When it comes to wellness the celeb trainer says recovery and what you do when you’re not in the gym are as important as exercising hard.
Ask Gunnar Peterson what the secret behind his client Rebel Wilson’s 60-pound (and counting) weight loss is and his answer is very clear. It’s the Australian star’s commitment to health and fitness, not just when she’s working out with him in the gym, but also when she’s away from him, living her life. In particular, he praises her conscious decision to stay active throughout the day.
“I know the sacrifices she made and the lifestyle changes she’s made,” says Gunnar, who has trained the 40-year-old on and off for a couple of years. When she’s in Los Angeles, Rebel will see him up to four times a week, depending upon her schedule. “But she also gets it and she’s doing more outside the gym,” he tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “She knows to go for a walk. She’s going to always find something to do, which is great.
“It’s not like she just comes in and that’s it. This is a way more comprehensive approach than a lot of things. She’s making the right choices here. She’s making the right choices from a food standpoint. She’s doing all the right things.”
It’s an approach that’s in tune with Gunnar’s fitness outlook. For years he has been the go-to celebrity trainer for stars like the Pitch Perfect actress, Khloe Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Beckinsale and more. But, while they pay him to devise challenging workouts (like the one in the video above) to whip them into shape, he believes that what they do when they’re away from his gaze is as important as what they do when he’s standing over their shoulder.
“If you’re in the gym for an hour a day, that’s 4 percent of your day. What did you do [for] your other 23 [hours]?” Gunnar says. “Can’t expect me to fix all that if it was just trash. If the rest of your day your food choices are garbage, your recovery is garbage, you don’t manage your stress levels and then you want to come in the gym and you want me to fix all that… That’s crazy.”
When Gunnar chats to HL about the sample workout that he’d give to a client like Rebel, he emphasizes that mixing cardio and strength training, confusing the body with aerobic and higher intensity anaerobic exercise, are necessary to get stronger and fitter. But he is also very clear that what you do afterwards, especially when it comes to recovery and sleep, are crucial steps that shouldn’t be missed either.
“Bodybuilding is a misnomer,” he says. “You’re not building your body when you’re lifting weights. You’re tearing your body down actually. Building comes afterwards, when you rest, recover, use CBD so you can get quality sleep.”
“Recovery is a massive space in wellness. It’s for sure the hottest space,” says Gunnar who recently became an ambassador for the ALTWELL range of CBD products that include melatonin gummies to promote rest, and sports balm to soothe sore muscles. (CBD – or cannabidiol – is derived from the cannabis plant, but doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC, the compound that gets you high.)
“You might be better off not adding another workout to your week, but instead getting 30 minutes more sleep at night and using a CBD topical every night before bed,” he says. “Sleep is where your body does all the recovery. That’s where everything rebuilds.”
In the meantime, if you want a taste of what Rebel does when she’s in the gym with Gunnar, check out the video above and step by step guide below. “When you get into the gym, think about big movements, multi-joint movements,” he says. “Don’t think about isolation movements. Think about things like squats and deadlifts, and push-ups and pull-ups… Then you’re getting more bang for your buck in terms of what going on during the workout, instead of the little isolation movements. I want metabolically for your body to be put to work. I do that stuff with Rebel… Then she’s on her way, makes good choices outside here and we go from there.”
Gunnar Peterson’s Sample Workout:
- Deadlift. Holding a barbell, dumbbell or whatever weights you have available, stand with your legs hip-width apart. Hinge at the waist and lean forward, towards your shins and then stand up straight. Repeat, doing two to three sets of eight reps.
- Lateral Shuffle. Standing with your feet, hip-width apart, bend your knees slightly and shuffle 20 to 30 seconds in one direction and then back. Do two to three sets of 20 to 30 seconds per side.
- Plank. Lower your body down into a push-up position, draw your abs in and drop your hips to engage your core. Hold the position for 1 minute. Even if you break, try to finish the minute, varying your hand and foot positions (lowering on to your elbows and back up, stepping in and out with your feet), as demonstrated in the video above.
- Bench dips. Great for working the triceps, the muscles on the back of your arms. Gunnar explains how to perform the perfect bench dip in this YouTube video. “Slide your hands in until they hit your hips,” he says. “Walk your feet forward, shoulders back, chest high. You’re going to lower down, keeping the weight in your heels and the heels of your hands, drive up. Shoulder doesn’t go any lower than your elbow.” Do two to three sets of 12 to 20 reps.
- Pull-ups. If you have a TRX rope safely installed in your home, try these upper body exercises as demonstrated in the video above. Stand up, holding the TRX, straighten your arms, lean back at a 45-degree angle, and pull your body upright. Do two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps.