This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Propel. I was compensated and all opinions are 100% my own.
Being a Propel Brand Ambassador definitely has its perks. As I mentioned in last week’s post, The ‘Hurry up and wait’ lifestyle: A Propel Ambassador Update, our trip to L.A. was nothing less of awesomeness. A state of all out awesome! Between 3 days of shooting, we still found plenty of time to crack jokes, play, lounge by the pool, eat fantastic chef-prepared dishes and of course deepen relationships between new-found friends. All in all, it was an epic 4-days and memories that will last me for years to come.
A personal highlight for me was meeting Gunnar “trainer to the stars” Peterson. He’s not only a father of 3, accomplished business owner, author, editor, fitness enthusiast, key-note speaker, but he’s also just a down right, super cool dude. I, along with the other ambassadors including Theodora, Presley, Jon, Lee, David and Beth had an opportunity to interview Gunnar at the end of our 3rd day of shooting.
Hope you enjoy the pearls of wisdom as much as we did.
The Propel Ambassador Interview with Personal Trainer Gunnar Peterson
[toggle title=”Gunnar, what would your last meal be?” state=”close” ]
Lee: If you had to choose one food you could only eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Gunnar: With zero repercussions?
Gunnar: Oh. Peanut butter cups without a hesitation.
Everyone: Lots of cheering and laughing.
Gunnar: Actually I just had somebody ask me yesterday, “What would your last meal be?” And I said chopped salad with double-tuna, and a peanut butter cup. For sure without a doubt. Let’s call chopped salad the best salad ever.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”Gunnar's Favorite Exercise?” state=”close” ]
Theodora: If you could only do one exercise for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Gunnar: Squat with a twisting press.
Gunnar: You see I’d have a better body than you – you’d done your (Shavasana) and I did mine.
David: Actually I stole that exercise from an interview you (Gunnar) did with someone else – squat with a twisting press.
Gunnar: Yes it gets everything.
David: Oh yeah!
Lee: Can you show us what it is? Is it done with weights or without weights?
Gunnar: Yes it’s done with weights, it’s not yoga. (Proceeds to demo the squat with a twisting press)
Theodora: So Gunnar is anti-yoga.
Gunnar: I’m not against yoga at all! I just don’t think it’s an island.
Beth: You need to pair yoga with something else?
Gunnar: Absolutely, I think so.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”How does Gunnar Train his clients?” state=”close” ]
David: What is your outlook on programming for clients?
Gunnar: I try to look at what they do in their lives. What they are coming off in the sports, history of sports, current sports? What they’re engaged in and what they are trying to do with their bodies. So I’m not opposed to anything and I will do dumbbell bicep curls with people even though it’s so frowned upon like the functional fools. But you know you got to get them where they want to be. And if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes. You program it in.
Theodora: With what exercise do you often see people injuring themselves the most?
Gunnar: With running. Oh my God, I see people go, “I ran 4 miles!” And I’m like “why?!” and “how?!” and “oh my God!” and the next day they go, “ya, (Gunnar), you know that thing in my knee?” Really, no kidding. I see it all the time – they’re running.
We just talked about that and it’s like they feel entitled to run because they are upright beings. And, God, they got to learn to run. Their running mechanics are off. They don’t think about it.
Beth: What part of the mechanics? What’s off?
Gunnar: I hear usually one side (striking) much harder. If I put them on a treadmill… I was just out-of-town yesterday and I went to a gym for a workout. The woman next to me, I thought she was trying to break the treadmill. She wasn’t even running, it was like, [Gunnar elaborates with a fast and hard hand slap with a repetitive thud]. Honey, I loved you in STOMP, but what are you doing?[/toggle]
[toggle title=”And Gunnar's thoughts on family health…” state=”close” ]
Dai: As you’re talking about kids. I’ve got two daughters – 9 and 11 – and I see a lot in their school and just, it’s common now in North America, period – I see a lot of parents tend to use their kids more as an excuse why they can’t exercise. I see and hear that happening all the time. What do you do in those situations? You’re clearly a role model for your kids.
Gunnar: My boys are now training with me.
Dai: That’s awesome.
Gunnar: Yeah, they ask me. 15 and 13. They have done it before a week here and a week there, but now they’re really into it.
Gunnar: Don’t worry about your sports. It’s gonna be when that (puberty) hits. And whatever it takes to get ‘em in the gym, I don’t have any problem with that. But I think, make it a part of your daily life. It has to be…
Dai: Part of your lifestyle, right?
