Ever wondered how Kendall Jenner looks so good? We spoke to Gunnar Peterson, Jenner’s person trainer to find out
Strutting down the runways of Balmain, Michael Kors and Chanel at Paris Fashion week, Kendall Jenner is the women of the moment. Of course, the Victoria’s Secret supermodel is in tip top shape – her washboard abs and lengthy toned legs being almost as famous as the classic Kardashian derriere. And last week she was spotted showcasing those famous abs at party in the desert, Winter Bumbleland.
But the starlet works hard for her body. Talking to People about her exercise routine in the lead-up to last year’s Victoria’s Secret show, Jenner said ‘I worked out so hard for that, like, literally every single day — sometimes twice,’ she said. ‘I’d go to my trainer, then I’d go for a run a couple hours later.’
But what exactly does a workout for Jenner entail? And is it possible for us to get a body like the celebrity? We spoke exclusively to Jenner’s personal trainer, Gunnar Peterson to find out.
When Peterson answered the phone it was 5.30am in LA. He was doing his morning cycle on a bike at his gym in Beverley Hills and when I told him I was impressed with the early start he shrugged it off saying ‘It’s what you got to do.’ Peterson is one of the most sought-after trainers in the US and can boast Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie and the Kardashians as his clients – although he won’t. When I asked him who he’d trained he laughed, ‘I’ll never throw that s**t out, you can Google that s**t.’
This was typical of his hilariously upfront manner – it quickly became clear he has a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to health and fitness when he jokingly invited me to LA to attempt Jenner’s workout. ‘Kendall is in here busting her ass, I challenge you to do her workout. I’ll put you through it, you come over.’
But he wasn’t always the fitness guru that he is today, explaining that when he was young he was overweight saying ‘I was always a fat kid. My mum even had me in weight watchers when I was ten years old.’ Despite this, he’d always had an interest in working out and he really got into his fitness when he went to university – soon people at the gym were asking him to coach them and today he has worked an impressive 28 years in the industry.
Spend as much time planning your workout as your wardrobe and you’ll look better in those clothes.
Q. What is your philosophy when it comes to fitness?
Consistency – that’s one thing. You need to make sure you stay with it. Just do what your schedule allows you. Some days you’re going to say ‘wow I actually have an extra 30 minutes’ so instead of cutting out and going to buy a sweater, do an extra 20 minutes of cardio a 10 minute stretch or get an extra 30 minutes of sleep.
And planning – spend as much time planning your workout as your wardrobe and you’ll look better in those clothes.
Q. So how should we plan out our workouts?
Write it out the night before, take ten minutes. Put it on the notes app on your phone. Or go old school and write it on a piece of paper. My buddy Brad and I send stuff back and forth to each other every night, Instagram video is great for that.
It’s the same reason I pull my clothes out at night for the following day. I get up at 3.45 in the morning, I don’t want to stand there, eyes glazed over, staring at my closet. I don’t want to have to make those decisions, I want to be able to execute.
Q. What cardio: weights ratio do you suggest?
Listen to your body, see what feels better. And if it feels better but you’re not seeing results then change it up, go against the grain. I would recommend a combination of multi-joint strengths move a couple of high-intensity interval movements. So a squat press – that’s a strength move that is going to pump your heart rate up. And then I would do some kind of a sixty-second sprint on either a bike a rower or a treadmill – whatever you have available.
Q. What is your best go-to type of exercise?
I really don’t think everybody should be doing the same thing. It’s going to come down to your goals, needs, ability, injury history, sports history and available time to commit.
But if you’re looking to change the way your body looks you should spend less time on single joint finishing isolating movements when it comes to strength training and you should invest more in multi-joint movements that involve all three plains of motion and movements that give you a metabolic return above and beyond just the time spent in the gym.
Women are often worried about getting big but relax – you’re not going to get big
Q. So strength training is important to you?
Yes, and it should be really important for you too. If you don’t have time for cardio and strength then I would recommend you do a strength programme with very limited downtime. So you go movement to movement to movement and in between, you add intervals. High-intensity intervals that would go anywhere from 30 to 120 seconds – that’s how you’re going to get the most return.
Women are often worried about getting big but relax – you’re not going to get big, you don’t produce enough testosterone to get big. And you’re certainly not going to lift heavy enough on a regular basis to get big. Getting fat, on the other hand, that’s a whole different story. I can give you three recommendations for that and you could knock them all out today.
