SLMan Meets… Hollywood Trainer Gunnar Peterson

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From Rocky to The Rock, Gunnar Peterson has trained them all. One of Hollywood’s favourite PTs, he’s also now chief of athletics at F45 Training. He gave SLMan his perspective on health, wellness and why he no longer fears food.
Photography @GUNNARFITNESS

Health is all about balance – between strength, cardiovascular capability, flexibility, stability, balance, nutrition, hydration, recovery and happiness. It’s not easy, but if you’re committed and willing to work, it is possible.

I never miss my morning workout. It’s my only rule and sets the right foundation for good decisions throughout the rest of the day. It gives me the mental clarity to deal with all sorts of challenges.

I start my day at 3:45am. I take my supplements, I drink a litre of water, eat and then train between 5am and 6:30am. This way I can get to my desk by about 7:15am. People are curious, but I go to bed about 10pm.

What do I eat first thing? A Split bar. After training I have a protein shake. Then I tend to have egg whites and turkey scramble with spinach for lunch, followed by jicama and guacamole mid-afternoon. It’s often salmon and tomatoes for dinner, with a glass or two of wine and some milk chocolate afterwards. 

There’s no reason to fear food. I was an overweight kid and had some odd associations with food. Now, I’m well aware what each food does to me and I choose what to eat accordingly. I stay fuelled all day by spacing out my meals, drinking BioSteel during my workout so my electrolytes don’t dip, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day. My favourite snacks are anything from Split if I’m trying to be healthy, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups if not.

The supplements I take include MitoQ for cellular health, Chlorofresh, and a Vita JYM multivitamin. My view is people should try what they think they need, look into what sounds interesting, then whittle it down to what works. Often less is more.

I teamed up with F45 because its workouts and programming cycles are similar to the ones I use when I train people one on one. I thought it would be a great way for me to be able to scale what I did – something I admit I’ve struggled with – and get a solid message out there about results-driven, doable fitness. I love the F45 community, the work ethic, and the team’s can-do approach to training.

How often you should work out varies per person. I know some people who don’t train at all and others who train twice a day. Somewhere within those extremes you will find what works for you. When you find it, stick to it, and try to add to it. But most of all, learn to love it and it will become easier. I train every day – or at least until a rest day ‘finds me’. 

The mistakes I see clients make most often include doubling down on training to fix food transgressions (just stay the course, it all evens out) and being unwilling to try new types of training or group exercise. Our field is constantly evolving and there are a lot of great ways to stay on your exercise path.

How often you should work out varies. I know people who don’t train at all and others who train twice a day – somewhere within those extremes you will find what works for you.

Some of my hardest working clients are the biggest stars, most powerful businessmen and most talented athletes. It’s no coincidence that those labels go hand in hand with the hardest work I see in the gym.

My best recovery tips are to drink more water than you think you need and try to get the right hours of sleep every night. Also, be proactive about reducing your stress levels. That means phones down 30-60 minutes before your head hits the pillow.

As I get older, I’m trying to prioritise sleep. It’s been my focus for the last six years. I’m still far, far from perfect, but I’m aware and that keeps me on track. I find I can usually switch off by spending time with my kids without my phone. It’s also easier to get an extra one or two hours of sleep on Sunday. Some of my other health and wellness practices include regular sauna and TheraGun use, TheraBody jet boots, and AltWell CBD when I feel especially sore.

My view on alcohol is if you enjoy it and the collateral damage is manageable, live your life. If it’s a problem, then it’s a problem. The guys at Earn Your Booze have a great approach to it.

Finally, push yourself. Do more than you think you can. Have fun with it and don’t stress about it.

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