Gunnar: It is. And your training… your working out on a regular basis makes you a better parent. First of all you have more energy to keep up with your kids better. Second of all you are able to do more things with them. I don’t want to be a dad who says, “Enjoy your bike ride!” I want to be the dad that says, “Let’s go together”. In a certain amount of time they are going to leave you anyway. So you want to maximize your time with your kids.
Dai: And what do you think about other parents? Other parents may ask you how you do it. How do what you do? Leverage your time better?
Gunnar: If you look at it, I don’t know, in our space program, originally the quote was “failure is not an option”. It is not an option. I have a T-shirt in the gym it says “it’s easier to lose sight of your commitments if you’re always looking at your options.” And I think that’s really true with fitness and I think it’s really true with parenting. If you can always find a way to NOT do something, or get somebody else to do it, then you are probably not going to do it yourself.
Lee: What sports do your kids play?
Gunnar: My oldest is almost exclusively basketball and my middle one is football and soccer a bit, but he’s not that good at soccer. So I say look just use it (soccer) as conditioning for football. So he gets that. And my little one – my girl – is in gymnastics and functional fitness classes.
Presley: How old is she?
Gunnar: She’s 9.
Lee: She’s 9 and she does functional fitness sessions?
Gunnar: Yeah but it’s a modified thing.
David: So with your son that plays basketball, you want him to go to Duke?
Gunnar: My kid’s going to Duke. It’s just that. I went to Duke, my brother went to Duke, my parents went to Duke… I have a house back there and my kids go to the basketball camp there every year and have since they were little. People that know me are like “you’re totally brainwashing them” and my response, “absolutely!”[/toggle]
[toggle title=”Gunnar and Training professional athletes” state=”close” ]
Beth: Do you train any NBA players?
Gunnar: I do.
Presley: Do you do virtual training with them then?
Gunnar: No. My NBA guys, I only have them in the off-season.
Beth: Do professional athletes complain at all? Or do they listen to you?
Gunnar: No. You know what’s funny? Athletes, especially high-level in my experience – and I’ve worked from every sport – they are so used to taking direction, they never question. And if they question, and this is only my experience, if they question you, they’re really just buying time. Because they don’t question.
Beth: That’s interesting.
Gunnar: It’s great. It’s great to work with them!
Lee: What about the celebrities?
Gunnar: What about them?
Lee: Do they like to push it? Complain?
Gunnar: Oh my God! Every little… “If I do it that way I feel it here, and if I go here then I feel it…” Ahhh, with all the complaining you could have been done the workout by now. Really?[/toggle]
[toggle title=”When on the road, what's your workouts like, Gunnar?” state=”close” ]
Theodora: You travel a lot, what’s your favorite workout when on the road? Favorite studio anywhere in the country?
Gunnar: I was a spinning instructor like 100 years ago so that’s my go to for cardio.
Lee: I do spinning and love it.
Gunnar: Actually, my girlfriend, she’s taken me three classes in the last two weeks. I took in Brentwood last week and two in Beverly Hills.
Theodora: You have a lot of the New York instructors out here.
Gunnar: Are there? It’s fun, it’s fun. I love that stuff.
David: I’m really intrigued by your online challenge. What was the catalyst to get that going?
Gunnar: I was approached by the Australian guys who had done a challenge down there (in Australia), which was really successful. And then they took it to England where it was really successful and they brought it here and wanted to put an American face to it and they did. And at first it wasn’t working but I think it was more to do with the PR efforts.
Beth: What is the challenge, Gunnar?
Gunnar: It’s an online challenge of different workouts and I did for the workouts for the program. I’m a stickler for that. If it’s got my name on it, then I have to have my say. It has to be your own thing. The workouts are fun and you can do it and some are super, super intense. So it’s not just for newbies. And the food database is huge, so it says based on your categorizing of foods you like what you should be eating and it will give your alternatives. So yeah it’s pretty cool. And they have, their food databases are proprietary and there’s over 100,000 entries. That’s a lot of stuff!
David: Yeah. That’s great.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”And what's your diet like?” state=”close” ]
Beth: Do you have any or follow a specific diet plan? What’s your diet like?
Gunnar: I’m super good all week and on weekends I relax but I don’t go nuts.
Theodora: What’s your advice for clients when they go eat crazy?
Gunnar: Just get back on that horse. Get back on.
Gunnar: There’s actually a book. And it’s more for men, but there’s some interesting parts there for women about cheat days.
Jon: Is the book diet based?
