Gunnar Peterson made a very good decision 26 years ago. He decided to skip out on the 9-to-5 lifestyle and become a personal trainer. Today, the jacked-up 52-year-old spends most of his working hours with the beautiful women who come to him in search of perfection. Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Lopez, and Halle Berry are three names on a client list that could pass for a who’s who. What do they want? Flatter stomachs, leaner arms, and firmer asses. When do they want it? Now.
“I put so much into it - I am oddly, single-mindedly obsessed with this,” laughs Peterson. “For me, it’s all about the work ethic. I love people who love to do this.”
Peterson’s enthusiasm sustained him as he was building his career, but he fell into celebrity training by accident. A self-proclaimed gym rat, the Duke University grad started his first training session in college after a fellow fitness enthusiast witnessed his intense morning regimen and asked Peterson to teach him his skills. He picked it up again a few years out of school and quickly found himself training the assistants to big-name stars. It was only a matter of time until he got big-name clients and the first star to come calling was Kelly McGillis. The blonde bombshell and Top Gun actress was looking to shape up and Peterson was up for the challenge.
The rest, he says, is history. Today, he puts health-conscious food on the table by failing to treat his clients with the deference to which they’ve become accustomed. Peterson takes pride in pushing sexy starlets to transform themselves. He knows that fame is as competitive as any sport and that if you want to win the game you have to be willing to put in the work. “KhloeKardashianand Ciara train just as hard as any athlete I’ve ever had,” he says. “They go at it as hard as any man."
Photo Courtesy of Kevin Mazur / Getty Images
According to Peterson, working with celebrities isn’t much different than working with civilians; the only issue he tends to run into is working with stars' busy schedules. As for non-disclosures, Peterson uses no such paperwork and his tight-lipped reputation has made him popular in the business. “I don’t think I would have made it this far if I wasn’t [trustworthy],” he explains. “I always tell [my clients] – everything we do and say here is in the vault.” What he won’t tell his clients is that success is guaranteed.
“Let’s be happy for what we have and not unhappy for what we don’t have,” Peterson says. “Women come in at 5’2'' with big boobs and a curvy butt and go, ‘I want to look like a marathon runner.’ You have to talk them down: ‘Your body is predisposed to certain curves, let’s make them dangerous.’”
And that’s precisely what he does.
Sign up for Gunnar Peterson's The Gunnar Challenge, kicking off September 22nd, to feel the burn and get fit.
Photos by Alexandra Wyman / WireImage