There’s only one personal trainer to the stars whose client list is as diverse as his training methods and whose resume boasts a dynamic approach, boundless energy, and humor when it comes to his over 28 years of experience in the fitness industry: Gunnar Peterson (yes, the trainer who shaped the physiques of Jennifer Lopez and Khloe Kardashian). Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about fitness and how to achieve fitness goals (and look good while you’re doing it).
Whether your Pilates or Hot Girl Walk streak took a hit because your couch and Netflix beckoned one too many times, you’re up to your neck in work deadlines, or your motivation could use a serious pep talk, there’s no expiration date to jump back on the exercise bandwagon. Lucky for us, Peterson let me in on his best tips for kickstarting your fitness routine again. Ahead, his six tried-and-true techniques you’re going to want to try for yourself (that practically makes us workout buddies with J.Lo, right?).
Personal Trainer, #TeamBiosteel Athlete, and F45 Chief of Athletics
Gunnar Peterson is a Beverly Hills-based personal trainer whose clients include celebrities, professional athletes, and everyday people. He is widely recognized for his expertise in functional training and his commitment to developing and implementing innovative fitness techniques.
I hate to break it to you, but you’re probably not drinking enough water. Ask any expert and I’d bet they tell you staying hydrated is fundamental to your overall health and wellness, and Peterson is no exception. “Hydration and recovery get overlooked as key players in your fitness routine, especially ongoing hydration,” he confirmed. “Yes, you should actively hydrate and focus on your fluids during your work out, but most people aren’t maintaining their hydration throughout the day.” If you’ve found yourself mentally and physically fatigued half way through your workout, chances are you didn’t down enough H20 beforehand. “It’s plain and simple: if you aren’t performing at your best, you’re less motivated to keep going,” Peterson attested.
Just how much water should you be drinking daily? As a general rule of thumb, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, suggests women consume about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day. Start with a glass of water first thing in the morning, add flavor to your water with fruits, cucumber, or herbs like mint, and establish small goals to drink a certain amount of water in an hour, by lunchtime, etc. Peterson’s take? “Definitely drink WAY more water than you think you should be drinking,” he advocated. “My favorite way to stay hydrated is with BioSteel – it’s a clean, healthy hydration drink that has zero sugar and only 10 calories. It supports your wellness routine with the necessary electrolytes and your body is able to get more done when properly hydrated.”
2. Think of every day is a fresh start
You’ve pressed pause on your gym sessions (still paying that monthly gym membership though) and convince yourself you’ll start tomorrow. Sound familiar? The hardest part is getting started, so why not get it over with today? “If you’re finding yourself off track, there’s no better day than the present to get back into it,” Peterson recommended. “We’re all busy, but you should never be too busy to commit and show up for yourself. Don’t overthink how long it might’ve been since you last worked out, just get started today.”
Revisiting why you want to prioritize fitness in the first place can help ignite that fire in you again. Is it to build confidence, improve your mood, or get better sleep? Write it down, and remind yourself of your “why” anytime you struggle to find the motivation to hit the gym (think: put up an image or word that represents it on your bathroom mirror).
3. Focus on the basics
When you’re starting fresh with anything—a new job, relationship, or workout program—it’s tempting to go for gold right out of the gate. But doing too much too fast can lead to burn out and depletion, and before you know it, you’re back to square one. “You don’t have to go hard every single time to have a good workout–you just need to be challenged and enjoy what you’re doing,” Peterson conveyed. “When it comes to finding success in fitness, it’s on you to find what works best for your body and what challenges you, but remember, if you stick to the basics of motivation, movement, and consistency, you’re already off to a great start.”
Take a cue from Peterson: Make sure your sweat sessions are enjoyable and listen to your body. If your go-to form of exercise is making you yawn more than anything or you’ve hit a plateau, it’s time to change it up (Taylor Swift treadmill workout, anyone?). If your body is telling you to slow down (i.e. you’re exhausted AF outside of the gym, getting sick more often, experiencing more injuries), go for a walk, do some yoga stretches, or take a rest day or more (they’re just as important, FYI). Bottom line: Prioritize movement that you enjoy and can healthily and realistically stick with.
4. Don’t minimize your accomplishments
We’re used to instant gratification (looking at you, snooze button, TikTok, and Amazon Prime), so it’s no wonder that when we make a goal to get fit, we get discouraged if we don’t see immediate results. “The psychological aspect of fitness can be the biggest roadblock; we’re always our harshest critic,” Peterson expressed. “Don’t let yourself get in the way and give yourself credit for what you’ve already done.” Peterson reminded us to celebrate the little wins, even if we haven’t reached our end goals yet. “Focus on what you have done and what you’ll continue to do!” he said.
Track your progress using a journal or app and reward yourself for every micro goal you achieve. Biologically speaking, when we give ourselves positive reinforcements, our brains release dopamine, which motivates actions toward our desired goals. So consider buying a new workout ‘fit, taking a PTO day for all things self-care, or ordering your favorite takeout to pat yourself on the back.
5. If it’s not working, try something new
Progressing towards your fitness goal (or any goal for that matter) isn’t always linear; sometimes you need to change course in order to attain it. “If you’re not feeling whatever fitness routine you’re doing and not seeing results, it might be time to switch it up,” Peterson suggested. “This is especially true if you’ve done the same workout over and over, lifting the same weights, going for the same run; both your mind and body already know what to expect.” That doesn’t mean you have to completely ditch your current training regimen. Rather, Peterson advised trying to add in small stimuli like increasing your weight, experimenting with the number of reps you do, or adding a hill run to your treadmill routine.
But if your mind and body are craving something different all together, sign up for a type of workout class you haven’t tried, like rebounding or dance cardio, or a fitness platform that offers a variety of workouts (see: Alo Moves, The Sculpt Society, or Nike Training Club). You just might find a new form of exercise you look forward to doing and get stronger while you’re at it!
6. Keep moving
There’s a common misconception that you have to sweat it out for hours or intensely in order for it to count (I should know—I used to buy into it). But Peterson made it clear that’s far from the truth: “I’m a firm believer in small doses every single day,” he said. “Even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes, if you commit to yourself and get your body moving, you’ll feel the benefits of your endorphins releasing throughout the day.”
A recent study found that daily short bursts of physical activity throughout the day led to a 50 percent decrease in death from cardiovascular problems, compared to those who didn’t exercise at all. Translation: Small amounts of movement can mean a longer life expectancy. Try exercise snacks of push-ups, squats, and lunges to break up your work day, cue up a 15-minute workout on one of the aforementioned fitness platforms, or fast walk around the block. Still using the no-time-to-work-out excuse? I didn’t think so.