Gunnar: No it’s diets, its lifestyle. If people had read it like 20 years ago, we’d be way better off, it’s a good book. Then they also talk about cheat days and getting back on it and they encourage it.
Presley: My life is a cheat day.
Gunnar: (to Presley) if you stop working out you probably get thinner, right? Smaller? That’s your body type.
Presley: Yes, this is what I was asking Dai about earlier. My husband and I, we have to fight to gain muscle. I always feel like I don’t look in shape or athletic cause I have to… it’s a struggle. That’s what my biggest problem is.
Gunnar: How old are you?
Presley: I’m 25.
Gunnar: Well that will shift when you get older.
Beth: Yeah, the metabolism will slow down.
Gunnar: But it won’t necessarily go huge but there’ll be a change and you will go “wow, I am gaining”.
Presley: I just feel like my strength plateaus a lot.
Gunnar: How old are your kids?
Presley: He’ll be 2 in June.
Gunnar: So your sleep probably isn’t great, is it?
Presley: No, but it’s getting better.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”How important is sleep?” state=”close” ]
Beth: How important is sleep?
Gunnar: It’s huge! Sleep is huge.
Beth: 7 to 8 hours, what’s your suggestion?
Gunnar: 8 hours. I read a book that has a great analogy in it of a backpack. The author says at the end of a long day, you will be wearing a backpack and you will have 8 bricks in it (1 brick added for every 2 hours awake). For every hour you sleep, you take out one brick. So if you only get 7 hours, you start the next day with 1 brick already in the backpack. The next night, you sleep 7 again, you now start the day with 2 bricks in the backpack. So by the end of the week you are essentially walking around with a full backpack. And he makes a great point – I have to get my sleep!
Presley: So I like have a rucksack full of bricks.
Gunnar: For sure (you do)! It’s my worst aspect of health. I got kids, I got businesses, I get up at 3:45 am, I train 6, 7, 8 people a day. I try to only train 9 clients in a single day to once per week but it’s typically 6 – 7 – 8 per day.
Dai: I read that in an interview, I was wondering if you still maintained that kind of volume.
Gunnar: Tomorrow I have nine people, a 30 minute meeting and a one-hour meeting. It’s a shit day.
David: So you train people Monday through Saturday?
Gunnar: Monday through Friday, Saturdays is for people I have to. If they really, really, really have something but if it is just to make up something that they screwed up on. Yeah I can’t keep giving up my days. When I’m there 14 hours a day, every day and you (my client) couldn’t find how to get in, so now I have to add more hours and days to my schedule? No. But if it is somebody getting ready for something, I have to respect that and you are in the service industry you do have to serve and I mean I’ll always do that. I mean I have trained people. When one client was training for a movie, we trained at 3 in the morning. Every single day. You know and sometimes when people switch to night shoots and I’m training them at 10 PM. But I’d go home and feed the kids, go back to the gym for 9:15 and be ready for them. And my attitude is always “Here we go! Only 1 more, let’s get it done.” You got to be there for them (the clients).[/toggle]
[toggle title=”How do you keep your clients accountable to their goals?” state=”close” ]
Jon: How did you get into the business from personal trainer to high-profile, celebrity trainer?
Gunnar: Where I am. I mean it’s hard, people say I want to do what you do. If you want to work with those people, (and first of all that’s weird to want to work with these types of people), but you got to go where they are.
Beth: Where are you originally from?
Gunnar: I grew up in Texas, and then I was in Switzerland and then Saudi Arabia and then came back, went to Duke, then came out here (Hollywood/Beverly Hills, California).
Gunnar: Yeah, but you are out here so that’s the demographic. If your goal is because you have a certain platform and fitness that you would like to have get exposure, aligning yourself with those people (than) that’s correct. If it’s because you want to rub shoulders and have stories to tell about celebrities, I mean that’s a little weird but I’m not here to judge it.
Dai: Gotta ask you, you got a great client and you’re training them 5 hours a week or so, it still leaves 163 hours for them to screw it up. Do you dial them in with their nutrition?
Gunnar: I say that all the time. I say to my clients, “there’s a 168 hours in a week, you’re with me for 3, and your body’s not developing and I’m to blame?”
Dai: Yeah, that’s what I mean. So how do you hold them accountable?
Gunnar: I tell them that. Straight up. Bottom line they know.
Gunnar: Ok, let’s wrap up.
Propel Brand Ambassadors: (lots of thanks to Gunnar)[/toggle]
A few pictures of the Propel Ambassadors with Gunnar Peterson