjoy. Everyone feels better after they have exercised because of the endorphins and a feeling of pride and accomplishment that they didn’t put it off. It’s taking time out to do something that’s just for you that’s about self-care and happiness.
“Getting back into working out after summer is really as easy as getting off the sofa and deciding to do it. There’s no special trick – just decide to do it and start. You’ll thank yourself for it as you start to feel better, it doesn’t take long to get your fitness levels improved and everyone likes to feel healthy. Once you start exercising regularly, that spreads over into every other area of your life. You’ll have more energy and boosted confidence levels from knowing that you set a goal and stuck to it. So you get better at making long-term and short-term plans.
“Then once you’re in a routine of exercising, you’re likely to make better diet choices as you’ll want to continue looking after yourself. So you’ll opt for a healthy option for dinner that will nourish you instead of something that’s of little nutritional value. People start looking at their favourite sugary treats and fried take-away snacks differently. They think, ‘I just burned this many calories off in my workout – do I want to eat it in five minutes or shall I have something else that is good for me?’
“Feeling better mentally makes you look better because you’re happy and smiling, so it’s really about far more than forcing yourself into exercise. Don’t make it this big thing, just do it, make it fun and about looking after yourself and you’ll look forward to working out and it will become second nature to you. A lot of people get bad tempered if they stop exercising and that’s because it’s a great outlet for physical and mental energy.
“If you have had a bad day, going off and doing some exercise will make it all seem better whereas having a double cheeseburger and a bar of chocolate will make you feel even worse. Plus, you sleep better too if you’ve exercised.”
As for the gym, Gunnar points out that there’s a whole host of other options for exercising – you can even work out in the office, or at home, if you want.
Gunnar says: “You can go for a brisk walk, which will clear your thoughts and is better than doing absolutely nothing. Take a route that goes up stairs, or up hills as well as flat and downhill and you’ll get your heart-rate up.
“Most people live near a park and that’s an excellent option for working out. You’re in the fresh air and you can take a skipping rope with you and jump rope while you are there.
“Even a few minutes of that gets your heart rate up and you start sweating – which is great. A lot of celebrities take a skipping rope with them when they travel and skip in their hotel rooms – five minutes of that is better than nothing at all.
“If you can’t afford equipment, you can make your own weights by filling up two one litre bottles with water and doing arm curls – using the bottles like dumbbells. You can do side lunges, squats, push ups, planks. You can use the park benches to do bench dips (which you can also do off the edge of a bed or a sofa), and if you listen to your favourite music while you’re doing it you’ll really enjoy yourself.
“Just going for a bike ride is an excellent form of cardio – you don’t have to go for miles, start with short, manageable ones and you can gradually make them longer as your fitness levels quickly build and your muscles adapt and grow stronger.
“Another exercise which most people tend to enjoy is going for a swim: it’s relaxing, fun, clears your head and if you do some fast laps and a few slower ones you’ll be working out without even knowing it.
“Exercise is often better if you find a friend to do it with you as you spur each other on and motivate and encourage each other.”
And, Gunnar has one final tip for measuring results – don’t be a slave to the weighing scales:
He explains: “If you get on the scale and it hasn’t moved you’re going to feel demotivated. Weight goes up and down for a lot of reasons. You can be carrying water weight or it could be a hormonal fluctuation and a lot of scales aren’t accurate anyway. If you really want to know how you’re doing, take a picture in front of a mirror at the exact same time once a week or once every few weeks. It has to be the same lighting and angle each time and has to be the same time of day always, as our bodies change after meals. That way you can see changes for yourself and be motivated to continue.”
As for diet, Gunnar isn’t a fan of refined sugar or white flour and recommends consuming fruits and vegetables instead, saying that the slow-burning carbs in vegetables are better than heavy, white flour – which makes people feel sleepy.
He also advises to get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water, as well as eating the recommended amount of calories per day instead of doing starvation diets – which are all essential to give you the energy you need to feel great every day.
And, below is a video where Gunnar shows an entire series of exercises which you don’t have to do in a gym and can do at home right now!
Let us know your favourite workouts in the comments below… We’d love to hear which ones you enjoy!