Fitness Magazine May Feature- Get an A-List Body

30 PHYSICAL | May 2015

It’s a truism in life that the man who really has the goods doesn’t have to sell you on it. Such is the case with Gunnar Peterson, CSCS, CPT, an L.A.-based trainer whose clients include some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment. Easygoing and unpretentious, Peterson applies a blue-collar work ethic to red-carpet talent, utilizing his encyclopedic knowledge of training and nutrition to firm up Kardashians and keep Tom Brady in peak condition. Peterson’s down-to-earth demeanor and good humor make him one of the most approachable experts in the tness industry.

Besides celebrities, Peterson’s comprehensive approach has satisfied the demands of athletes from the NBA, NFL, NHL, NCAA and others (tennis legend Pete Sampras once credited the trainer with extending his career), so if you think you’re too tough to listen to J-Lo’s trainer, think again. This guy delivers—he’s just not the type to brag about it. While chances are pretty slim that you’re going to be starring opposite Angelina Jolie (a Peterson client) any time soon, you can still take advantage of the famed trainer’s expertise through his two-week makeover system, 14 to Lean. Have a big date or wedding coming up? Peterson will have you ready for your close-up even if you have only two weeks.

We recently caught up with Peterson at his private gym—situated in a secret location to prevent paparazzi attacks—to find out more about his training philosophy and the 14 to Lean system.

PHYSICAL MAGAZINE: What inspired you to begin a career in fitness?

GUNNAR PETERSON: I was fat as a kid. I was in Weight Watchers when I was 10, and always fought weight problems. I still fight it. I was always active in sports, but I just didn’t ever make the correlation between eating and looking the way I wanted to. I got into working out in college, and after college I got the diet part dialed in.

PM: Did you find that nutrition was the largest factor in fitness?

GP: No. I find that the closer you get to your ultimate goal, the more important part that nutrition plays. I would say get the exercise dialed in. Get the recovery dialed in.  Then start the meal planning and supplementing.

PM: Where do you think your commitment to the science of training and nutrition come from?

GP: It’s wanting to have the same type of control over my looks as any typical 21-year-old wants. It wasn’t about health.  People don’t admit it, because it sounds narcissistic and self-serving, but you want to look good.

PM: Was it the fat kid inside maybe?

GP: Honestly, it probably was. I was very conscious of my man boobs—as a kid you worry about it. When I was growing up in Houston and we played shirts and skins, I would literally grab the dude in front of me and throw him behind me if I was going to end up a skin.

PM: Does your history help you relate to clients?

GP: I think it does. I train some people now—even industry people—who often see themselves as the fat kid. It’s the foundation that’s laid. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. It may be better for you in terms of forcingyou to make choices more than the person who never had to worry about their weight.  It makes it easier than if you turn 30 and think, Why can’t I eat what I’ve always eaten?

PM: At some point you were able to separate yourself from other trainers.  What are the qualities that made you different?

GP: I think I stayed open to learning. A lot of guys fall into a certain approach, certain protocols, certain modalities and that’s just what they stick with, or else they jump from one extreme to another, like they’re all about heavy weights, then all of a sudden they’re all about yoga or spinning. I have always found ways to take from a number of disciplines.  I read things from every realm of sport, fitness, health—everything I can get my hands on.  Then I put together what I know works.

PM: You’re obviously in shape. Do you apply these methods to yourself?

GP: I train every day just before 5 .., and I’m also here at the gym every day. I think that lends a certain credibility to my clientele. I had a guy today training, a professional athlete, and he said, “God, this kills. Do you know how this kills?” And then he looked at me again and said, “Yeah, you know how this kills,” because he knows I’ve been there—not that the other trainers don’t work out, because they do, but I don’t know that they’re constantly mixing it up the way I do. You’ve got to keep growing.

PM: Do you keep up with new research studies and trend reports?

GP: Tons of them. The field’s constantly evolving. You can probably look around and tell I’m somewhat of a hoarder, so I keep everything and I go back into it and look at stuff. I have training logs of my own from 25 years ago as well as notes from seminars from 15 years ago.

PM: Is it important to be open to your clients’ different habits?

GP: Yes. You listen to what they want. You don’t slap them back and say, “at’s ridiculous,” or, “You’ll never get that.” You say, “OK. Well, based on the fact that these are your genetics, I see you going more this way, and I think this would be a productive way to get you where we’re closer to where you want.” You don’t say, “there’s only one way to do it,” or, “Your way is all wrong.”  There are ways to make people come around and see what really works.

PM: How important is the psychological aspect of training when you approach famous clients?

GP: After the second workout, it’s everything, because we’ve established the sets, reps, duration and intensity—they don’t want to talk about that all the time. It’s like a restaurant: If you assume the food in all four-star restaurants is great, what’s the rating based on? What’s the rest of the experience?

PM: How do you create that prime experience in your gym?

GP: It starts from when they pull up. How easy is the parking? When they walk in, how are they greeted? Is the gym the same temperature and noise level from last time? L.A. is a transient town where things change. This gym is one thing they can count on.  They can count on this place being immaculate.  They can count on the level of service being the same.  They know that there are fresh towels and water and Gatorade. It’s reassuring.  It’s just like in the stock market: There is a flight to quality.  That doesn’t mean they won’t leave here and “cheat on you,” but they’ll come back. They just do.