Q. Yep, that part is far too easy! So how do you train Jenner?
So she’s very active and she travels a lot but before The Victoria’s Secret thing she was in five days a week. It’s not really strength training, it’s a combination of movement, strength and high-intensity intervals.
It’s not really strength training, it’s a combination of movement, strength and high-intensity intervals.
I want her to feel as though she’s happy with the way she looks and that she’s still able to move. If I see with a certain weight she’s reaching a technical failure, the lift is in the 8 or 9 rep range, I’m going to take some weight off – we’re not power lifters, we’re not weight lifters.
You can’t cripple a runway model. I can’t destroy her legs with some kind of crazy routine. So she could be in here and do a set of squats, a set of pull ups, drop down into a plank series a set of hypo extensions. It’s all about throwing a curve ball at the body – the body has to adapt because when it adapts it changes.
For me, it’s about being in the game every day and it’s about my kids.
Q. Sounds intense – does she enjoy the workouts?
I would say she does but that’s a question you’d have to ask her. She’s here regularly, she works her ass off. Kendall is a natural athlete – if there’s a movement we’re doing against resistance whether it’s a chop or if it’s something that involves a sprint or a lateral move or if it co-ordinates upper body and lower body, at first it might be a little bit wonky but within 3 or 4 reps it looks like she invented the movement. Her learning curve on physical movements is like that of an athlete.
Kendall is a natural athlete
It’s a pleasure to work with her. When she comes in it’s like working with one of my pro-athletes.
Q. What is the best way to stay motivated?
Look at the lifestyle you want. If you want to go to Palma, Ibiza, Majorca this summer and you want to go out on a beach. You know what that looks like, you know what your friends are going to wear – if you’re unhappy, there’s your motivation.
For me, it’s about being in the game every day and it’s about my kids. Do I want to be the guy sitting on the sideline with an oxygen tank watching my kids play football or do I want to be the guy who plays in the backyard with my kids?
Get involved in the journey, get involved in the process and best yourself.
Q. What do most of us get wrong when we aren’t seeing results?
I think sometimes people throw in the towel too quickly. You didn’t get in the current shape you’re not happy with overnight. I’ve heard people say ‘I’ve been good for three weeks’ and I’m like ‘well you’ve been bad for 36 years,’ I’m not going to say it’s going to take you 36 years to get it back but damn, pay in a little bit.
The other thing is you see that fitness ADHD where people jump around. One week it’s yoga, the next week it’s Pilates then they’re doing strength. If you’re just doing it because you’re chasing the result then its fairly short lived. Get involved in the journey, get involved in the process and best yourself. Then when you get to the goal its almost like it’s a side effect.
Q. Do you have a favourite cheat meal?
It’s funny, I cheat every day but I only cheat a little. It’s like a crime – the cheat meal. I jaywalk every day I don’t commit murder on Sunday. There are the people who have a cheat and they think they can have an unlimited quantity of it. Have a piece of pizza, have two pieces of pizza but c’mon dude a whole pizza? It’s just over-cheating.
I cheat every day but I only cheat a little.
I always go to chocolate. Milk chocolate, not even dark chocolate. I can’t stand dark chocolate. I lived in London as a kid, I lived SW1 right off Park Lane. When I walked home from the little school there I stopped and got a Cadbury Dairy Milk every day as a fat kid.
Q. Is it possible for us to have a body like Kendall Jenner?
I cautioned a woman about this 27 years ago in the gym and I can still remember the conversation. She looked all downtrodden and later it completely changed her approach to exercise. Stop trying to be Kendall Jenner 2.0. Be you – the best you is always better than a knock off of anyone else.
If you’re 5’2, 148 Ibs and you have curves – that’s not Kendall Jenner’s body. Aspire to be a very healthy, sexy, in-shape 5’2 and don’t get obsessed with the scale. You get a girl like Kendall who says ‘I just want some rocking curves, I want a big ass and big boobs. I just want to look curvier.’
Stop trying to be Kendall Jenner 2.0. Be you – the best you is always better than a knock off of anyone else.
Don’t hitch your wagon to something that is just not there. If you use it to inspire you it’s fine but if you’re aspiring to it that’s a long road and that’s just fraught with disappointment – don’t do it to yourself.