PM: So it’s a relationship.

GP: Very much so. Anybody can make a great impression right out of the gate, but how do you maintain it? I can only speak to the ZIP code, but I think personal training is a luxury service, so why are they going to keep spending their disposable income to come back?  Some of them say, “Look, I just want a trainer. I don’t want a friend.” “OK. No problem. We can do that.” But we’re dealing with a lot of very up-close, one-on-one time. After a while they may say, “Hey, I notice you got this car. Do you have a mechanic?” And suddenly you’re talking.

PM: You have a famous eight-week program called the Gunnar Challenge, so your 14 to Lean system is a real departure for you.

GP: Sometimes you’ve got something coming up and you don’t have eight weeks, you just have 14 days to pull it off. I love those little goals. For those people in the Gunnar Challenge to get on this the last two weeks, I mean, talk about blazing to the finish line.

PM: Can it work for anybody?

GP: It’s not designed for the morbidly obese.  It’s not for beginners.

PM: The supplements are sophisticated, with cutting-edge ingredients. Is it safe for anyone to take?

GP: My mom actually took the supplements. She’s 75 and freakishly active. She does an hour of cardio in the morning, two to three hours on horseback after that, and then either Curves or Zumba and an hour of roping. And she doesn’t take any anything, not even coffee.  And she said she felt a little wound up and didn’t love it, so I said, “Mom, what did you do?” She said, “Well, I did the full thing. You know how I am. I go all in. I love this product. Can I stay on it?”  I said, “No, you can’t, Mom. For 14 days you go on it, then go off it. Go on it. Come off it. Use it like that.” It worked for her. I know that’s a focus group of one, but she was able to use it and get results.

PM: And this is your first product after years of resisting offers from companies?

GP: Yes. If you know how long I’ve been in this, there is no way I could jump in with anything less than a great product.

PM: What mistakes do you see a lot of people make in the gym?

GP: In my experience, I see people trying to do too much right out of the gate. They try to do an overhaul.  They try to fix their training.  They try to fix their nutrition. They take these drastic measures.  They say, “I’m going to work out every day and do a spinning class at night, and I’m only eating salmon.” I’m, like, “Dude, that’s over by Tuesday, and by the way, it’s Monday night.” And it just doesn’t work. So that and worrying about the scale. People need to stay away from the scale.


After decades of working with some of the most famous people on the planet, Gunnar Peterson has mastered the art of the quick makeover. When Jennifer Lopez needs her famous curves shaped for the red carpet, Peterson’s the guy who has to come up with the formula to get it done. But if he’s that good, why should movie stars have a monopoly on his services? Peterson’s 14 to Lean is your chance to join the ranks of J-Lo and Sylvester Stallone by using his training secrets and supplement program to whip you into shape in only two weeks. Peterson was closely involved in every step of creating the 14 to Lean system because he wants it to deliver the results you want. And it will. “If you follow the workout, the eating plan and take the supplements, I think you’re going to be shocked,” says Peterson. “Everything is written up for you, so it’s easy to follow.” Unlike other short-term body makeovers, 14 to Lean has a realistic eating plan and a detailed workout program included. “This program is for people who have plateaued or have a specific deadline for an event, whether it’s a photo shoot, a nude scene, a training camp, a wedding, a school reunion, whatever,” says Peterson. For years, Peterson has resisted offers to endorse products, but this is the one that he chose to create, and he hopes people will feel it was worth the wait. “I hope they’ll say, ‘Now I get why this guy took this long to put out a product,’” he says.  (For more information, go to 14tolean.com.)

Here’s the three-step nutrition plan included with 14 to Lean.

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT ENERGY CATALYST. This fat burner works on your central nervous system to keep you focused, even when cutting calories and increasing your training. Safe and natural, this formula will help increase metabolism and elevate mood without that jittery feeling.

PM APPETITE SUPPRESSANT. You’ll find it easier to stick to a healthy eating plan with this effective appetite-control supplement that you’ll use before your evening meal. It’s packed with a combination of chromium, glucomannon and other cutting-edge ingredients that will help you feel satisfied and control blood sugar.

ULTRA-LEAN FINISHING COMPOUND.  You’ll use this formula during the final three days of the two-week program to dial in your conditioning by helping to carve in definition, giving you that tight, lean look. Now you’re ready to shine!

PM: You’re against using a scale?

GP: For sure. Why are you going to empower an inanimate object to control your mood? Because even if you look great, if you get on the scale and it hasn’t moved, you’re going to be bummed out.

PM: Do you say that to your clients?

GP: Well, I don’t want you to look in that bathroom, because there is one for my ballplayers, but out there in the gym, good luck finding a scale.

PM: Do you subscribe to the view that you have to make it a lifestyle?

GP: Yeah, I think it’s a lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be room for indulging every now and then. I’m going to see a movie with my kids tonight and there’s a very strong chance I will have popcorn or M&M’s. You have to live your life. I’m not going to have a frozen yogurt with 4 lb of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and then go home and have two whiskeys before bed. It’s that snowballing that kills people. You’ve got to live the lifestyle, but you don’t have to become a vegan and do meditation and all that,but you’ve got to make it part of your daily life. 

May 2015 | PHYSICAL 33